UPDATE – 10:50 PM EST The defense asked Haggett about suspense dates—dates when an agency had to complete a review of classified information and get the information to the defense for the case. Haggett suggested it was not typical for such dates to be included. They could be included but they were not typically.

Also, what came out of Haggett were some tidbits on how prosecutors would reach out to legal counsels of these agencies to discuss what the defense was requesting so they could coordinate and prepare.

UPDATE – 10:45 PM EST Judge Army Col. Denise Lind questioned Haggett more than any other witness that has taken the stand in the court martial so far. She had at least twenty minutes on the process of classification reviews of discovery evidence for the defense.

Haggett was asked about the case being the most voluminous with the most original classification authorities contacted. She wanted him to compare to the most complex case he ever handled. Haggett had handled FOIA litigation cases and he said there was a case that went on for about a year and a half at one point. The material was “very highly classified” and “had to be dealt with by a number of agencies.” The volume of information was nowhere near Manning’s case.

“The difference in this case is the sheer volume of the data and it is fairly broad spectrum of data,” he said. It is operational data, intelligence data, etc. “The bulk of it was what always impressed me,” he added, “To try to make sure it was done properly was a little intimidating.”

UPDATE – 10:26 PM EST Classified review expert, Bert Haggett, who the government had testify today, told the judge in an answer to a question, “I think by and large my most greatest experience was working on trial of General [Manuel] Noriega some years ago.” He worked on transcripts. “Once they had been reviewed to determine if they did include classified data, we would look through and try to develop unclassified substitutions that would communicate” what had been said.

UPDATE – 10:24 PM EST I went on RT’s “Breaking the Set” with Abby Martin to talk about the latest in the case. Here’s the segment.

UPDATE – 10:20 PM EST Haggett said classified review process has been more complicated than other cases he has worked “because of the volume of information that had to be dealt with.” Also, “some of the information was multi-page multi-subject multi-OCA that clearly takes extra time as opposed to a one-page document.” The volume makes a difference because it requires extra staff, he said.

UPDATE – 10:08 PM EST Bert Haggett is a classified review expert, who helped route classified information to original classification authorities in agencies so the information could be reviewed and then readied for handing over to the defense. The OCAs had to review the information to see if the information was still classified. If it was, the information would have to go through a process of redaction or substitution.

Critical to the hearing today was how long it takes to review classified information so it can be used in a case. Haggett said, “For a classified document to have many sources, it would seem that would have to be passed forward until all the OCAs had reviewed it.” There is no normal or average time required for completion. It depends on the information and how complex it is, how many OCAs are involved, the availability of staff at agencies to review the information, etc. There also, according to Haggett, are no “dedicated individuals” in agencies of government for classification reviews for cases. So, these people responding to the defense’s request for information are having existing staff take care of it.

UPDATE – 10:05 PM EST According to Coombs, Manning has chosen to be tried by a military judge alone.

UPDATE – 10:03 PM EST A posting by Manning’s defense lawyer, David Coombs, further clarifies and affirms much of how I interpreted the announcement of Manning’s plea in court today. Coombs states on his court martial defense blog:

PFC Manning has offered to plead guilty to various offenses through a process known as “pleading by exceptions and substitutions.”  To clarify, PFC Manning is not pleading guilty to the specifications as charged by the Government.  Rather, PFC Manning is attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses.  The Court will consider whether this is a permissible plea.

PFC Manning is not submitting a plea as part of an agreement or deal with the Government.  Further, the Government does not need to agree to PFC Manning’s plea; the Court simply has to determine that the plea is legally permissible.  If the Court allows PFC Manning to plead guilty by exceptions and substitutions, the Government may still elect to prove up the charged offenses.  Pleading by exceptions and substitutions, in other words, does not change the offenses with which PFC Manning has been charged and for which he is scheduled to stand trial.

UPDATE – 10:00 PM EST Court ended late in the afternoon today. I had to leave Fort Meade to make a media appearance on “Breaking the Set” w/ Abby Martin on RT. I’ll share that clip in a separate post.

UPDATE – 1:35 PM EST Bert Haggett is now about to testify.

UPDATE – 1:28 PM EST Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, investigating officer for the Article 32 hearing, testified telephonically from Falls Church, Virginia. At issue were times of excludable delay around Christmas, New Year’s Day and a weekend in January 2011. The defense had Almanza state that he not intended to request that any of this time be excluded. The government had him submit it for delay. The time frames excluded were not shared with the defense prior to the approved exclusion. The defense suggested it did not have a distinct opportunity to challenge the exclusion.

Additionally, the days excluded at the end of December were days where he was working at the Department of Justice. His employer knew he was involved in this case, but Almanza still reported to work. In January, during a weekend, he took his son to a swim meet and did not work. These days were excluded.

UPDATE – 1:25 PM EST Full update on Bradley Manning’s notice of plea, where he essentially indicates he would accept as fact that he did provide charged information to WikiLeaks.

Original Post

Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, is back in military court today at Fort Meade for a motion hearing on whether his speedy trial rights have been violated. Witnesses will be testifying on delays that were approved for exclusion from the speedy trial clock that theoretically ticks to ensure individuals like Manning do not remain in pre-trial confinement for too long.

The defense’s 117-page motion argues, “A military accused’s right to speedy trial is fundamental. The government’s processing of this case makes an absolute mockery of that fundamental right.” The “accused must be arraigned within 120 days of the imposition of restraint” (confinement). Thought this has been complied with technically, that is because the Court Martial Convening Authority, Carl R. Coffman, “abandoned any attempt to make an independent determination of the reasonableness of any government delay request”:

…Instead, the Convening Authority operated as a mere rubber stamp by granting all delay requests, which totaled 327 days, without being provided with or itself providing any reasons that justified the excluded delay as reasonable… [emphasis added]

Under military rules, the defense asserts the delay of an Article 32 hearing, which was eventually held in December 2011, and its “inexcusable failure to understand its basic discovery obligations have completely flouted” reasonable diligence standards. “If Pfc. Manning’s right to speedy trial is indeed fundamental,” the motion further suggests, “There can be no doubt that the government’s tremendous lack of diligence in the processing of this case violated that fundamental right.”

Obviously, the government will argue all the excludable delays were reasonable and, particularly, they will have witnesses testify to what it takes to turn over classified information and essentially claim that is a bureaucratic process that takes time. The more information the defense wants handed over, the more delays there will be.

Here are some of the witnesses expected to testify, which were approved during a previous hearing in October:

  • Mr. Bert Haggett – The government would like to call him as an expert on classification review and how long it takes to clear documents requested by defense for discovery evidence. He apparently worked on a classification review of the unclassified portion of the Army CID investigation into Manning.
  • Col. Carl Coffman – The defense and government agree he should be called. He has signed all the delays in the court martial process and his testimony is key to any outcome in the speedy trial motion hearing.
  • Lt. Col. Paul Almanza  - The investigative officer (IO) who presided over Manning’s Article 32 hearing in December of last year will be testifying on decisions he made.

A bit of insight into Judge Denise Lind—She said in March she was concerned with fact that Manning has been in confinement since May 2010, but “the defense cannot request a speedy trial and then also make voluminous filings.”

This hearing will be the government’s argument that it hasn’t violated Manning’s rights. The next hearing will be the defense’s argument.

Haggett is testifying first at 11 am.

There are only two members of the media in the credentialed pool today—Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News and I.

More updates during lunch break