FORT MEADE, Md. — Army Pfc. Bradley Manning's court-martial for giving hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to WikiLeaks entered its second week Monday in a fresh spotlight cast by a brand-new leak by another low-level intelligence employee.
Like Manning, Edward Snowden could find himself hauled into court by the U.S. government after he unmasked himself Sunday as the leaker who exposed the nation's secret phone and Internet surveillance programs to reporters.
Legal experts closely following both cases said they were shocked to find out young, low-ranking people had such access to powerful government secrets.
"In that respect, these cases suggest we should be much more careful about who is given security clearances," said David J.R. Frakt, a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer who has taught at several law schools.
Manning is charged under federal espionage and computer fraud laws. The most serious charge against him is aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence. Testimony was expected to continue today.
As the trial opened last week, prosecutors said they would show that some of the secrets fell into the hands of Osama bin Laden himself. Manning's attorney said he was young and naive, but a good-intentioned soldier who wanted to make the world a better place by exposing the way the U.S. government was conducting itself.
At Manning's trial Monday, his defense team won an intense battle over the admissibility of a piece of evidence supporting his claim that he leaked secrets to expose wrongdoing by the U.S. military and State Department.
The evidence was WikiLeaks' "Most Wanted Leaks of 2009." Army criminal investigator Mark Mander testified he found several versions of the list, including one prefaced by an explanation that the records were sought by "journalists, activists, historians, lawyers, police or human-rights investigators." That's the version the defense sought to admit; prosecutors offered a version without the preface. They objected strenuously to the defense's version but the military judge, Col. Denise Lind, said both versions were equally relevant.