PFC Bradley Manning

UPDATE – 3:05 PM EST That is all for today. I will be back at Fort Meade tomorrow afternoon and there will be a Day 2 blog on the hearing.

UPDATE – 2:58 PM EST The admission of public officials’ statements in the record is somewhat important to the defense and here’s why: These are statements made by people, who could be considered “party opponents.” Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both made statements downplaying or seeking to calm down fears or anxiety over possible damage. They suggested there really wasn’t any damage. Clinton said something to the effect that the diplomatic cables show US diplomats do good work. So, this puts the government in a position of rebutting these people, who oppose the leak but admit nothing really bad happened.

UPDATE – 2:53 PM EST One of the prosecutors for the government, Cpt. Joe Morrow, has a bias against the revolution in news and media that has occurred in the 21st Century. He continues to differentiate between newspaper articles and Internet news articles, as if there are none or very few outlets that report legitimate news on the web. One of the articles the defense is trying to get admitted into the court record is a posting on CNN.com, which he said is “web Internet news.” He is not up on the death of newspapers in America and how much reporting now is distributed electronically.

UPDATE – 2:50 PM EST Also discussed earlier but raised again today in argument is whether to admit public statements from officials into the record as fact. The government argues against this and made the rather absurd argument that they could not be admitted into the record because the statements do not put forth details on the activities of the agency. (They made this argument in addition to a previously suggested and also ridiculous argument that an official making a statement during a press conference cannot be said to have made an official statement representing that agency’s position because it is not an officially released record.)

The defense rebutted saying this “just doesn’t make sense.” Making statements to the press is a function. When what an agency has done is memorialized, that is a report of activity of by that agency. So, for example, if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says something to the press about the State Department and the WikiLeaks disclosures, she is carrying out a function of the State Department.

UPDATE – 2:20 PM EST David Coombs, Manning’s lead defense attorney, approached the press and thanked them for being present. And, by press, I mean four people (including this journalist). He acknowledged that today’s hearing was like watching paint dry but he is grateful for those who are coming here to do yeoman’s work.

UPDATE – 2:15 PM EST Taking notice of the fact that David Finkel published a book that contained quotes from the “Collateral Murder” video was argued. There was some back and forth between judge and defense over whether Finkel could have just heard audio and not video. It was eventually agreed by defense and government that there is one file with audio and video and, if one had heard the audio of the 2007 Apache helicopter attack, they would have had access to video.

The government argued, “I don’t know if we can leap to conclusion he must have had video in front of him.” Actually, unless Finkel was embedded with soldiers in the helicopter at the time of the attack, we can.

The defense argues this is relevant to the current charged offense of leaking the video. It is because, if a journalist was granted access to it or it leaked prior to Manning’s alleged decision to leak the video to WikiLeaks, it is questionable whether Manning should be prosecuted for the video’s release because the content was already public.

UPDATE – 2:12 PM EST Manning has filled out a plea form. He did not publicly plead guilty or not guilty yet. However, information on how he intends to plead will be disclosed in December and that disclosure will say whether he wants to be judged by a jury of military officers or by just the judge.

UPDATE – 2:10 PM EST To add to list of documents the press would have if there was transparency in the proceedings—The defense and government are preparing a speedy trial chronology that shows the facts of how the case has unfolded. This would be good to have to inform the public when it is finally put together. Wouldn’t it?

UPDATE – 2:05 PM EST The government and defense addressed issues over information that the defense still needs to be given. Particularly, the issue was the need to redact and make substitutions in certain documents. A Homeland Security Department document needed redactions. CIA documents needed to be put into a summary that did not contain certain classified information.

UPDATE – 1:55 PM EST Judge Denise Lind read ruling on Quantico emails into record. She noted the government had argued the remaining six to seven hundred emails of about thirteen hundred did not need to be handed over to the defense because they included material not relevant to the defense. The government said they contain details on plans to respond to protesters, providing mental health professionals, making sure accused had proper uniform, visits and changes to accused’s visitors list, proposed responses to media inquiries and visits of officials who are not related to the accused.

Neither of these arguments were accepted by the judge (apparently) because she ruled all but twelve needed to be handed over. That means the defense now has over 1200 emails it can use for its argument that Manning was unlawfully punished before trial in November.

The judge did not read any statements that would indicate why she did not accept the government’s arguments against handing the emails over to the defense. So, it is impossible to say whether she thinks these areas described in the emails (like planning for protesters, changes to visitors list, etc) will be determined to be irrelevant to whether he was treated inhumanely.

UPDATE – 1:50 PM EST Court is done deliberating for today. The business handled did not include any argument over a witness list for an upcoming speedy trial motion hearing. What was argued involved admitting content from David Finkel’s book, The Good Soldiers, into the court record as fact or public statements from officials. This was argued somewhat in a prior August hearing.

(update below)

The court martial for Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, resumes today with a motion hearing. There will be arguments over witnesses for a hearing on the defense’s “lack of speedy trial” motion, which is scheduled for October 29 through November 2.

The identities of witnesses, which the defense wants to call for the motion, are redacted from the motion itself and currently secret. However, there are a few details on the nature of witnesses that defense and prosecution would like to call for the hearing at the end of October.

The defense would like original classification authorities (OCAs) from each of the following: United States Central Command (CENTCOM); Joint Task Force – Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO); Department of State (DOS); Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI); “Other Government Agency for Specifications 3 and 15 of Charge II”; Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA); and United States Cyber Command (CYBERCOM).

It also requests a witness from “Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA); Department of State (DOS) and Diplomatic Security Services (DSS); Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Department of Homeland Security (DHS); Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX); DIA, DISA, CENTCOM, SOUTHCOM, CYBERCOM; DOJ; Other Government Agency; and each of the previously identified 63 Agencies.”

OCAs are individuals granted the authority “specific to a level of classification” and assess and decide to classify information. An OCA can help make a determination, as to whether the defense has a “need to know” the information that is classified.

An OCA may classify “military plans, weapons systems, or operations; foreign government information; intelligence activities (including covert action), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology; foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources; scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to national securityvernment programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities; vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, infrastructures, projects, plans, or protection services relating to national security and weapons of mass destruction.”

However, the OCAs are not supposed to classify information to “conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error, prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency, restrain competition, prevent or delay the release of information that does not
require protection in the interest of national security.”

Other issues that may arise during the hearing could relate to redactions in an FBI file, conflicts that might arise in court over information that is “above top secret” and the government invoking privileges to withhold information in order to “protect” national security interests.

Additionally, last hearing, it was reported the defense had found out about nearly thirteen hundred emails from officials at the Quantico Marine Brig, where Manning was imprisoned for nine months. The defense pushed for the government to hand over these emails. They were willing to turn over nearly seven hundred. The other six hundred were reviewed by the judge.

The defense reported in its “lack of speedy trial” motion that the court “reviewed the remaining 600 or so emails and determined that all but twelve were material to the preparation of the defense.” The government’s lack of due diligence pushed a hearing on an “unlawful pretrial punishment” defense motion to the end of November.

The media pool is not in the media center because press covering the Guantanamo trial proceedings are there. 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 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 that covers the court martial up through March of this year. The book is available here.