UPDATE – 6:05 PM EST More comprehensive report on closing arguments to be posted soon. It will be up late tonight or in the morning tomorrow.
In the meantime, here’s my appearance on “The Matthew Filipowicz Show” yesterday talking about this hearing and some of the highlights over the past ten or so days. I appreciate Matt having me come on to share my reporting and recommend that people listen to his show.
UPDATE – 6:00 PM EST The defense pointed out that Staff Sgt. Terry did not testify during the hearing. He would have been able to confirm what happened on March 3, 2011, when Manning stood at parade rest naked. The guard who was in the observation booth did not testify either.
David Coombs argued the government “took great pains to bring everyone that had involvement” in a January 18, 2011, incident but not every one who witnessed what happened on March 3. Manning was counseled for everything he did wrong, even if it was the littlest thing.
CWO2 Barnes thought the incident was on Manning’s “hard card” (keeping track of any minor infractions, etc). She said it was one time occurrence and they told him to not do it again. But, Coombs argued, this was a soldier standing naked. They claim he chose to do this. Wouldn’t this have been a disciplinary infraction?
The Brig officers could produce no evidence that they disciplined him for this making it more and more likely that he was ordered to stand naked and put down his blankets and did not choose to stand naked so this could be reported and get him attention in the media (which the government argued).
UPDATE – 5:58 PM EST Coombs said he thinks the Brig officer-in-charge does not have the authority to take clothing from a detainee whenever he or she wants to take a detainee’s clothing.
UPDATE – 5:53 PM EST What happened when Manning was moved to Leavenworth in April 2011, Coombs argued, is the “best evidence Manning did not need to be in conditions” that were “onerous” to “ensure his presence” at a trial. He has had no issues while confined at Leavenworth except for an altercation with a detainee in December 2011. He has been allowed recreation call. He has been able to move outside his cell “freely without chains.” He has been allowed personal items in his cell. He has not tried to harm himself.
There at the facility the commanding officers listen to their doctors, Coombs said. The doctors are never overruled. And Manning has been happier and more talkative, according to officers in his Army chain of command who have visited with him to see that he is doing okay.
Closing arguments in Pfc. Bradley Manning’s “unlawful pretrial punishment” hearing will take place today. It will bring to an end argument on a defense motion alleging Manning was mistreated at Quantico Marine Brig that began over ten days ago.
There is no question as to what the defense will put forward in their closing argument. They will argue officers at the brig made a decision to hold Manning in the harshest conditions possible, regardless of his psychological health. They will present details to the judge to support their belief that this treatment was a “flagrant violation” of Manning’s “constitutional rights” and Judge Army Col. Denise Lind should dismiss all charges with prejudice. If she does not wish to dismiss the charges, they will urge her to, at minimum, grant relief in the form of a 10-for-1 sentencing credit for the 258 days PFC Manning inappropriately spent in the equivalent of solitary confinement. (For more, see the defense motion with many of the main arguments that has been public for months now.)
From testimony and questions in court, it appears the government’s argument has been that they erred on the side of extreme caution when handling Manning and it was within their right to keep him in restrictive confinement conditions. The government has also argued that Manning had multiple opportunities to complain about his confinement but did not use them all and was mostly just using his lawyer, David Coombs, to advocate for him after December 2010. He was not using all the avenues the Quantico Brig made available to him as a detainee. Also, Manning was interested in publicity—building his image by using bloggers or reporters in the media—and this took priority over getting out of confinement condition, which he complained about every now and then while he was imprisoned.
There are about ten to twelve people here today. Charlie Savage of the New York Times is here to cover the closing arguments. It seems all the criticism of the Times for not being here has worked.
A good amount of media is here today, more than yesterday. The Washington Post has their reporter here. And then, there are the regulars – Courthouse News, AP, Alexa O’Brien and courtroom sketch artist Clark Stoeckley along with some reporters from the Bradley Manning Support Network, who were credentialed this round.
I am here and will be covering until early this afternoon. About 1:30 pm EST, even if closing arguments are still finishing, I have to get back to Washington, DC, for an interview for “The Listening Post” on Al Jazeera English.
Updates will appear at the top. Follow me @kgosztola for updates during short breaks.