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WikiLeaks: Manning's trial resumes as new leak scandal unfolds

Edward Snowden's leaks bring fresh interest to Army Pfc. Bradley Manning's court-martial for giving hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to WikiLeaks.

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Army Pfc. Bradley Manning (r.) is escorted into a courthouse at Fort Mead, Md., for the fourth day of his court martial on Monday, June 10. Manning is charged with indirectly aiding the enemy by sending troves of classified material to WikiLeaks. He faces up to life in prison.

Cliff Owen/AP

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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. Manning was 22 when he turned over the military and diplomatic cables about three years ago; Snowden is 29.

"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.

At the same time, legal experts saw differences between the two cases, namely that Manning's secret-spilling was more scattershot, while Snowden appeared more selective.

"I'm not awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom here," Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale Law School, said of Snowden. "I'm just saying you could say it is something more akin to educating the American public about sensitive surveillance issues that have some level of First Amendment concern attached to them."

As for how Snowden's revelation will affect the Manning case, Fidell said it probably won't influence the military judge, who is hearing the case without a jury, but "it ratchets up the entire subject in the public eye." Fidell said it could spur outrage about government secrecy in general, but could also underscore the dangers of leaks — and that, he said, won't help Manning.

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