1:30 PM EST Leaving Fort Meade. That is all for now. More updates/insights soon. And the final day of proceedings resumes tomorrow with judge’s rulings and updates to the case calendar, etc.
1:23 PM EST One of the prosecutors, Cpt. Angel Overgaard, suggested the intent behind the act of posting a YouTube video where buzzwords were used that pertain to classified information that soldiers are not supposed to use is “sufficiently similar” to intent behind alleged release of information.
1:20 PM EST The prior acts of misconduct include two instances that were only discussed as Act 2 and Act 3 to protect Manning’s right to fair trial. It also includes a known instance where Manning posted a YouTube video and used buzzwords the military doesn’t want soldiers to use. There was corrective training and he was instructed to make a PowerPoint. In the presentation, he included details on why it was wrong to leak information and the identity of “the enemy,” which the soldiers are to keep information from getting into their possession.
1:15 PM EST The judge denied a request to close proceedings today for discussion of prior misconduct committed by Manning before the alleged offenses, which the government wants to be able to cite during trial to make arguments about the intent or state of mind of Manning when he committed the charged acts.
12:45 PM EST The government moved for army regulations, US legal codes (such as 18 USC 793e) and the Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF) to be admitted into evidence. The defense objected to the AUMF being introduced. The government wants to have this admitted as fact to show the recipient of the information—Al Qaeda—was in fact an enemy. The defense did not think it was relevant.
The defense explained the objection and then, because of how they phrased their argument, led the judge to ask, “Is it the defense’s position that Al Qaeda is not an enemy?” The defense responded that the government has to demonstrate enemy that received information fits into Article 104, which is a charge that requires proof that the recipient of info was an enemy.
A question I have: Why did the government move to admit the AUMF over the State Department’s designation of Al Qaeda as a foreign terrorist organization? This contains the plain fact that would make judicial notice acceptable. The AUMF contains political language that adds to the designation.
All this further suggests is the government believes Manning committed offenses that undermined the ability of the country to advance the “war on terrorism,” which politicizes the court martial and makes prosecution go beyond just the offenses. Other dispositions of the government toward the offenses are grafted on and made a central part of the arguments in the case.
12:37 PM EST The defense moved for judicial notice of information containing to the system that Manning worked on in the secured intelligence facility in FOB Hammer in Iraq. The government objected to the relevancy of this information. The defense explained this material (e.g. manuals, news stories, etc) was relevant because the system did not work without the Internet and soldiers downloaded software to their computer.
12:32 PM EST The defense moved for judicial notice so certain information would be considered fact in the upcoming trial. The defense moved for excerpts of David Finkel’s book, The Good Soldiers, to be admitted. Particularly, the defense wanted portions containing what they said was a “verbatim transcript” of audio/video contained in the “Collateral Murder” video Manning allegedly released to WikiLeaks.
The judge asked if the defense would provide a copy of the book. She sought to confirm that the defense was, in fact, claiming the book contains a word-for-word representation of remarks by soldiers made in the video, etc. She also asked the govt to provide a copy of the video to her so she could examine the book against the video and decide whether to admit the excerpts into the record as “verbatim transcript.”
The defense further explained the reason they wanted to admit this into the court record was because having knowledge or a copy of the content of the video would negate any argument that the information was “closely held.”
12:30 PM EST Court adjourned for the day.
9:50 AM EST Headed to courthouse now for proceedings.
9:47 AM EST Manning seemed to smile, laugh when he heard his username “bradass87″ said in court yesterday. He has been in pretty good spirits lately, laughing and joking with two of his defense lawyers during breaks.
9:30 AM EST As we get going this morning, how about an anecdote from yesterday?
The military briefer for the press is new. He was asked what would happen if the US State Embassy cables came up in court. Would the proceedings be closed? Without hesitation, the briefer said “yes.” He added, “What’s out there and representative may be different than what the government is trying to protect.” This indicates the government’s pretzel logic entails prosecuting Manning for “aiding the enemy” by releasing classified information that WikiLeaks falsified before releasing to media organizations and the public. That raises questions like, how do you prosecute someone for helping “terrorists” if what the government says helped the “terrorists” wasn’t actually what the organization published?
The briefer continued saying the court would not be open for deliberation on 206,000 cables only to be closed for one them. The press and public would figure out the one cable the government wanted to keep secret. (In a way, something like this happened already.)
The Gospel of Secrecy continued to be preached: We must “protect the national security of the United States by keeping our adversaries guessing.” Over-classification, prosecuting whistleblowers and invoking state secrets privilege so those who are victims of “war on terror” abuses are not able to pursue lawsuits—That is all done to make sure the Enemy doesn’t get any edge whatsoever.
The second day of a motion hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, resumes today. There will be deliberation over whether uncharged misconduct Manning committed is relevant to the case or admissible in court. The judge will also hear commonly known facts related to the case, like prior statements from public officials, which the defense and government think should be a part of her understanding of the alleged offenses.
Judge Army Col. Denise Lind heard argument over whether to compel the production of Quantico emails, eighty-four of which were handed over to the defense hours before their motion on “unlawful pretrial punishment” was to be filed for a critical hearing that was scheduled for August 27-31. The defense discovered new details in the emails that led to the hearing being postponed October. In the hearing’s place, a motion hearing (which is happening now) was called to deal with issues pertaining to the notice that these emails existed and so Coombs could compel the government to hand over 1,290 more emails.
The government preempted a motion to compel the production yesterday by handing over 600 emails. There are about 700 more emails the government refuses to hand over. The judge now has to look at all three sets—the 84, the 600 and the 700—and decide whether to order the government to hand over all emails to the defense or not. She has to figure out what is contained in these 700 that the government does not want the defense to see and determine if it is proper for them to be withheld.
I am back at Fort Meade covering the court martial proceedings. There are a handful of people here in the media pool. A group of Bradley Manning supporters were at the visitors’ gate entrance again this morning as I drove onto the military base.
The media pool is not in the media center. There was a conflict with previously scheduled but canceled Guantanamo trial proceedings. Therefore, there will be less updates here than during prior hearings. Updates will appear at the top. Follow @kgosztola for updates during any long breaks or just after any court recesses.
I have been traveling to Fort Meade to cover these proceedings since December 2011, when Manning had his Article 32 hearing. You can view previous coverage of the court martial process and the Article 32 hearing here. I also co-authored a book with The Nation‘s Greg Mitchell on Manning and the court martial up through March of this year. The book is available here.