In a move which even the prosecution called “unprecedented,” the Pfc Bradley Manning case is going to hold a secret practice trial. Dubbed a “dry run” by some familiar with the process, it will be a closed-door run-through of some of the witnesses during which the judge can practice avoiding public disclosures of information relating to the case.
The goal is to keep “classified evidence,” which appears to be virtually the only kind there is in a case where the Pentagon won’t even publicly release official court rulings, from being inadvertently disclosed. Exactly how much of the real trial will be kept a secret will be decided in the practice run, which will be itself secret.
Efforts to keep the evidence a secret have already been ridiculous in some cases, including allowing testimony from people using pseudonyms and wearing disguises. Reportedly they are now considering allowing the prosecution to use “written summaries” of the secret evidence they have in lieu of the actual evidence.
Manning was originally arrested three years ago while stationed in Iraq and has been subjected to abuse while in custody. Efforts to arrange a military trial for him have gone at a snail’s pace, with the judge ruling it was “reasonable” that Manning’s right to a speedy trial under military law, explicitly made out to be 120 days, was simply ignored.