Bradley Manning’s Article 32 hearing or, as it is more generally called, pre-trial hearing resumes today with the government laying out the evidence it thinks it has to support their prosecution.

Members of the prosecution are Captain Ashden Fein, Captain Joe Morrow and Captain Angel Overgaard. Members of the defense are Mr. David Coombs, Major Matthew Kemkes and Captain Paul Bouchard.

A quick recap from yesterday:

  • Coombs immediately presented arguments against Almanza and called for Lt. Col. Paul Almanza to recuse himself from his position as the investigative officer (IO) presiding over the hearing. He provided multiple reasons why he was biased against Manning, the most significant reason involved his history working for the Justice Department.
  • The US stated they did not think Almanza was biased.
  • Almanza announced in court he would not be recusing himself. He did not think he was biased
  • Coombs indicated he would push for a writ to be filed to stay the proceedings. He also requested a verbatim transcript of the proceedings (which the government ended up granting for just the day so it could be used to file the writ for the stay.)
  • WikiLeaks lawyers submitted a writ requesting access to the proceedings due to the fact that they were relevant to their clients, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

[For a complete blow-by-blow of Day 1 here is the live blog post from yesterday.]

The proceedings for Saturday, December 17, are to begin at 10:00 AM EST. I am in the Media Operations Center (MOC) at Ft. Meade. I am unable to post live updates while court is in session but check back here for updates throughout the morning and afternoon. I will be posting during breaks and when classified information is being reviewed (because press and the public are not allowed to follow these portions of the hearing). Also, follow me at @kgosztola for quick updates.

10:00 PM Final Note on the Day

There appear to be two arguments being crafted by the defense: one is Bradley Manning had behavioral health issues and emotional problems, which the military should have done something about or they should have never deployed Manning in the first place. The second is loosely related but has more to do with the lack of information security in the SCIF where Manning worked.

Coombs argued the SCIF at the base where Manning was stationed had no standard operating procedure (SOP). Captain Steven Lim, a top intelligence officer in Manning’s unit, asserted there was an SOP. Lim was then questioned on Sgt. First Class Paul Adkins’ training. Apparently in one hour, after 100 slides, Adkins was expected to be consider trained to keep the SCIF secure.

The procedure for inventorying and applying to get DVDs/CVDs for burning classified information on to a disc was illuminated through Coombs’ cross-examination of Lim. CDs and DVDs could carry classified information but they were to have labels and standard forms to easily identify was on the discs. They were required to do this so classified materials were not put into an unclassified machine. The inventory process included having to sign out materials. It was explained by Lim that CDs are used for taking products to be translated by linguists, especially if the information could not be emailed.

However, Coombs mentioned he had seen photos of the SCIF with “CDs laying all over.” Many of the CDs were not labeled. From time to time, this is how many CDs were handled. Soldiers are allowed to have music but the bringing in of music CDs was scarcely regulated. Soldiers are allowed to leave with writeable CDs if they had “official purposes” but that was “trusted and not enforced.

To protect secret information from leaving, Lim said, when asked how that was enforced, “You double wrap it and you take it out.” Music was put on terminals, machines hooked to SIPRnet. Soldiers were watching movies on terminals and sometimes even found on the SIPRnet machines. Games were able to be found on SIPRnet.

This was the state of affairs in the location where one of the biggest intelligence breaches in the history of the world is believed to have happened. It is where Manning is alleged to have taken CDs with classified information, one even marked “Lady Gaga,” back to his living quarters. With conditions like this, one almost wonders why it took so long during one of the most unpopular wars in American history for a soldier to (allegedly) decide he was going to release the information so people could see reports on what was really going on.

6:25 PM – Quick Round Up (Before I Leave the Base as We Are on Recess Until Tomorrow Morning)

Much more to report. Will post additional details from proceedings soon and will be back tomorrow with a Day 3 live blog.

6:05 PM Special Agent Troy Bettencourt outlines his perception of  the activities of WikiLeaks in court. Bettencourt, who was with Army CID and part of the intrusion team doing the investigation into Manning, shared a history of WikiLeaks. He described it as a kind of  ”intelligence agency of people bound to no government or entity. He said the website “solicits submissions” information that would be of interest to them. They ask for classified information. He talked about the submission page WikiLeaks used to have and said one could go andclick on a “submit button.” One could then click on a document on your computer and then transmit it to “WikiLeaks over encryption.” He informed the court servers have at times been located in Sweden, Iceland, Germany, Texas, in fact, used Amazon servers at one point. He called this “good disaster planning.” Also mentioned was the Iceland modern media initiative that WikiLeaks had moved to Iceland to take shelter under because it reformed “laws to be more favorable to journalism” and made “Iceland akin to journalism what Switzerland is to banking.” Finally, Bettencourt stated there was a “most wanted list” on the website and the site would say what it wanted submitted: CIA/ detainee interrogation videos, rules of engagement pertaining to Iraq, Camp Delta SOP /interrogation SOPs, rules of engagement in Afghanistan.

1:28 PM Defense plans to focus part of their argument on Manning’s behavioral health and sexual orientation issues. Both prosecution witnesses, Graham and Robertson, were asked whether they were able to find anything on Manning’s sexual orientation, whether he was homosexual, etc. Graham is asked if any materials indicating he had gender identity disorder were found in search of living quarters. Robertson was asked if he was able to tell from his analysis whether Manning was Gay. First he refused to answer. IO compelled him to answer the question. He said “negative.” The defense asked about Manning’s alter ego, “Breanna Manning” (which appears in chat logs).

The prosecution has challenged the defense’s attempts to ask witnesses about Manning’s sexual orientation and behavioral health problems, such as how he was unpopular in his unit. The defense was pressed to justify asking these questions by the IO each time. And, each time the defense said the state of mind of their client is relevant to the case so questions must be asked.

1:24 PM Prosecution witness Special Agent Calder Robertson testifies telephonically from Germany. He conducted forensic imaging analyses of Bradley Manning’s computers and hardware, including a CD-RW disc.

1:15 PM Jennifer Robinson, lawyer for WikiLeaks, and Amanda Jacobsen, lawyer for Center for Constitutional Rights are attending proceedings. They have filed another request to the court. They continue to want their clients, Julian Assange & WikiLeaks, to be able to have full access to proceedings. They even are demanding access to the portions of proceedings where classified information is being discussed.

1:10 PM Defense presses witness on validity of sworn affidavit. More details on that to come but most important is fact that this affidavit was used to justify confining Manning at Quantico. It was cited during his pre-trial confinement hearing.

12:48 PM Prosecution witness admits “Collateral Murder” video is unclassified. Those in the media operation center did not see the first ten minutes of the feed. The court didn’t flip a switch or didn’t notify the public affairs staff at the MOC. It flipped on and the defense was doing a cross-examination of Special Agent Toni Graham.

The cross-examination focused on the authorized search & seizure of Manning’s computers, any computer he would have accessed while on the base, and his living quarters. It also centered on what has now been established as a dubious conclusion that formed the motivation for a sworn affidavit.

First, Graham said “five million” have seen the “Collateral Murder” video showing the July 2007 Apache helicopter attack. “They are unauthorized” because this is classified.

An authorized search granted by the military magistrate of Bradley Manning’s SHU (living quarters) was mentioned moments later. Graham described finding a box containing a CD labeled July 12, 2007. The defense asked, “What effect or any would it have to place a secret label on unclassified video?” She replied, “He’s not supposed to have classified information in his personal area. He should not have that and honest I am not sure if that was unclassified when he released it.”

The defense pushed the witness, who at some point admitted she was not aware the video was unclassified.

11:15 AM Good point to raise as we wait for this to resolve itself: Why did Graham have to be the first witness? Why not ask someone else to come to testify as a second witness? Why make the court wait for Graham so she can call in 30 minutes later from her office? Why let her be longer than 30 minutes? The court is not in back in session yet.

And, most critically, why should the IO tolerate this?

10:50 AM Again, the proceedings begin with stopping and starting. This time the proceedings are interrupted for recess because the government prosecution had one of their witnesses call in from Schofield Base in Hawaii on a cell phone and it was impossible for the court to understand the witness. The witness, Toni Graham, a Special Agent for CID and affiliated with the 102nd MP Attachment, was to testify telephonically. The IO could not understand the witness. The witness could not understand her. Why didn’t the witness call in on a land line? David Coombs stepped in to tell the court we should recess and have her call from a land line. Graham can get to an office in 30 minutes and access a land line. So, now we’re waiting for the witness.

Adding to the absurdity, every time Graham’s voice emanated in the court room the camera went to a shot of a speaker box. Why? Cameras in court room are voice activated.

9:45 AM While we’re waiting to begin, I just want to genuinely express thanks to the public affairs staff on the base that are handling media and allowed me to still come to the Media Operations Center (MOC) this morning even though I was late. I was following GPS directions that took me to a couple addresses that were not the base entrance I needed. I showed up a few minutes after last caravan of media took off from the checkpoint to be escorted to the MOC. The public affairs staff did not have to come out and get me so I could cover Day 2 but they did. So, I must thank them for being reasonable and giving me an individual escort about 9 am this morning.

9:20 AM The writ filed for a stay of proceedings was denied by the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.

9:05 AM Arrived at the media operations center. Ready to report on the proceedings for the day.