RALLY FOR BRADLEY/START OF COURT MARTIAL PROCEEDINGS/ARTICLE 32 PRE-TRAIL HEARING
VIGIL (or attend hearing) Friday, December 16th, 8am to 5pm
RALLY & MARCH Saturday, December 17th, Noon to 3pm
After a rally and vigil, supporters will march via the sidewalk along MD 175/Rouse Pkwy/
Defense suggests accused WikiLeaker was troubled soldier
hearing to be Manning's first appearance since 2010 arrest Fort Meade
By Matthew Hay Brown, The
7:06 PM EST, December 10, 2011
To his supporters, Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning is a hero, the whistle-blower who revealed
To the government, which is bringing criminal charges against the former intelligence analyst, he is a turncoat who endangered lives and damaged relations with allies by stealing and leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.
But papers filed by his attorney suggest a third, more complex profile: a skilled computer technician who struggled with mental health, emotional and behavioral problems. A bright young man troubled by
Manning, 23, is scheduled to appear at
He is suspected of leaking field reports from
The disclosure has been called one of the largest security breaches in
The Article 32 hearing, scheduled to begin Friday, would be Manning's first public appearance since his arrest May 2010 at a
If convicted of the charges, Manning could face life in prison. Aiding the enemy is a capital offense, but Army prosecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty.
Also facing possible criminal prosecution by the
The hearing will be a return to
Manning's attorney has limited comments on the case to blog posts and court filings. Attorney David E. Coombs has cautioned against inferring defense strategy from the court papers, but the witness list and evidence motions he filed this month do suggest themes he might pursue during the hearing.
The 48 witnesses he requested include supervisors and fellow soldiers who, he says, would testify that Manning "should not have been a soldier," "seemed to act immature," "was not receptive to commands," and "was suffering from extreme emotional issues."
Coombs says one witness would describe finding Manning "curled in the fetal position in the Brigade conference room, rocking himself back and forth" and another would say his unit "failed to properly respond to the issues that PFC Manning was obviously struggling with."
Coombs has also requested testimony from a psychologist who evaluated Manning in December 2009. The psychologist determined that Manning was "potentially dangerous to himself and others" and recommended that his weapon be taken from him, according to Coombs.
The witness list also includes a supervisor who would testify that she recommended Manning not be deployed to
Coombs says the supervisor would describe a debate among soldiers in the intelligence facility in which Manning worked about the actions of the Apache helicopter crew in the attack that killed 12 people, including a Reuters journalist and his driver.
The witnesses are described but not identified in the version of the list that was cleared for public release. One, Coombs says, would testify that Manning was upset by a report that "some Iraqis or possibly some Moroccans" had been arrested for printing documents critical of the Iraqi government.
According to Coombs, the witness would say that "if there was a moment in which PFC Manning may have snapped, this would have been it."
Another would testify that Manning confided to her that he was gay, feared losing his job and "felt like he had no one to talk to," Coombs says. Others would say Manning was "picked on" by fellow troops "because they assumed he was gay" and that "very few people would talk to" him.
The government has opposed the participation of most of the witnesses requested by Coombs, including mental health providers and key members of Manning's brigade.
In court filings, the government argues that testimony about his mental health and the decision to deploy him are irrelevant to the case "and will only serve to distract from the relevant issues." Coombs has asked the investigating officer to compel the participation of all witnesses.
He has also filed motions asking the Army to turn over assessments by the State Department and Pentagon that he says concluded the leaks "caused only limited damage to
He has also requested the presence of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who he says will affirm those opinions. Legal analysts say it unlikely either will be compelled to testify.
Nothing in the witness list or the requests for evidence appears to suggest that the defense plans to claim that Manning did not leak the material.
Eugene Fidell, a former Coast Guard attorney who teaches military justice at
"In other words, something that might soften the blow, in the event that he is convicted," Fidell said. "I don't see any of that information, even on a good day, as logically suggesting an acquittal, assuming he did what the government thinks he did."
Coombs has requested a video made when Manning was detained at the Marine Corps base in
The conditions of Manning's detention at
President Barack Obama and Pentagon officials have defended the conditions of his detention. Manning was moved from
Obuszewski says he has "no idea what Bradley Manning did or did not do" — but if he was a source for the material published by WikiLeaks, he is "one of the people responsible for the Arab Spring."
"A lot of people in the movements for democracy have read the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables," he said.
Manning's supporters — who include, most prominently, Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who released the Vietnam War records known as the Pentagon Papers — say the information he is accused of leaking was incorrectly and illegally classified. Whoever disclosed it should be protected from prosecution as a whistle-blower, they add.
Obuszewski says the Apache attack appears to be a "war crime."
"If Bradley Manning knows about war crimes, I would argue that this is information he has to release," Obuszewski said. "Whether it's classified et cetera, if you believe that there's violations of the law done by people above you in the chain of command, then you have to bring that information out."
In the video of the Apache attack, Americans can be heard laughing and calling the Iraqis "dead bastards."
The military concluded that the
Obama has said that Manning broke the law.
"We're a nation of laws," he told a Manning supporter in April. "We don't individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law."
That exchange, captured on a cellphone and uploaded to YouTube, has led Coombs to request Obama's presence at
The Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits a superior officer in the chain of command from comments or actions that could influence the deliberations of a subordinate charged with handling a military justice matter. As president, Obama is the commander-in-chief of
"I will bet my copy of the Manual for Court-Martial that neither President Obama nor Secretary Clinton nor Secretary Gates ever testifies in this case," said Fidell, a co-founder and former president of the National Institute of Military Justice. "I find it hard to believe that any investigating officer, or thereafter, any military judge, assuming this case goes to trial, would see them as critical to the development of the case or to the preservation of Manning's rights."
The hearing is expected to last five days. But it is unclear how much of the proceeding will take place in public — and how deeply it will delve into classified matters.
"It's kind of a fan dance," said Fidell. "The government has to make the point that this was a disclosure, an awful disclosure, without revealing more than the bare minimum about our security measures — and about the corrective measures that have been undertaken, as I'm sure they have, after the release."
The leaked material
WikiLeaks published a broad range of classified
• Video footage of a July 12, 2007, Apache helicopter attack in
• Field reports from
• Field reports from
• Diplomatic cables sent from embassies, consulates and other
Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs