FORT MEADE, Md. _ A defense attorney for Pfc. Bradley Manning on Thursday asked a military judge to dismiss all but three of the 22 charges against his client, saying the U.S. government “over charged” in the case and needs a “reality check.”

David Coombs, who is defending Manning against charges that he leaked hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks, contended that there was no evidence the secret papers had caused any harm.

“If anything, it has helped,” Coombs said.

He accused government officials _ including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton _ of having a “Chicken Little response” to the leaks.

“The sky is not falling,” Coombs said. “The sky has not fallen. The sky will not fall.” Coombs said the government is trying to “strong arm” his client into accepting a plea deal. The statements were part of the closing arguments presented Thursday at an Article 32 hearing at Fort Meade. The presiding officer, essentially a judge, will use the evidence to recommend whether Manning should face a court-martial.

The government prosecutor, Capt. Ashden Fein, used a PowerPoint presentation to show logs that detailed Manning’s minute-by-minute computer activity in Iraq. Electronic records showed Manning searching classified databases, burning the information onto a CD and uploading that information to his personal Macintosh computer.

Prosecutors also introduced chat logs between Manning and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website. In one instance, Manning and Assange were shown to be chatting electronically as Manning was uploading secret military assessments regarding Guantanamo detainees.

“I’m throwing everything I got ... at you now,” Manning typed.

Assange replied: “Okay, great.”

Fein said Manning showed “absolute indifference to handling classified information.” His closing presentation featured a video of an al-Qaida operative discussing the WikiLeaks information and urging followers to mine the Internet to learn about the United States.

“We trained and trusted” Manning, Fein said. “He used that training to defy our trust.” The investigating officer, Army Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, has until Jan. 16 to make a recommendation to the Special Court-Martial Convening Authority, Col. Carl Coffman. Coffman in turn is to make a recommendation to the General Court-Martial Convening Authority, Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington.

(c)2011 The Baltimore Sun