2011-12-19 Summary of PFC Bradley Manning’s Pre-Trial Hearing, Dec 16-18

Bradley Manning's pre-trial hearing began at 9:00 AM on Friday, December 16 and it is expected to continue until December 23. 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 Amanza

Day One:

Early into the first day of hearings, PFC Manning's defense lawyer David Coombs
filed a motion requesting that LTC Paul Almanza, the presiding investigative officer, recuse himself. Mr Coombs listed four reasons for this request:

  1. He has served as a prosecutor under the Department of Justice since 2002, which is currently involved in an ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.
  2. The government had all its 20 requested witnesses granted, while only 12 of the defense's 48 requested witnesses were granted, 10 of them also being on the government's list.
  3. Mr Coombs had requested multiple times that specific, limited parts of the hearing to be held in private, to avoid media prejudice, but this was denied.
  4. No witnesses are being called who could challenge the nature of the leaked documents and question whether it harmed national interest.

Mr Coombs also brought up the fact that the government has asked for multiple delays and had them all granted.

In response to this, LTC Almanza said he was appointed to the case in August 2010, but was only aware of allegations that appeared on television or in articles. He said he made an effort not to read articles related to the case, and that he did not form opinions.

After a recess the US Government lawyer, Ashden Fein, stated he did not find LTC Almanza to be biased and that he does not need to recuse himself. Mr Coombs continued to question LTC Almanza, reiterating that being a part of the Department of Justice was enough of a reason for him to recuse himself. He also stated that hundreds of others could have been chosen for the investigative officer (IO) position. LTC Amanza cited a case where a DoJ member had been the IO. LTC Amanza refused to recuse himself, which led to Mr Coombs filing a writ for stay of proceedings.

The only time PFC Manning spoke during the hearing was to confirm that he understood the charges against him, his right to representation, and whether he was satisfied with his counsel.

Towards the end of this day's proceedings, a petition was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights who represent Julian Assange. The petition demanded that WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson and CCR lawyer Amy Jacobsen be granted access to the entirety of PFC Bradley Manning's hearing.

The day ended with neither the defense nor the prosecution having read their opening statements.

Image(Courtroom sketch of PFC Bradley Manning listening as his defense attorney David Coombs speaks. Photo: AP/William J. Hennessy Jr.)

Day Two:

The writ for stay of proceedings which Mr Coombs filed at the end of yesterday was denied.

Prosecution Witness: Special Agent Toni Graham

Toni Graham is a special agent for the US Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID). She was calling in from Schofield Barracks in Hawaii via cell phone and was inaudible to the court. Mr Coombs asked for a recess so Graham could get access to a landline phone.

Toni Graham testified about the authorized search and seizure of PFC Manning's computers, living quarters, and any computers he would have accessed on the base. Graham described finding a CD labeled July 12, 2007, which contained the Apache helicopter attack video now known as "Collateral Murder", in PFC Manning's room in a box ready to be mailed. Graham also spoke of finding documents in PFC Manning's room that related to gender identity disorder.

The defense pressed Graham on whether or not the Apache helicopter video was classified. Graham said she did not know, but MAJ Matthew Kemkes, one of PFC Manning's lawyers, confirmed that it was unclassified.

Graham was also asked about the sworn affidavit she signed that was used to justify PFC Manning's containment at Quantico Marine Base. She said that she had traveled to Iraq to carry out an initial investigation into PFC Manning after information had been passed to the military from a confidential source (presumably Adrian Lamo). She said the
FBI had vouched for the integrity of the source, and that the only information from the source that was verified before the affidavit was signed was that relating to PFC Manning's background and role in the military.

Prosecution Witness: Special Agent Calder Robertson

Special Agent Calder Robertson is a forensic IT expert who conducted forensic imaging analysis of PFC Manning's computers and hardware. He is based at the US Army's Computer Crimes Investigation Unit in Germany.

Robertson was questioned about PFC Manning's mental distress. He said he was not aware PFC Manning was gay, but that his female persona "Breanna" sounded familiar.

Prosecution Witness: Special Agent Tony Bettencourt

Tony Bettencourt is also a special agent for the US Army CID. He outlined his perception of WikiLeaks, calling it an "intelligence agency of people bound to no government or entity" and saying that it "solicits submissions." He described the previous method of uploading documents to WikiLeaks via electronic drop box, and spoke of their servers in multiple countries. He also stated there was a "most wanted" list on the website, which listed specific information WikiLeaks was interested in.

Prosecution Witness: Captain Steven Lim

CPT Steven Lim was the superior officer in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) where PFC Manning worked. He testified about the security in the SCIF. Training for SCIF security was a one hour session featuring 100 slides. According to protocol, CDs and DVDs were allowed to carry classified information, but must be labeled. Soldiers were also allowed to bring in their personal music CDs. Mr Coombs mentioned he had seen photos of the SCIF in which CDs were strewn about, unlabeled. There was also no system for checking if classified information was removed from the building. Music, movies, and games had been found on both NIPRNet (unclassified) and SIPRNet (classified) computers.

CPT Steven Lim spoke of being given a set of memorandums from SFC Paul Atkins, PFC Manning's immediate supervisor, which detailed PFC Manning's emotional behavior dating back to before he was deployed to Iraq in October of 2009. SFC Atkins did not inform anyone else about these issues until PFC Manning was arrested on June 3, 2010. CPT Lim testified that if he had known of an incident in which PFC Manning reached for a gun from a gun rack, he would have recommended PFC Manning be issued with a "Derogatory Comment", which in turn would have stripped him of his security clearance. SFC Atkins was demoted from his previous rank, Master Sergeant, for failure to pass on crucial information related to PFC Manning.

Prosecution Witness: Special Agent Mark Mander

Special Agent Mark Mander is part of the Army Computer Crimes Investigative Unit. He had obtained chat logs from Adrian Lamo and noted that a copy of the chat logs were also found on property collected from PFC Manning.

Mander described a second individual, Jason Katz, who Lamo had revealed was helping to decrypt a video of the Granai Airstrike. Mander said there was a zip file on Katz's computer called B.zip, which contained a video file "BE22PAZ.wmv" which, when the password was provided, opened into the video of the Granai Airstrike.

Special Agent Mark Mander, along with four other agents, searched the home of PFC Manning's aunt, Debra Van Alstyne. The agents searched the home at least twice and collected PFC Manning's computers. Mander testified how PFC Manning had phoned his aunt and asked about the 2007 Apache helicopter video and how it was being received in the US, and also asked her to make a post to the Facebook page about the video.

Today the Center for Constitutional Rights again filed for WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson and CCR lawyer Amy Jacobsen access to the hearings, after its former request was denied.

Image(PFC Bradley Manning's defense attorney, David Coombs, leaving a courthouse in Ft. Meade, MD. Photo: AP/Patrick Semansky)

Day 3:

The prosecution continued to call witnesses today.

Prosecution Witness: Sergeant Chad Madaras

SGT Madaras worked was a fellow intelligence analyst of PFC Manning's and worked in the same area as him, although on different shifts. They used the same computers. SGT Madaras testified that the "majority of the time" PFC Manning's tasks were unfinished and passed to him on the following shift. Later, when questioned by Mr Coombs, SGT Madaras said that some of the time PFC Manning did great work.

SGT Madaras was asked if he had searched phrases such as "WikiLeaks", "Julian Assange", and "Reykavik", to which he said he didn't. The prosecution also asked whether he had used Intellipedia to search information on the Guantanamo database, to which he also said he didn't. SGT Madaras also testified that he had never used PFC Manning's log-in and that he didn't know his passwords.

Mr Coombs also questioned SGT Madaras about PFC Manning's behavior. SGT Madaras testified about events where he'd seen PFC Manning slam items into his work station, but that no disciplinary action had been taken. He also said he had seen PFC Manning be irresponsive at times and stare into his computer screen. SGT Madaras said that PFC Manning didn't really have friends, and that he was picked on sometimes. He believed that PFC Manning was an outcast.

Prosecution Witness: Captain Casey Fulton

Captain Casey Fulton worked with PFC Manning in the SCIF as a superior intelligence officer. She testified about the type of work he did for her, including finding and compiling information, and said he did "good work" and was "good with computers."

CPT Fulton testified about the Apache helicopter video. She said a fellow analyst of PFC Manning's had it on her computer. CPT Fulton said that she had a group discussion with soldiers in the SCIF about the video after it had been released by WikiLeaks, and that afterwards PFC Manning came to her and said he thought it was the same video on their shared network drive.

When discussing music and videos being stored on shared network drives, CPT Fulton testified that she did not know it was wrong for soldiers to do so. She said that pirated movies bought from Iraqis were brought into the unit.

CPT Fulton said she believed a "Derogatory Comment" should have been issued to PFC Manning after the incident in which he reached for a gun from a gun rack, and also when he assaulted a fellow intelligence analyst.

Unavailable Witnesses

Two witnesses who were called to testify were deemed "unavailable" after invoking their Article 31 rights. These were Sergeant First Class Paul Adkins and Warrant Officer One Kyle Balonek, who refused to testify due to advice by legal counsel. SFC Adkins was PFC Manning's direct supervisor and set guidelines of what was and wasn't acceptable. He was one of the fifteen people disciplined in relation to improper decisions which put PFC Manning in a position to leak documents. In April 2010 he received an email from PFC Manning which said he was suffering from gender identity disorder and included a photo of PFC Manning dressed as a woman. SFC Adkins did not share this information with the chain of command, which is why he was disciplined.

Prosecution Witness: Jason Milliman

Jason Milliman is a field service engineer. He was uncooperative when asked if Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS-A) machines could crash if not defragmented properly. Mr Coombs also stated that the testimony he was giving was different than his sworn statement from January 2011, which said about a course beginning intelligence analysts take, "only set amount of time to learn a set amount of skills."

Prosecution Witness: Captain Thomas Cherepko

CPT Cherepko was an information assurance manager at PFC Manning's unit at Fort Hammer. During his cross-examination, he said that he didn't know if he was supposed to conduct security assessments of the network or if he had to make sure computers were certified or accredited. He said he had never submitted a Defense Information Certification and Accreditation Process (DICAP) package to verify if his systems met Department of Defense requirements security, and that he did not know how to do such a thing. Mr Coombs noted he had received a letter of admonishment for failure to ensure his brigade was properly certified and accredited.

Mr Coombs continued the cross-examination and asked if CPT Cherepko viewed SCIF inspections as part of his job, to which he replied that he didn't know and was unsure if the SCIF was inspected. In response to unauthorized music being stored on SIPRNet machines, CPT Cherepko said he removed music files when he found them, but said nobody was punished for putting music on the computers. Although he did say he informed higher officers, but could not recall their responses.

CPT Cherepko also stated that there was "no technical restriction from burning a CD with classified information on it."

Prosecution Witness: Special Agent David Shaver

Special Agent David Shaver is a computer crimes investigator. He testified that he found more than 10,000 sensitive documents on PFC Manning's work computer, and that they seemed to be in the process of being downloaded and moved. He also testified another machine had been used to search "WikiLeaks" and "Julian Assange" over 100 times.

Shaver will be cross-examined on Monday when the hearing resumes.

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