Bradley Manning’s Speedy Trial Motion Hearing (Day 1)
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.