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Bradley Manning Judge to Rule on Request to Drop Charges

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(FORT MEADE, Md.) -- An Army judge said she will rule Wednesday on a defense request to drop the charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning, and set deadlines for various government agencies to provide assessments of the impact of Manning’s alleged leaking of classified materials to WikiLeaks.

The bulk of the day in the pretrial hearing focused on arguments for and against the motion his defense team filed last month to dismiss the charges against Manning with prejudice.

Manning is being court-martialed for allegedly leaking a trove of classified documents and video clips to WikiLeaks, a website dedicated to undermining government and corporate secrecy.

David Coombs, Manning’s civilian lawyer and the head of his defense team, argued that it was “abundantly clear the government didn’t understand their discovery obligations,” because they were using the wrong code of standards and looking only for “game-changing” information.

Manning’s attorney added that even if the government did a re-review and included additional factors, problems would arise from the “inherent conflict of interest” by the government, because finding additional material would “underscore” their violations. It would also cause issues for Manning’s right to a speedy trial, Coombs said.

The prosecution said they do understand discovery and “are producing (discovery information) above and beyond the minimum” requirements by law.

The defense’s motion to compel discovery was partially determined at Tuesday’s hearing.

Col. Denise Lind, the Army judge overseeing the hearing, set deadlines for the CIA, FBI, DIA, State Department, and Department of Justice to provide assessments they made regarding the impact of the classified materials being leaked to WikiLeaks.

The assessments are “relevant and necessary” because they “may contain information to the accused,” Lind said. She will review the assessments before deciding to forward them to the defense.

In addition, the court ordered forensic imaging of the remaining computers confiscated from Manning’s unit. Of the original 14 computers, five remain that have not been wiped clean.

There was also a request by the defense to obtain grand jury testimony from the Eastern District of Virginia.  A grand jury there has been empaneled to investigate the WikiLeaks case.

The government says that the grand jury testimony is out of its control because the decision is up to the federal judge who oversees that case. Coombs argued that the government can get it if it wants to, “but when the defense says, ‘Hey, we want the grand jury testimony,’ they say, ‘Oops, not within our jurisdiction.’”

The court also ruled that the defense would be allowed to post redacted portions of the defense motion to its blog.  Lind said that was not release authority for other documents, referring to prosecution documents, and that there is already a congressional process set up under the Freedom of Information Act for documents to be released.

The decisions on these rulings, including the motion to dismiss with prejudice, are expected to be determined Wednesday morning. The pre-trial hearing is expected to wrap on Thursday.

Tuesday morning’s session began with Manning replacing his Army defense lawyers, Maj. Matthew Kemkes and Capt. Paul Bouchard, with Capt. Joshua Tooman.

Manning requested the change in his defense counsel in a letter to Lind. No explanation was given for the change.  Coombs remains Manning’s civilian counsel and continues to head his defense team.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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