Accused of leaking the files released as Cablegate, as well as the Afghan war Diaries, the Iraq War Logs and the Collateral Murder footage, Bradley Manning will face a trial in August. By then he would have spent more than 800 days imprisoned. His trial and the treatment he received while in solitary confinement has attracted the attention of NGOs and the United Nations. The National Press Club, along with 46 other press organisations, wrote a letter to Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson requesting more transparency on court martial proceedings and particularly in Bradley Manning’s. The UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Ernesto Mendez has also condemned the treatment Bradley Manning received while in solitary confinement in Quantico: “I believe Bradley Manning was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the excessive and prolonged isolation he was put in during the eight months he was in Quantico,” he told the AFP.
December 16th-22nd 2011: article 32 hearing
Article 32 hearings are the military equivalent of preliminary hearings in civilian courts. An investigation is conducted in order to decide whether charges should be referred to a general court martial or not. Investigating officers are responsible for leading article 32 hearings. The accused is allowed to bring witnesses that need to be granted by the investigative officer; however, the accused cannot compel anyone to appear in court who does not wish to come. Article 32 hearings are also the opportunity for the defense to find out as much as possible about the charges.
From December 16th to 22nd 2011 Bradley Manning attended an article 32 hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland. The investigative officer who conducted the hearing was Lt. Col. Paul Almanza. The 22 charges presented by the prosecution include “giving intelligence to the enemy through indirect means” and “aiding the enemy.” Bradley Manning’s article 32 hearing lasted six days. The prosecution has already stated they would not seek death penalty, which can be requested for “aiding the enemy.”
Bradley Manning’s lawyer David Coombs opened the hearing with the cross-examination of the Investigating Officer. According to him, Lt. Col. Paul Almanza should have recused himself for four reasons:
- Lt. Col. Paul Almanza has been working since 2002 as a prosecutor for the US Department of Defense. This situation indicates a conflict of interest: indeed, the US department of Defense is also involved in criminal investigation against Julian Assange.
- Coombs asked for 48 witnesses but the Investigating Officer only granted him two.
- Bradey Manning’s lawyer also requested that parts of the hearing be conducted in private so that the media would not influence the trial. The request was rejected.
- The investigative officer refused to allow Coombs to bring witnesses who would question the nature of the material and whether the release of Cablegate, the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diaries, and the video Collateral Murder really harmed the United States.
Coombs used these four points to display Almanza’s partiality and request a change in Investigating Officer. Almanza temporarily retreated to determine whether “a reasonable person” would consider him biased. The US government’s lawyer questioned Almanza about his relation to Assange and whether he had been involved in the criminal investigation. He concluded Almanza was unbiased and would be considered as such by a reasonable person aware of all the facts. The investigative officer eventually concluded himself that he was fitting for his position.
During the six days of the hearing a series of witnesses called by the prosecution and the defense came to answer questions and respond to cross-examination. The prosecution focused on attempting to prove Bradley Manning was responsible for the leaking of the files handed to Wikileaks, while the defense stressed his poorly handled psychological disorders and the loose supervision of computers containing classified materials.
- The prosecution called Capt. Thomas Chirepko, the head of unit Bradley Manning belonged to, who confirmed that soldiers were allowed to bring CDs, DVDs and play video games on computers containing classified materials. He added that there was “no technical restriction from burning a CD with classified information on it.”
- Capt. Steven Lim, top intelligence officer in Manning’s unit, said he was not fully aware of Bradley Manning’s emotional troubles. Pfc Manning had warned Master Sergeant Adkins (the highest ranking officer in his unit), confessing that he suffered from severe psychological problems such as gender identification disorder which hampered his ability to work. But Atkin decided to neither take any measures himself nor inform Capt. Lim. Referring to an event in which Manning flipped a table and seemingly headed to grab a weapon, Lim said it was not as minor as the prosecution claimed. Lim explained that if he had been informed of the event, then Manning would have obtained a “derog,” which would have put an end to his access to the intelligence unit.
- Special Agent Troy Bettencourt, who investigated the case, was called to discuss the role of WikiLeaks. He suggested that WikiLeaks was soliciting submission and referred to a list of “most wanted” files.
- Computer Crime Investigative Unit (CCIU) agent David Shaver came to confirm precisely when Manning downloaded the Collateral Murder video, the Guantanamo detainee files, and 10,000 diplomatic cables. He also made note of a video of the Granai air strike as well as pictures and videos of the Farah incidents, which had been downloaded but have not been released by Wikileaks. Shaver explained that his forensic analysis led him to conclude that many things were out of place. On IntelLink – a group of intranets used by the US intelligence community – he found searches using the keywords WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and Iceland. The CIUU agent admitted he had not checked whether the diplomatic cables found on Bradley Manning’s computer matched some of the 250,000 released by WikiLeaks. On an unallocated space of an SD card belonging to Manning, Shaver found the following “readme” note:
“Items of historical significance for two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, significant activities (SIGACTS) happening in between 000001 January 1, 2004 to 2951 0001 December 31, 2009. The extracts from .CSV documents from the Department of Defense (DoD) and CIDNE [Combined Information Data Network] database. These items have already been sanitized of any source identity information. You might need to sit on this information 90-100 days to figure out how best to send and distribute such a large amount of data to a large audience. This is perhaps one of the most significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st Century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day.”
A message including Julian Assange’s phone number in Iceland was also found on a hard drive.
- CCIU contractor Mark Johnson confirmed he had found the chat log between Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo on Manning’s computer. He also showed that Julian Assange was in the “buddy list” of Bradley Manning’s jabber account. He had also been able to find a log of the CDs that had been burnt and erased: the entries began on February 27th 2010 and ended on March 29th of the same year.
- Specialist Jihrleah Showman came to explain how she had alerted her superiors about Manning’s mental health issues. She said that “he punched [her] in the face unprovoked and displayed uncontrollable behaviour that was deemed untrustworthy.” She also referred to an event in which he flipped a table and seemingly headed to grab a weapon, which was previously mentioned by Capt. Lim. Her superiors rejected her suggestion of discharging him from of the army.
- Special Agent Antonio Patrick Edwards confirmed that hacker Adrian Lamo had been the informant and had spontaneously provided the information without expecting any financial reward.
- Adrian Lamo was himself called as a witness by the prosecution. He acknowledged the chat logs as authentic and explained that he had felt compelled to act, describing Bradley Manning’s actions as “outrageous.” During the conversations he had with Adrian Lamo, Manning explained the reason why he decided to release the classified files:
Hypothetical question: if you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time… say, 8-9 months… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do? [...]Things that would have an impact on 6.7 billion people. I dont believe in good guys versus bad guys anymore… i only see a plethora of states acting in self interest… with varying ethics and moral standards of course, but self-interest nonetheless [...]I mean, we’re better in some respects… we’re much more subtle… use a lot more words and legal techniques to legitimize everything [...]But just because something is more subtle, doesn’t make it right. I guess im too idealistic. I had always questioned the things worked, and investigated to find the truth… but that was a point where i was a *part* of something… I was actively involved in something that i was completely against…
When the defense asked him why the conversation had been on going when he knew he was going to inform on Pfc Bradley Manning, and even though he had promised confidentiality, Lamo responded that Bradley Manning had not affirmatively accepted the confidentiality offer.
- The last day the two witnesses allowed by the defense came to testify. Sgt. Padgett told the court that during a counseling session where he reminded Pfc Bradley Manning of the importance of arriving on time, Manning had blankly stared straight ahead and flipped the table into the air, crashing two computers and a radio to the ground. The other witness was Capt. Keay who also confirmed that soldiers were used to bringing CDs, DVDs and video games during their shifts.
- Under legal counsel, two witnesses refused to testify: Master Sergeant Atkin and WO1 Kyle Balonek. David Coombs insisted that their testimony was crucial and that they should be compelled to talk but Investigative Officer Paul Almanza rejected the suggestion claiming that a “reasonable person” would not consider that they should have to talk.
- Other witnesses called by the prosecution were present to evoke their relation to Bradley Manning or knowledge of the investigation of his hard drives and computers: special agent Toni Graham, special agent Calder Robertson, staff sergeant Peter Bigalow, CCIU agent Mark Mander, sergeant Chad Madaras, software engineer Jason Allen Milliman.
In a final statement that gathered the evidence brought up during the past 6 days the prosecution attorney Ashden Fein said Bradley Manning had given documents to WikiLeaks knowing that the enemy – “including Al Qaeda” – would therefore be able to access them. He suggested Manning had planned to send more cables.
Pfc Bradley Manning made no statement.
Article 32 sources:
No recording devices were allowed within the courtroom. The transcripts used in this article are based on note takings from journalists and supporters.
Bradley Manning Support Network: transcript of the final day of Article 32 hearing
Bradley Manning Support Network: transcript of day six of Article 32 hearing
Bradley Manning Support Network: transcript of day five of Article 32 hearing
Bradley Manning Support Network: transcript of day four of Article 32 hearing
Bradley Manning Support Network: transcript of day three of Article 32 hearing
Bradley Manning Support Network: transcript of day two of Article 32 hearing
Bradley Manning Support Network: transcript of the first day of Article 32 hearing
Kevin Gosztola’s live blog of the final day of Article 32 hearing
Kevin Gosztola’s live blog of the day six of Article 32 hearing
Kevin Gosztola’s live blog of the day five of Article 32 hearing
Kevin Gosztola’s live blog of the day four of Article 32 hearing
Kevin Gosztola’s live blog of day three of Article 32 hearing
Kevin Gosztola’s live blog of day two of Article 32 hearing
Kevin Gosztola’s live blog of the first day of Article 32 hearing
Kevin Gosztola’s analysis of the two witnesses who refused to testify
February 23rd: first hearing of the pre-trial
Following the article 32 hearing Paul Almanza decided to pursue all 22 charges and to assign Bradley Manning to general court martial. The first hearing was held on February 23rd at Fort Meade and lasted 50 minutes. The hearings allow the defense to decide whether they want to enter a plea as well as to set up a date for the trial. David Coombs quizzed the judge – Colonel Denise Lind – about her prior knowledge of the case. She concluded with saying she had no preconceptions and set up March 15th and 16th as the dates for the next court session. No precise date was given for the trial, and it was delayed until August. Bradley Manning declined to enter a plea and deferred his decision to be judged by a military jury or a judge alone.
First hearing sources:
Bradley Manning Support Network: Notes from Bradley Manning’s Arraignment
CBS: Bradley Manning arraigned but enters no plea
Logan Price’s column in the Guardian: “Bradley Manning’s quest for justice”
Kevin Gosztola’s live blog of the first hearing of the pre-trial
March 15-16th: second hearing of the pre-trial
On March 15th and 16th the second hearing took place at Fort Meade. On March 15th David Coombs filed a motion to dismiss all charges, explaining that the prosecution had not revealed the evidence used in building their case. The prosecution replied they were only compelled to release evidences that were not considered classified materials. The defense recounted that they had been requesting a damage assessment since October 2010. The prosecution used to refer to an “alleged” defense assessment in their case against Manning. Ashden Fein admitted that there were actually five assessments: one from the State Department that was not finalized, one classified from the Wikileaks Task Force (CIA), one from the Defense Intelligence Agency that is also classified, another unfinished one from the Justice Department and finally one from the FBI, classified as well. The defense also referred to a video of Bradley Manning in Quantico. The prosecution denies its existence. Bradley Manning might therefore have to appear as a witness in an upcoming hearing to testify of its existence. The prosecution will have to respond to this motion.The prosecution also stated that by “enemy” the US government implied Al Qaeda and affiliated groups. On March 16th the judge denied a previous motion from the defense requesting to compel depositions from original classification authorities who had reviewed the WikiLeaks material to assess the danger it represented for the United States. The next hearing has been set up for April 24-26.
Second hearing sources:
Bradley Manning Support Network: Notes on Manning’s motion hearing
Kevin Gosztola’s live blog of day two of the second hearing of the pre-trial
Kevin Gosztola’s article on Coombs filing a motion to dismiss all charges
Alexa O’Brien’s transcript of the first day of the second hearing of the pre-trial
Written by Eva Blum-Dumontet (@Arcadian_O) and edited by WikiLeaks Press.