UPDATE – 11:00 PM EST A video update I recorded on the hearing today:
UPDATE – 8:11 PM EST The Herald Sun, a newspaper based in Australia, posts a report on the day’s proceedings. Of note:
A US military judge has ordered prosecutors to share more documents with WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning after defence lawyers accused them of hiding information that could help their client’s case…
…Judge Denise Lind ruled that government prosecutors must provide “damage assessment” reports from the CIA, the State Department, the FBI, the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (Oncix) and other documents that were relevant for the defence…
UPDATE – 8:08 PM EST Courthouse News reporter Adam Klasfeld in attendance was one of four reporters in attendance at the hearing today. He gives this quick update on Twitter.
UPDATE – 6:20 PM EST Here’s the AP report on today’s hearing which highlights the fact that the judge is “ordering prosecutors to account for themselves after accusations they withheld evidence.” AP deserves gratitude for being one of the few establishment media organizations that have been present at every pre-trial hearing so far.
UPDATE – 5:45 PM EST Zack Pesavento of Bradley Manning Support Network provides update on the decisions and developments that took place in the proceedings
- Motion to compel statement from prosecution on how it has taken steps to disclose known evidence (Brady material) that might negate or reduce Manning’s degree of guilt or reduce the punishment he might face if found guilty granted in part. Judge would not temporarily suspend proceedings.
- Prosecution ordered to provide timeline of communications with Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX), which is a department that had contacted over sixty agencies for reports on alleged harm caused by the leaks that would help them put together their own damage assessment report
- Manning’s defense lawyer David Coombs suggests the judge push against prosecution’s claims about evidence. He said she should pull at a string and if she did it would fall apart because it is misleading the court deliberately.
- No decision on whether witnesses will be called to testify from the FBI, DHS or ONCIX
UPDATE – 5:10 PM EST Alexa O’Brien of WLCentral.org reports that when military police confronted her it seemed the cops were trying to de-credential her. He said he did not recognize WL Central. This is not his decision. It’s the public affairs office’s decision. This is why the AP and Courthouse News reporters wanted to stand by and watch the police talk with O’Brien.
UPDATE – 4:50 PM EST O’Brien was reprimanded by a member of the military public affairs staff at Fort Meade. She then managed to get public affairs to credential her. About one hour later, the military police were called to remove her from the premise because public affairs thought she was being disruptive. An AP reporter and Courthouse News reporter stood by as the military police officer tried to “mediate” the problem and inform O’Brien of the rules. However, he would not allow them to be present. He essentially claimed he could not do his job if others were there as witnesses. They were ordered to leave, but O’Brien was allowed to record the conversation where he explained the rules and O’Brien posted audio.
UPDATE – 4:47 PM EST Alexa O’Brien, who writes for WLCentral.org and happens to be a plaintiff in the Center for Constitutional Rights’ lawsuit to order the judge to grant the press and public access to records in the court martial, reported from Fort Meade:
She found this out when she went to the Public Affairs Office on base to see if she had been credentialed. She walked in on the military, which had set out a cake for this retirement party. The space was booked and so media had to cover the hearing in the courtroom. They weren’t allowed to do it from the media center and that meant they had to cover everything with pen and paper and could not have computers to try and transcribe remarks from the proceedings.
UPDATE – 4:42 PM EST Court has wrapped. I’ll now list some updates that provide a recap for developments or incidents that occurred today.
The soldier accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, Pfc. Bradley Manning, was back in court today for another pre-trial hearing. The hearing was Manning’s sixth appearance in court at Fort Meade, Maryland, and was scheduled by the military judge presiding over the court martial during the previous hearing this month.
The Bradley Manning Support Network explains in an update, “To replace the private telephonic conferences between hearings wherein the prosecution attempted to relitigate substantive matters, Ft. Meade is holding an interim hearing for PFC Bradley Manning today and between all already-scheduled pretrial hearing sessions.”
The defense had multiple motions it intended to argue in open court. One motion, a relief motion calling on the military judge to temporarily suspend court martial proceedings and order the prosecution to state how it has taken steps to disclose known evidence (Brady material) that might negate or reduce Manning’s degree of guilt or reduce the punishment he might face if found guilty, was covered here extensively on June 22.
The motion highlights how the military prosecutors have been putting Manning’s defense in a position of litigating this case without discovery evidence and lists examples of what has been done to frustrate the defense that include maintaining that Brady did not apply to punishment; using inappropriate standards to obstruct requests for evidence; improperly claiming that military rules for discovery didn’t apply to classified information; disputing the relevance of factually relevant items (such as damage assessments); referring to damage assessments as “alleged” to frustrate the Defense’s access to them; maintaining that it was “unaware” of forensic results and investigative files; resisting production of the Department of State damage assessment; redefining terms like “damage assessments” and “investigations” to justify withholding material and insisting on a threshold of specificity for Brady requests that does not exist or some additional showing of relevance.
The withholding of evidence, the defense concludes, has “impacted Pfc. Manning’s right to a fair trial.” The defense is going to be receiving evidence “one month before trial” from the Office of National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The defense believes it should have “two to three months after all discovery is complete to prepare its case.” Military prosecutors should not be able to “dump discovery on the defense last-minute and expect that there will be a fair battle. But, the “defense believes that this was the intention of the Government – to defeat its adversary by adopting untenablelitigation positions designed to frustrate discovery.”
Military prosecutors have also, according to another defense motion, wholly misrepresented to the defense what ONCIX was doing in response to the leaks. They represented on April 20, 2012, that ONCIX did not have “any forensic results or investigative files.” Prior to that, in March, they responded to a court request for a response to whether an ONCIX damage assessment existed and they stated, “ONCIX has not produced any interim or final damage assessment in this matter.” This was a clear misrepresentation, according to the defense, as ONCIX was just then “finalizing” a damage assessment report. The defense did not know that it was in the process of working on an interim, draft or working version of this report and so it accepted the military prosecutors’ representation.
This should be seen as a clear violation of a court order to “search ONCIX for forensic results and investigative files,” which was issued by Army Col. Denise Lind on March 23 of this year.
And an additional motion made public a day before the hearing shows the defense requests the court “order the government to produce a witness” from ONCIX, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security “who can testify regarding the representations made to the trial counsel concerning any damage assessment/impact statement.” The defense at the previous June hearing caught the prosecution misrepresenting what records the FBI had on its response or investigation into the leaks.
It is not surprising that the defense would call for witnesses to testify. Having State Department witnesses testify on documents the agency might have on the leaks at the previous June hearing seemed incredibly helpful to the defense. It helped the defense get beyond government obstruction and prosecutorial half-truths. The defense is now mostly done with trying to pry information from the State Department, however, it now must struggle to get evidence from: Interagency Committee Review, President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, House of Representatives Oversight Committee, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Central Command, Southern Command, the Department of the Army Headquarters, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), Justice Department, “Government,” Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX) and sixty-three agencies or other organizations the government claims to have contacted with regards to the alleged leaks.
I am not at Fort Meade for this hearing. I am covering this one remotely and will be adding some updates on the proceedings to the top of this post over the next couple hours. There have been some bothersome developments related to the press pool today.
The hearing was called to order at 1 pm EST. It is, as of 4:30 PM EST, not over. There was a brief recess.