Bradley Manning’s ‘Unlawful Pretrial Punishment’ Hearing, Day 1
UPDATE – 12:40 AM EST Full report on the day’s testimony from retired Col. Daniel Choike, former Quantico Brig commander here.
UPDATE – 6:10 PM EST Still going. Trying to provide updates between breaks. Defense cross-examination of Choike just wrapped. Now, the government will cross-examine.
Going on “The Young Turks” on Current TV in a moment. Live from Meade.
UPDATE – 6:05 PM EST One Quantico Brig officer (female) sent email where he joked about the removal of Manning’s underwear after comments he made on March 2, 2011. Here’s a version the press pool currently believes we heard read in court:
“As Dr. Seuss would say I can wear them in a box, I can wear them with a fox, I can wear them with socks. I can wear them in the day so I say. I can’t wear them at night. My comments gave the staff a fright.”
It is Green Eggs & Ham.
Coombs asked Choike if he believed joking about the underwear was something that an officer should have done. Choike then said something to the effect that he realized this could be brought up by Manning with his attorney and it might become “another media issue.”
Lt. Gen. Flynn was upset that he read about Manning standing outside his cell naked in the New York Times. “It would be good to have leadership have heads up on these things before they’re read in the early bird!” Lt. Col Flynn wrote in an email. The “early bird” is a military synopsis of various news stories/press releases.
UPDATE – 4:50 PM EST Quantico base commander Daniel Choike began testimony.
Going through emails, it came out that Lt. Gen. George Flynn, superior officer, was concerned with media and not Bradley Manning’s conditions. For example, when David House and Firedoglake editor-in-chief Jane Hamsher were harassed at the gate of Quantico, Flynn was in on this incident. He was up on what the public affairs planned to say to any questions from media on the incident. But, he was not up on weekly updates coming from officers in the brig.
UPDATE – 2:40 PM EST Basically, it is impermissible in the military to try to speed up a trial by offering a guilty plea and at the same time argue the government is not giving you a speedy trial.
A military rule establishes there is a 120-day speedy trial clock (unlike the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and the constitution, which merely establishes government must be diligent).
Judge is permitting a defense maneuver or, another way of looking at it: She is not choosing to further complicate proceedings. She will let argument on the speedy trial motion be completed and then, if she is going to accept Manning’s plea, she will formally accept it in court.
UPDATE – 2:35 PM EST IF THE JUDGE ACCEPTS MANNING’S PLEA: Judge will make providence inquiry to make sure accused is voluntarily making the plea, that he understands the binding nature and that he is culpable. The judge will question the accuse to make sure they’ve satisfied all the requirements to substantiate a violation of the law. At that time, the judge can accept the plea and he is then guilty of those charges.
Next step: The government has the option of going forward with the higher charges. Manning is pleading to lesser included offenses. It can present more evidence to show he is guilty of higher charges or specifications.
UPDATE – 2:25 PM EST Recess until 3:00 PM EST. Then, first witness.
UPDATE – 2:20 PM EST The government has filed a motion to “exclude motive evidence.” (No further details at the moment.)
UPDATE – 2:13 PM EST The trial calendar remains unchanged. Judge also suggested this hearing could go past Sunday if all business scheduled to be addressed is not litigated.
UPDATE – 2:10 PM EST Judge Denise Lind noted a plea of guilty waives speedy trial rights for the charges of which he pleads guilty. So, Lind said the court will finish litigation on the defense’s speedy trial motion during the December 10-14 hearing. If the judge is going to accept the plea, she will accept it after argument on that motion.
UPDATE – 2:07 PM EST The defense and government differ on maximum punishment for each of the charges. That will be settled during this session.
UPDATE – 2:05 PM EST Issues related to the plea with exceptions and substitutions will be litigated during this hearing. The defense and government need to deliberate over whether the proposed pleas are lesser included offenses (charges that could be considered a subset of the charges or specifications against Manning).They have to argue over whether the plea is “irregular” or whether it requires the court martial convening authority to concur.
UPDATE – 1:55 PM EST Last hearing, one might remember Manning offered a plea with exceptions and substitutions that indicated he would accept responsibility for transferring some of the information to WikiLeaks.
This afternoon the US govt formally announced in court it would not accept Manning’s “conditional plea.”
UPDATE – 1:10 PM EST Court is expected to begin at any moment. Again, two military commanders (one from Quantico) expected to take the stand this afternoon.
The court martial for Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, resumes today. The hearing will focus on what is called an Article 13 motion or an “unlawful pretrial punishment” motion.
The defense’s motion, which is 110 pages, was posted to the defense’s website in August. I published a full report on the motion that highlighted key aspects: a three-star general told Brig psychiatrists officers would whatever they wanted to do with Manning, regardless of recommendations; Brig psychiatrists issued recommendations that Manning be downgraded from Prevention of Injury (POI) for eight months; Manning was constantly monitored and subjected to cruel confinement conditions that even high-ranking officials like former State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley recognized and the officers, in some instances, outright agitated him then used his reaction to justify keeping him in conditions that amounted to solitary confinement.
At least two military commanders are expected to testify today. One of them is from Quantico. They are the witnesses scheduled and after their testimony concludes the hearing will wrap for the day.
Tomorrow, military psychiatrists will take the stand. Following those defense witnesses, Manning is expected to take the stand, according to the Bradley Manning Support Network (though the military legal matter expert told the press before today’s proceedings began that he was not scheduled to give testimony at the moment).
I put up a primer ahead of the proceedings today that can be read here. As I detailed, Manning was downgraded from Suicide Risk and put on POI status just after being transferred from Kuwait in August 2010. POI status is “assigned” to “prisoners who have given an indication that they intend or are contemplating harming themselves.” He was also designated a “maximum custody” (MAX) detainee. The two combined to create the conditions, which are central to the defense’s allegations that Manning was unlawfully punished.
As described in the defense motion, Manning was observed during most of August by Brig staff and “received regular treatment from the Brig psychiatrists.” The staff noted Manning was “adjusting well to confinement.” He had “presented no problems and has been courteous and respectful to staff,” they wrote. (Follow the link above more background.)
For the first time in months, one has to have more than two hands to count media present. This is getting a lot of attention because of the anticipated testimony Manning is supposedly going to be giving on his confinement at Quantico later in the week.
I am here covering the proceedings. Check here and at the top of the post for updates throughout the afternoon/early evening. Also, follow @kgosztola for the latest developments in the court martial.