Transcript: Press conference Q&A with defense counsel David Coombs on PFC Bradley Manning’s 35-year sentence – part IV

Partial transcript of press conference Q&A with David Coombs, civilian defense counsel for PFC Bradley Manning, after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in confinement for leaking 700,000 classified U.S. records to WikiLeaks. The press conference was held on Aug. 21, 2013 at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve in Hanover, Maryland. 


Question: In the sentencing phase of the trial, you focused a lot on Manning’s upbringing and his mental health issues while deployed to Iraq but not so much on the potential positive impacts of his leaks. Why that decision? David Coombs: Well, you always have to know your audience. And my goal there as his advocate was putting forth the evidence that I believe to be the most persuasive to the audience that mattered at that point and that was only the military judge. If I had an audience of the people behind me [referring to Manning supporters], my defense would be a lot different. [Laughs] But that’s what I went with at the time. Question: Did the government ever asked for Manning’s cooperation of WikiLeaks grand jury investigation in the Eastern District of Virginia? And also, how does Manning feel about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange now? Has he talked to you about that at all? David Coombs: With regards to the cooperation, there were early discussions on a pre-trial agreement that were far worse than his outcome here today. To give you an example of the type of partner across the aisle I had to get to a possible deal, so they were offering length of sentence that exceeded what he received today. And part of that would be to cooperate and testify. So obviously we didn’t do that. With regards to my client’s feeling on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, the chat logs talk about how he turned to WikiLeaks for conversations on IRC chat that ranged a full spectrum of topics from computer software programming to issues of the day that mattered to basically the citizens of the world. And so I think he viewed that as a lifeline to him while he was deployed. The idea that WikiLeaks or Julian Assange or anyone else forced my client to do anything or asked him to do anything is just pure fabrication. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are no different than any other journalists, and had PFC Manning reached out to any one of you, I think he would have given you the information and hopefully you wouldn’t treat it differently. Question: How up to speed is Private Manning on what’s happening with Edward Snowden and what’s his take on that? David Coombs: He’s an intelligence analyst so he wants information. So every morning, we would give him a collection of all the world news by region and also world news that was relevant to the United States. So if he were here today, he could have a conversation with you about anything that happened within 24 hours. Question: What’s his take on the Edward Snowden situation? David Coombs: He views that – he hasn’t given me like his personal opinions, but when we talked about that, obviously the timing for us wasn’t the greatest. But it also had some benefits because it brought focus back into this case. And the hope was that when people would see that Bradley Manning wasn’t the only person who was interested in informing the American public, that that might have some positive outcomes. So to the extent that we talked about it, it was along those lines. Question: [Inaudible] David Coombs: The discharge – I could see a bad kind of discharge but not a dishonorable. Bradley Manning is a man of honor so I can’t see that. The implications for his future? I’m hopeful that he gets out in the near term. I’m hoping that he can go on with his life and be productive. And if so, then this doesn’t have to define him. He can still be a very productive member of our society.


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  1. Pingback: PFC Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years | What The Folly?!

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