[*Below is a live blog for Pfc. Bradley Manning's arraignment.]

Update – 3:30 PM EST A final update: Nothing definitive yet. The date for trial is not set yet (despite what I have reported below). It is likely to be August 3. Coombs pressed for a June date. That is what is known right now.

Update – 3:05 PM EST Remember how I predicted the most mundane proceedings turn into something interesting when it has to do with WikiLeaks or Bradley Manning? Okay, so far, it had been expected that Manning’s trial would be in May. The government now is indicating to Coombs that will heed the prosecution’s request. Coombs is saying the trial is probably going to be August 3.

Update – 2:52 PM EST More details on the request for the trial to be on August 3. The prosecution wanted a delay. And, according to @nathanlfuller, there was an email exchange where the government denied the prosecution’s request for a delay. The Coombs said there was an email where the government officially made a denial. The prosecution claims they never saw this email.

Update – 2:36 PM EST Karen McVeigh’s report on the arraignment. He was formally charged with “aiding the enemy.” He faces 22 charges. The hearing was 45 minutes.

Wearing his dress greens and heavy, dark-rimmed glasses, Manning sat through most of the proceedings with his hands clasped.

Manning, a former army intelligence analyst, has been detained since May 2010. Under the US constitution, a court martial must be brought within 120 days of charges being preferred. The prosecution says delays occurred because of requests from his own defence team, and the time taken to handle classified documents.

Update – 2:30 PM EST Per @kstrel, who attended the arraignment, the judge is a woman and she claimed to have “no prior knowledge of the case.” She said she only knew Manning’s name and that “it involved classified materials.” That’s what Investigative Officer Lt. Col. Paul Almanza said on the first day of Manning’s Article 32 hearing.

Update – 2:23 PM EST Various reporters at the arraignment hearing confirming Manning’s trial may not be until August 3 because that is when the government wants to have the trial.

Typically, the government has gotten what it wanted when it made requests so it looks like the trial may not happen til then, although pre-trial hearings have been scheduled for March.

Update – 2:13 PM EST Ratner also told CCR that the government’s suggested trial date was August 3. The defense objected.

Today, Manning has been in confinement for 653 days. If trial began August 3, it would be his 800th day of confinement.

Update – 2:09 PM EST Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights (follow him on Twitter @justleft) reports next hearing dates are March 15 & 16.

Update – 1:53 PM EST Bradley Manning is not going to enter a plea today (via @rafsanchez)

Update – 1:31 PM EST Karen McVeigh for The Guardian is at Fort Meade covering the proceedings. In addition to what has been reported below, a legal spokesman told the media:

Manning has the right to a military counsel, at no charge to him, or a civilian counsel. He already has a civilian lawyer, David Coombs, and two military lawyers…

The defense and prosecution will work out a schedule for the court-martial. That might be released. Motions will be made, such as anything related to having the case dismissed. The defense might argue, “based on the length of time Manning has been in custody,” charges should be dropped. However, any motions are likely to be put aside and deliberated over at a later date.

Update – 1:12 PM EST The Christian Science Monitor looks at whether Manning will have a “compelling defense.”

Key points in Manning’s defense are expected to include that many of the classified cables, videos, and other data he is alleged to have leaked did not harm US national security – or were overclassified in the first place. Another argument: Manning was given too much access for his junior rank.

The article devolves after that point. The Monitor accepts that Manning was an “insider” and then gets into how organizations are protecting themselves from “insider threats.” Insiders typically aim to take down institutions. They have malicious intent when they commit a leak. They usually want money too. When they get their name out there, they want recognition and glory.

When considering all that, Manning is and was not an “insider.”

Update – 1:11 PM EST The arraignment should be underway.

Update – 12:37 PM EST Image for Bradley Manning being shared on Twitter.

Update – 12:26 PM EST Raf Sanchez, who is with Telegraph, has some updates on what we could see happen at the arraignment. Manning will be deciding whether his court-martial includes a “jury” or just a military judge. If he chooses to have a “jury” (known as a “panel” in the military justice system), he can have an “all officer jury” or one that is “1/3 enlisted troops.”

The dates for the court-martial, which is expected to be in May, could be established and made public today.

Oh, and here’s something interesting from inside the Media Operations Center: press can now have mobile phones. The Internet will be on at all times. However, sending messages on Twitter is not allowed during the hearing.

That will be enforced. Military public affairs monitors social media.

Update – 12:07 PM EST Bill Quigley, associate director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, writes in an op-ed for The Indypendent that focuses primarily on how Manning was held in solitary confinement:

Today US Army Private Bradley Manning is to be formally charged with numerous crimes at Fort Meade, Maryland.   Manning, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by members of the Icelandic Parliament, is charged with releasing hundreds of thousands of documents exposing secrets of the US government to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. These documents exposed lies, corruption and crimes by the US and other countries.  The Bradley Manning defense team points out accurately that much of what was published by Wikileaks was either not actually secret or should not have been secret…

Update – 11:53 AM EST The Defense Department claims it is making “impressive strides” in updating their guides for classification of information. Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News has the latest.

The significance of the cancellations is hard to gauge, especially since the cancelled guides are not identified in the new interim report to ISOO.  In some cases, their elimination may make no practical difference since they were no longer in use anyway.  In other cases, the cancellations may reflect an updated consensus concerning the sensitivity of the information.

Collectively, the elimination of hundreds of classification guides will help to clear away much of the accumulated detritus of the national security secrecy system.  It will increase the clarity of classification policy, and reduce some of its arbitrariness.

This is relevant to Manning’s case as part of the defense’s argument concerns the over-classification of information. If what he released was improperly classified, should he be charged for the release? Of course, the prosecution will argue Manning did not have the authority to decide whether certain information was properly classified or not. That may make the defense’s argument seem pointless, but it actually can be incredibly critical to Manning.

That some of the information he is alleged to have released should never have been classified makes charging him with “aiding the enemy” even more questionable.

Update – 11:41 AM EST Follow @ArunRath, @JulieATate, @nathanlfuller and @justleft

Fuller sends this tweet:

Original Post

Manning supporters rally outside Ft. Meade during his pre-trial hearing last December (photo: savebradley)

Pfc. Bradley Manning, a US soldier accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, is to be arraigned today at Fort Meade, Maryland. Manning will be given “official notice of the charges,” according to his defense lawyer, David Coombs. He will then be asked to enter a plea.

On Coombs’ Army Court Martial Defense blog, Coombs writes, “This is the first step in the court-martial process.” It is scheduled to begin at 1 pm EST this afternoon.

The Bradley Manning Support Network is urging Americans to call their representative and ask them to “raise the issue of Pfc. Bradley Manning’s unjust treatment.” They want Americans to demand their representative call for the dismissal of all charges against Manning.

Tell them justice is not being served. Please write, tweet, email, call, and otherwise share your experience. Let us know how your representatives have responded. Bradley Manning’s supporters are listening, and it’s time for the government to do the same.

The Support Network has posted a list of four reasons why Manning deserves support: (1) it was a year and a half before a pre-trial hearing happened (2) military officials have refused to allow or force key witnesses to testify (3) whistleblowers are essential to a vibrant democracy and (4) Manning spent eight months in solitary confinement, which is tantamount to torture.

With regards to the second reason, it should be noted that no “internal administration WikiLeaks impact assessments” have been admitted into open court yet. At no time during the pre-trial hearing were such reports brought up during proceedings. What this means is Manning is accused of 22 charges, including “aiding the enemy,” and no official has had to testify under oath about whether the release of classified information did harm to the US or not.

The Baltimore Sun reports supporters will be holding a vigil outside the base.

*

I am not at Fort Meade today. I am covering this remotely. However, I have a couple contacts that will be providing updates and I will be posting updates throughout the day if anything significant or interesting happens.

One thing I have learned about anything involving WikiLeaks is even the most mundane proceedings, like an arraignment hearing, have a way of becoming interesting and newsworthy. A person might think Manning is just going to be formally charged and enter a plea and that will be it, but that person would be forgetting the history of this case so far.

If  you followed my coverage of Manning’s Article 32 hearing last December, you might remember his pre-trial hearing opened with Coombs trying to get the investigative officer (“judge”) to recuse himself. It is likely something about this process that Manning’s defense challenges. That’s my prediction.

I intend to cover all future court martial proceedings, including any hearings in March or April that might come before the expected court martial dates in early May.

Updates will appear at the top of the post.