Faced with a new round of pre-trial hearings in early June, Pfc Bradley Manning’s lawyer, David E. Coombs, has filed a number of motions, calling for the summary dismissal of 10 of the 22 charge on the grounds that they are unconstitutionally vague or overbroad.
One of the charges, Section 793(3), includes the phrase “relating to the national defense,” which Coombs argued is too vague, noting that “national security.” is being used to cover things which “threaten no conceivable security or other government interest.” He also warned it could be used to criminalize core political speech under the First Amendment.
Coombs also urged two charges be dropped relating to the claim that Manning “exceeded authorized access” in accessing the information that was leaked. He noted that the government has refused to specify exactly how logging on with his own username counted as “exceeding” access, and insisted that the purpose for which he accessed the information is irrelevant to the question of whether he had valid login credentials.
Coombs has repeatedly criticized the prosecution’s behavior in the Manning trial, urging total dismissal in March because the prosecution had botched so much of the discovery phase that it made conducting a defense virtually impossible. If convicted, Manning would face life in prison.