*The Military Public Affairs Office is not permitting the media to remain on base past noon. Therefore, you will have to wait for a report on what the prosecution presented.
Most significant was that the prosecution identified “the enemy” Manning is charged with “aiding.” They played an Al Qaeda propaganda video and said he knowingly passed on information to Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and similar enemies through WikiLeaks.
I intend to post a full report on the prosecution’s closing argument before the day is over.
[UPDATE - 8:51 AM EST] Awaiting presentation of closing arguments that are slated to begin at 9:00 AM EST this morning—
It is worth noting it was highly unlikely from the start that this case would not move on to a court martial. Thus, rather than proving innocence, that is why the press and public have witnessed a defense strategy that involves trying to mitigate the outcome by showing the absurdity and prudishness of government secrecy, which presents information that poses no threat to military soldiers from ever becoming public. It also has involved shining a light on the dereliction of duty among military commanding officers.
For the defense, it was never in their interest to reveal all the evidence they might have (though this would have been a good time to test a “whistleblower defense” argument).
The defense needed to save some ammunition – for lack of a better word – for the court martial, if they expect to have any effect on the government’s effort to prosecute Manning.
[UPDATE - 8:29 AM EST]
[UPDATE - 8:17 AM EST] Media pool receives final legal matter expert briefing. We are given a run down of what could happen next and we are told a decision on referring to court-martial will be based on a “full file” of evidence, including the IO’s report on the hearing. There will be no investigation outside of the evidence presented so Michael Linnington, the general convening authority for the military district of Washington, DC, will make a decision based on the evidence in this hearing and in the “full file.”
We are told, also, 300,000 additional documents are to be considered by the IO.
[RECAP] Bradley Manning’s Article 32 hearing or, as it is more generally called, pre-trial hearing resumes today. Closing arguments will happen this morning. The defense and prosecution have no more evidence to present or witnesses to testify.
Members of the prosecution include Captain Ashden Fein, Captain Joe Morrow and Captain Angel Overgaard and Captain Hunter Whyte. Members of the defense include Mr. David Coombs, Major Matthew Kemkes and Captain Paul Bouchard. The investigation is Investigative Officer Paul Almanza
I have been here at Ft. Meade covering the hearing since it began on Friday, December 16.
Some highlights from the hearing:
—Coombs immediately called for IO Almanza to be recused. Citing Almanza’s employment with the Justice Department (DoJ) and the fact that the DoJ has an investigation into WikiLeaks, Coombs objected to Almanza being the Article 32 investigative officer because he would be biased. Part of his objection rested on the fear that the DoJ would have an interest in flipping Manning to testify against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. (For more, see this report.)
—CCIU agents presented evidence from forensic tests of computers, hardware and digital media Manning used or possessed. The evidence showed the exact dates and times when information was accessed and downloaded. It showed that the CDNE Afghanistan (war logs), CDNE Iraq (war logs), JTF GTMO detainee assessment reports, the US State Embassy cables and the “Collateral Murder” video was very similar to what WikiLeaks released.
—Sgt. Paul Adkins & WO1 Kyle J. Balonek invoked their Article 31 rights. The IO refused to force either to testify. Coombs objected and claimed Adkins was invoking his rights on dubious grounds. He also said something similar when Balonek invoked his rights. (Report here.)
—Hacker Adrian Lamo testified. The prosecution asked him about making first contact with Manning, his Asperger’s syndrome, his use & dependency on prescription drugs, tipping CCIU off to Jason Katz, a person who allegedly was trying to decrypt a video of the Farah incident in Afghanistan and his work as a “confidential informant.” Coombs cross-examined Lamo and pressed him on specific sections of the Manning-Lamo chat logs. He wanted Lamo to specifically address the protection he initially offered Manning when he said he was a journalist and a minister.
—The defense presented its side of the case. Only two witnesses took the stand. Ten of their witnesses had already testified, as they were on the prosecution’s witness list as well. They wanted 48 witnesses to testify, including the ten on the prosecution’s list. That means thirty-six witnesses, ultimately, were not allowed to take the stand. (Note: No witnesses took the stand to specifically address Manning’s pre-trial confinement.)
The proceedings for Wednesday, December 21, are to begin at 9:00 AM EST. It is unknown how long the proceedings will run today. But, the arguments are only expected to run two to two and a half hours. So, we could be done by 11:00 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.