UPDATE – 9:05 PM And here’s video of my appearance on “The Alyona Show.”

UPDATE – 9:00 PM

@WikiLeaksTruck drew this courtroom sketch of Col. Denise Lind – the judge

UPDATE – 8:55 PM This the exact quote from Judge Lind on Lamo: “Please remember I just joined this case. Who is Adrian Lamo?” She officially became the judge on February 23. It is March 15 and she didn’t know of Lamo.

What is she doing? How has she prepared for this case? This motion hearing? She has little awareness of what was said during the Article 32 hearing. Why?

UPDATE – 3:53 PM I have to get to Washington, DC, to do “The Alyona Show” on RT. But, here is a quick update on what just happened when the court reconvened—

Coombs got up and stated that OCAs were essential witnesses, they were improperly denied at the Article 32 hearing and the government has “impeded access” to them. He pointed out that the witnesses should testified at hearing as this was why the court martial process was delayed. They were waiting on the OCA reports up until the last one was filed in November 2011.

The prosecution has had access to these witnesses to produce sworn declarations. However, the defense has not had the same access to the OCAs. And, in fact, Coombs claims they have not been allowed to contact the OCAs because the government has denied them access to such contact information improperly.

UPDATE – 3:09 PM There is a possibility that Manning testifies. Coombs says his client knows there is video that exists because he was being videotaped in Quantico Marine brig. The government says the video does not exist. Judge wants the defense to prove it exists. So, for limited purpose, Manning could take the stand.

UPDATE – 3:07 PM Full report on the defense’s motion for dismissal of charges posted here.

UPDATE – 2:03 PM The defense is trying to get disclosed damage assessments, FOIA requests for documents containing an investigation into the Apache helicopter attack in 2007 (“Collateral Murder”), computer forensic images and a Quantico video, which the government contends does not exist.

UPDATE –  1:58 PM I will be appearing on “The Alyona Show” on RT at 6 pm ET. I’ll be in studio to talk about Bradley Manning’s hearing today.

UPDATE – 1:45 PM Lunch recess now. Significant development—

Hearing the government’s explanation for why it was not producing information that the defense has tried to compel through discovery, Coombs decided to file a motion for all dismissal of charges prejudiced by the fact that certain information has not been provided. The explanation for why was not sufficient to Coombs. He waited for the response to his testimony on why he thought the government was utterly failing and then decided Manning has probably been prejudiced. So, the motion was handed to the judge.

UPDATE – 11:33 AM We heard during the arraignment that emails had been blocked. The government was complaining that it had not received emails. The problem was that some of them included the word “WikiLeaks” and were blocked by the spam filter. This is what Coombs said. It is part of the reason why the government was asked by Lind to address how it is going to ensure it is not missing communications between the judge, defense and others involved in the case from this point forward.

UPDATE – 11:20 AM Back-and-forth on proposed timelines for “time for motions.” Lind says response would be two weeks and then a week to consider all filings (after each hearing). She says “court had not considered reply briefs,” suggests those will be a “norm” for proceedings. Coombs mentions this may not be necessary and could infringe upon his client’s right to “speedy trial.” Lind answers by saying she is concerned, too, and knows Manning has been in confinement since May 2010. But, “the defense cannot request a speedy trial and then also make voluminous filings.”

UPDATE – 10:15 AM Five minute recess so the prosecution can locate some documents they cannot find.

UPDATE – 9:42 AM We are beginning now.

UPDATE – 9:32 AM An aside: The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee has released a report grading how government agencies respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The Federal Government earned a general C- grade.

The way this grade was decided involved a letter that requested that agencies:

…provide an electronic and sortable copy of its FOIA logs containing the following information: 1) the name of the requester; 2) the date of the request; 3) a brief description of the documents or records sought by the request; 4) any tracking number assigned to the request by the agency as required by Section 7 of the OPEN Government Act of 2007; 5) the date the request was closed, if not still an outstanding request; 6) whether records were provided in response to the request; 7) any additional identification number or codes assigned to the request by the agency for internal use.

Logs at the Justice Department, for example, were “inadequate.” They received a “D” grade.

UPDATE – 9:30 AM The part of the motion hearing that is to be conducted in secret is underway. We are running late (typical).

Anyways, I just met Josh Gerstein, who runs the “Under the Radar” blog at POLITICO. You should regularly read his posts if you aren’t already.

UPDATE – 9:05 AM Some photos from the gate of Fort Meade of Bradley Manning supporters during their morning vigil (courtesy of @NathanLFuller)

UPDATE – 8:50 AM We are about to begin soon. Before we get going, I’ll note that there is a bit of irony to the fact that the military scheduled court dates for Bradley Manning during Sunshine Week. I make this statement not because Sunshine Week is about defending leakers and whistleblowers. Actually, the week is about freedom of information and open government. It is about discussing what government can and should do so that government employees and even members of the military do not have to engage in conduct that makes them the subject of widespread investigations that could lead them to end up in jail for a long time.

Manning’s defense lawyer quoted Louis Brandeis in is his closing argument. “Sunlight is always the best disinfectant,” Coombs said. Acknowledging that Manning had released a lot of information that was probably classified for no good reason, it would appear that Manning’s case calls upon us to wonder about the scale of government secrecy in this country. If we decide that the government bureaucracy is such a beast and that it will relentlessly work to keep important information secret (e.g. water contamination that can cause childhood cancers at Camp Lejeune), we then must consider that breaking the law as Manning is accused of doing—violating a military code—may have some justification in the end because of the good that the release can and in some cases has produced.

Bradley Manning supporters hang poster during Manning's Article 32 hearing (photo: SaveBradley)

Original Post

Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, is appearing in court today for a pre-trial motion hearing. The military judge presiding over the hearing, Col. Denise Lind, is likely to set an actual date when Manning’s trial will begin.

Three motions will be discussed during the first day of what is expected to be a two-day hearing: a motion to compel discovery, a motion for a bill of particulars and a motion to compel depositions.

The motion to compel depositions is significant. Manning’s defense lawyer, David Coombs, has repeatedly made requests for depositions from original classification authorities (OCAs) out of court. OCAs are people who would truly have the authority to state whether there was any evidence to support charging Manning with “aiding the enemy.” They would be able to produce government findings on whether the security of the United States had been put at risk. They reviewed the classified information and submitted unsworn statements on what the release of the information would mean for national security and thus far Coombs has not been permitted to depose them.

The bill of particulars motion is also important because the motion deals with a defense request to have the government produce more specific information on the means and methods that Manning is alleged to have used to commit the crimes of which he is charged. And, the motion to compel discovery is a defense request to uncover evidence that is not known but would be helpful for the defense during the trial.

A legal matter expert for the military says Lind will probably set a calendar all the way out that details what hearings will be held in the run-up to the trial, when the trial will begin and how long that trial might be expected to last. The expert also says the prosecution, defense and judge had a “pre-trial conference” this morning. Whatever business discussed will be shared on the record.

One motion—a publicity order—was already decided. This motion, also from the defense, requested that prospective “panel members” not read or view any media related to Manning’s case. The government did not oppose. Essentially, this protects the rights of Manning so that people, who may serve on the jury for Manning’s trial, do not develop too many pre-conceived notions about the case.

Additionally, a few media here were responsible for a letter submitted to the Defense Department requesting access to records during the court-martial proceedings. There has yet to be any action on this request, which basically calls upon the Defense Department to grant the press the same access to materials on the trial that they grant to the press during military commissions proceedings for Guantanamo detainees.

And, the Bradley Manning Support Network and its supporters were expected to be at the gate holding a vigil or demonstration at 7 am this morning. Rallies in solidarity with Manning were expected to take place around the country today too.

I am at Fort Meade to cover the pre-trial motion hearing and will be reporting on the hearing all day. Updates will be posted at the top.