All Gov -Statements by key federal officials—including President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and others—that the release of thousands of classified documents by online activist group WikiLeaks posed little or no threat to U.S. national security may be used by the defense in Pfc. Bradley Manning’s military trial for treason, military judge Col. Denise Lind ruled.
The statements certainly undercut government assertions that the Internet
publication of the documents on July 25, 2010, harmed the U.S. On July
27, Obama said in the White House Rose Garden: “While I'm concerned
about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield that
could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is
these documents don't reveal any issues that haven’t already informed
our public debate on Afghanistan; indeed, they point to the same
challenges that led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last
Several weeks later, Defense Secretary Robert Gates assured Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan) that the Pentagon
could find no evidence that sources were compromised: “the review to
date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods
compromised by this disclosure,” Gates wrote.
A significant limitation on Judge Lind’s ruling, however, is that
Manning may not use the statements during the guilt phase of his
trial—i.e., the part when the jury will determine if he is guilty or not
guilty of treason—but only during the sentencing phase, when, if
Manning is convicted, the jury will determine what his sentence will be.