White House 'said Bradley Manning leaks were benign'

Cables passed to Wikileaks by US Army private were of 'no real damage', lawyer claims


THE White House considered that classified information leaked by whistleblower Bradley Manning to Julian Assange's Wikileaks organisation was of a "rather benign nature" and not "of any real damage to national security", according to court documents filed yesterday by the jailed US Army private's lawyer.

Attorney David E Coombs is preparing for the 23-year-old Manning's pre-trial hearing which takes place on December 16. Coombs claims that the 750,000 cables and reports that his client passed on to Wikileaks were of limited severity and that internal government investigations will prove this.

According to Wired.com, "One assessment conducted by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) concluded that all of the information allegedly leaked was dated, represented low-level opinions, or was already commonly known due to previous public disclosures".

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A further report sought by Coombs - allegedly originating from the White House - apparently backs up the DIA's findings, while the court deposition quotes a Congressional official saying they were told by a State Separtment source that the impact of Manning's revelations was "embarrassing but not damaging".

Manning, who was arrested in Iraq in 2010, is facing 22 charges, including fraud and 'aiding the enemy' - a capital charge which could see him face the death penalty, though prosecutors say they will demand only life imprisonment.

During his incarceration he has been held for up to 23 hours a day in solitary confinement leading the UN's special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, to criticise US government for refusing to let him visit Manning.

Meanwhile the man who benefitted from Manning’s leaks, Assange, remains under house arrest awaiting his final appeal against extradition to Sweden to face charges of sexual assault. His case will be heard by the Supreme Court in London on December 5.

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