Government Says WikiLeaks No Different From New York Times At Bradley Manning Hearing

FILE - In this March 15, 2012 file photo, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning departs a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md. Manning, accused
FILE - In this March 15, 2012 file photo, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning departs a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md. Manning, accused of engineering the biggest leak of government secrets in U.S. history, is asking a military judge to dismiss all charges. Oral arguments on Pfc. Bradley Manning's dismissal motion are scheduled at a pretrial hearing starting Tuesday, May 1, 2012 in Maryland. Manning is charged with causing hundreds of thousands of classified war documents and diplomatic cables to be published on the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The last two days of pretrial hearings for Bradley Manning have seen a couple of interesting developments:

First, Judge Army Col. Denise Lind waded into the roiling debate over solitary confinement when she claimed yesterday that Bradley Manning was not truly subjected to solitary confinement because "solitary confinement means alone, without human contact," and "he had daily human contact."

Penologists and psychologists hotly dispute just what solitary confinement is. But it's generally agreed that we're not necessarily talking about Kaspar Hauser-style total isolation. Even journalist Terry Anderson, when he was being held by Hezbollah in Lebanon in the '80s, for example, had some contact with his jailers.

The ACLU blogged a response to Lind's ruling on Wednesday, calling it a "misguided," "simply wrong" display of the "all too common misunderstanding of what solitary confinement is and the damaging effects it imposes on human beings."

Second, there was an interesting discussion of whether WikiLeaks constitutes a media organization in court Wednesday. Kevin Gosztola summarizes:

The judge asked if the govt was planning to present any evidence about the nature of WikiLeaks. Is that somehow different from the New York Times? Does the government have a theory it is somehow different? To which the government replied during sentencing it would have a witness testify, who would "characterize" WikiLeaks.

Again the judge asked, "If we substituted New York Times for WikiLeaks, would you still charge Bradley Manning in way that you have?" Without hesitation, the government answered yes.

Keep in mind that we're talking about the trial of Bradley Manning, not Julian Assange. Still, it's interesting that in this context of whether to charge Manning, at least, the government views Assange and former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller not too differently. I guess we'll have to stay tuned for a potential sentencing phase of the trial to find out more.