(PFC Bradley Manning stepping out of a security vehicle outside a courthouse in Fort Meade, MD. Photo: AP/Patrick Semansky)
Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing began at 9:00 AM on Friday, December 16. It must be noted that this is not a trial but a hearing to decide whether or not there are reasonable grounds to charge PFC Manning and continue with a court-martial hearing. That being said, there will be no “guilty” or “not guilty” verdict at the end of these hearings. Journalists who were allowed to sit in on the hearings were warned of “regular blackouts” while the court went in to private session.
There are a total of 34 counts against PFC Manning, the most serious of which is UCMJ Article 104, “Aiding the Enemy.”
Defense: Mr David Coombs, Major Matthew Kemkes, Captain Paul Bouchard
Prosecution: Captain Ashden Fein, Captain Joe Morrow, Captain Angel Overgaard
Investigative Officer: Lieutenant Colonel Paul Almanza
Today was the first day the defense got to call witnesses. The first day was spent debating whether the IO was suited for the hearing, and the following four days consisted of the prosecution calling their witnesses.
Defense Witness Testimony: Sergeant Daniel Padgett
SGT Daniel Padgett worked in the SCIF with PFC Manning. He was tasked to be the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCIOC), even though he had no formal training and was not an NCO at the time.
SGT Padgett testified about an incident involving PFC Manning in which he flipped over a table which had computers on it. SGT Padgett said he was counseling PFC Manning after he had been late for duty and that PFC Manning stared blankly ahead and then flipped over the table. Contrary to the testimony of CPT Lim and CPT Fulton, SGT Padgett said PFC Manning did not reach for a gun from the gun rack, and was restrained by soldiers to keep him from getting anything that could harm himself. SGT Padgett said he could not recall talking to MSG Adkins or any commanding officers about the incident. There was also no disciplinary action against PFC Manning.
CPT Overgaard of the prosecution cross-examined SGT Padgett about whether or not music was authorized in the SCIF. SGT Padgett said that there were music files on the shared drive, and that soldiers had been allowed to bring CDs in, as long as they were not rewritable. He said there were no movies on the shared drive.
SGT Padgett was also asked about Operation Security and his training thereof. SGT Padgett said he had never signed a non-disclosure agreement reminding him to safeguard classified information, but he also said that soldiers were expected to do so, especially those with security clearances. CPT Overgaard asked SGT Padgett if he had ever burned classified information on a CD for personal use. He answered, “No.”
Defense Witness Testimony: Captain Barclay Keay
CPT Barclay Keay a supervisor of three soldiers on the night shift in the SCIF, including PFC Manning. CPT Keay said there were no non-commissioned officers (NCOs) during the night shift because it was not as active as the daytime.
CPT Keay testified that he saw soldiers watching video clips and listening to music, but had never seen them playing video games on the computers. CPT Keay had given a sworn statement to the Secretary of the Army investigator which said he did not find it appropriate to have any media in the SCIF. He thought having media on the computers would be seen negatively and that the military should not be so liberal about it. Despite believing it to be inappropriate, CPT Keay was told that allowing the soldiers to have music was an “accepted practice” and helped the soldiers to be “more productive.”
CPT Keay also said he believed PFC Manning wanted to be a good soldier, and that he tried to do—and did—good analytical work.
PFC Manning was asked by LTC Almanza if he wished to make a statement, to which he replied, “No, Sir.”
Comments on Small Number of Witnesses Called by Defense
A national security attorney, Mark Zaid, said it was not surprising for the defense to only call two witnesses:
”For one thing, an Article 32 (hearing) serves as an opportunity for the defense to obtain pre-trial discovery, and particularly information they do not know. Additionally, the likelihood of stopping charges from going forward is non-existent in this case so there is little value in telegraphing to the prosecution information the defense may possess but might not yet have revealed.”
Though this seems to contest with the defense’s original request for 48 witnesses, and the response they filed after the government denied all requested witnesses.
After calling their witnesses, the defense rested their case. Tomorrow both the defense and prosecution will give their closing statements. By January 16, the Investigative Officer LTC Paul Almanza will make a recommendation on whether or not PFC Manning should face court martial and if so, on which charges.