More than three years after his arrest and after months and months of pretrial hearings, the trial of Army Private Bradley Manning finally began this week at Fort Meade. Manning is accused of releasing more than 700 thousand classified government files to the website WikiLeaks. He has been charged with aiding the enemy and with violating the Espionage Act, among other things. In total he faces 22 charges.
The trial is open but following the details of what is being argued presents something of a challenge because so much of it is shrouded in secrecy. Motions, briefs, and transcripts of pre-trial hearings have not been released, making it hard for the press and public to follow the proceedings. The non-profit Freedom of the Press Foundation crowd-funded almost $60,000 to pay for two court stenographers to sit in the media room, but they were not granted a press pass.
Shayana Kadidal, Senior Managing Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, is among those pushing for greater transparency in this trial. In late May, the CCR filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction asking for access to the government's filings, the court's orders, and transcripts of the proceedings.