FORT MEADE, Md. (CN) - A military judge refused to free Bradley Manning based on his 1,000-day wait before trial on the biggest intelligence disclosure in U.S. history.
"The government assiduously worked to bring this case to trial," military judge Col. Denise Lind said at a hearing on the 1,008th day of Manning's pretrial confinement.
Though the military justice system mandates that the time from arrest until the referral of charges to court-martial may not exceed 120 days, "excludable delays" can stop the "speedy trial clock."
The 25-year-old private first class has been incarcerated since May 2010 for allegedly sending hundreds of thousands of files with U.S. diplomatic and wartime secrets to WikiLeaks.
More than 600 days later, Manning's charges were formally referred on Feb. 3, 2012, but the parties agreed that roughly half of these delays were necessary.
Col. Lind spent most of a Tuesday hearing reading the government's reasons for each of the disputed delays into the record.
She agreed with those justifications nearly in every instance, except for six days Manning's investigating officer set aside to drive his child to a swim meet and perform unrelated civilian work.
That investigating officer, Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, committed an "abuse of discretion" by scratching off those days, the judge said.
With the exception of this finding, Lind defended every freeze of the speedy trial clock requested by the government as the product of a "complex and unprecedented" case requiring an "almost unfathomable coordination in manpower."
WikiLeaks further complicated this effort by continuing to publish documents during the investigation, Lind said.
Col. Carl Coffman, the convening authority overseeing the prosecution, made many of the same arguments when he was called to testify about the delays at a hearing in November.
Under cross-examination, Coffman agreed that he rarely questioned any decision to pause the speedy trial clock, and he scanned the documents confirming these freezes for typographical errors.
Defense attorney David Coombs repeatedly called him a "rubber stamp" in a 117-page motion detailing the speedy trial violations that he alleged.
The judge's ruling did not recount this allegation and testimony. She said instead found that the government worked "diligently" to pore through the classified records needed to sustain the charges.
Another pause on the trial clock reflects meetings of the "sanity board," which confirmed Manning's competency to stand trial. Manning's defense claimed on the other hand that the board dragged its feet for several months.
Such meetings required three panelists to gain security clearances and schedule interviews in a secure room at a time convenient for all parties, Lind said.
"Op Plan Bravo," the military's name for its press outreach and security measures at Ft. Meade, accounted for more excluded weeks before the Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury.
Only 90 days remained by the end of the judge's tally, two-thirds of the way shy of the speedy trial limit.
She also rejected finding constitutional violations under the Sixth Amendment, a potentially broader standard.
"There is no evidence that the government could have brought the case to trial earlier but ... spitefully refused to do so," Lind said.
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