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Bradley Manning’s January Motion Hearing, Day 2

9:35 PM EST Note: All of the evidence mentioned in today’s proceeding that the judge was asked to consider as fact during trial was simply presented and raised by the defense or government. Judge Army Col. Denise Lind made no rulings on whether any of the evidence should be admitted. She will rule on the evidence during the next session, which is scheduled for January 16-17.

9:25 PM EST The government asked the judge to take notice that Julian Assange was in Iceland in June 2010. The government suggested this would provide “context for some of computer forensic evidence including chats between PFC Manning and Julian Assange.”

During trial, the government said it will “offer chat logs between the accused and Julian Assange that date when Assange” was in Iceland.

9:20 PM EST The government asked the judge to take notice of a New York Times article, “Pentagon Sees a Threat from Online Muckrakers,” published March 17, 2010, was on the release of a Pentagon report on the threat posed by WikiLeaks. Spceifically, they wanted the judge to consider this sentence: “Lt. Col. Lee Packnett, an Army spokesman, confirmed that the report was real”—because it provides context for “computer forensic evidence about chats between Assange and Manning.”

The judge asked how this would not be hearsay. Cpt. Joe Morrow, a military prosecutor for the government responded they just wanted the judge to simply note the fact that Lt. Col. Packnett’s quote was in the article. It would establish a timeline and “confirm the authenticity of the chat logs.” Manning discussed the article with Assange and they were “laughing about it,” the government claimed.

5:15 PM EST That concludes this hearing. It was expected to be four days, but business was completed much sooner. I’ll have more from today’s proceedings but Fort Meade needs the press to leave the media center so it can shut down for the day.

5:10 PM EST The defense intends to call Professor Yochai Benkler, who wrote “A Free Irresponsible Press: WikiLeaks and the Battle Over the Soul of the Networked Fourth Estate.” Coombs said he had done research and was an expert, whose work had been peer-reviewed, and his testimony could undercut argument that by giving to WikiLeaks he would have knowledge of providing information to the enemy. Benkler’s work indicated at the time of Manning’s alleged leaks WikiLeaks was understood to be a legitimate news organization and wasn’t considered a terror organization that aided enemies of the United States.

5:05 PM EST  The judge asked if the govt was planning to present any evidence about the nature of WikiLeaks. Is that somehow different from the New York Times? Does the government have a theory it is somehow different? To which the government replied during sentencing it would have a witness testify, who would “characterize” WikiLeaks.

Again the judge asked, “If we substituted New York Times for WikiLeaks, would you still charge Bradley Manning in way that you have?” Without hesitation, the government answered yes.

3:30 PM EST As I previously suggested, how both sides view WikiLeaks is important. It is especially important for the government’s legal argument what is accepted as fact because they are trying to suggest the organization played a role in “aiding the enemy” —and presumably in a way different from how the New York Times could “aid” an enemy.

Coombs was talking about calling witnesses during trial. He wants to call Professor Yochai Benkler to testify WikiLeaks was a legitimate news organization when Manning allegedly leaked the information. The judge interrupted Coombs, “Why is it relevant how WikiLeaks was viewed? What’s the difference between WikiLeaks and the New York Times? Coombs, with a bit of grin, agreed. There’s no difference. The government seems to think there is one.

2:15 PM EST Report on government trying to tie Manning’s alleged leaks to terrorism here.

1:25 PM EST Government: In raid, team found Bin Laden requested “DoD info.” An Al Qaeda member’s response had war logs & State cables attached. Also, Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in  & AQAP are US enemies & AQAP’s violent and ideological Inspire mag did issue on the leaks.

12:20 AM EST The government and defense are arguing over whether certain materials can be accepted as fact during the trial so the judge can consult throughout proceedings.

12:15 AM EST The trial date was pushed back yet again to June 3 of this year. It was postponed because the defense needs to complete interviews with agencies on evidence, which it will submit around February 22. That will then give the government notice of what evidence needs to be prepared for the trial. The slowing turning wheels of bureaucracy in government mean sixty days are needed to complete processing.

11:03 AM EST Courthouse News‘ Adam Klasfeld points to this military case, US v. McCarthy, where a member of the US Navy, Patrick B. McCarthy, was awarded 3-to-1 credit for his three days on suicide watch without medical treatment. Comparatively, Manning was only given 1-to-1 credit.

According to Klasfeld, McCarthy was convicted of sexually abusing his 3-year-old daughter and served eight years minus nine days credit for three suicide watch days.

11:00 AM EST Yet to begin proceedings for the day. Negotiations behind closed doors over “stipulations” have been ongoing for past hour.

Original Post

Maj. Ashden Fein (Sketch by Clark Stoeckley)

The second day of the latest motion hearing in the court martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning begins today. The hearing is likely to wrap this afternoon.

During today’s proceedings, the government will ask Judge Army Col. Denise Lind to take “judicial notice” or accept as fact in the court martial executive orders, statutes and Army training manuals and regulations that could show Manning deserves to be convicted. The government will also put forward “a US government terrorist list” and various news reports of events that have occurred as materials the judge should take note of during the trial.

There will be argument over defense witnesses for Bradley Manning’s trial. A summary of what each witness will be testifying about will be addressed in court so the judge can decide whether each witness would give relevant testimony.

Yesterday, the judge (as expected) decided in her ruling on whether Manning was unlawfully punished at Quantico to not dismiss the charges against Manning. While she concluded Manning had been unlawfully punished, the extent of the punishment was not enough to warrant more than the award of weak relief. She granted him 112 days sentencing credit.

The ruling contained no lesson for the military. It did not conclude that the culture of the military had some effect on how Manning was unlawfully punished. She did not accept that superior officers wielded command influence over the commanding officer of Quantico to keep him in unnecessarily restrictive conditions. Moreover, despite the evidence that Manning should probably never been sent to Quantico and should have perhaps gone to a facility that could provide much more adequate mental health care, she did not decide to hold the military accountable for sending him to Quantico after his rough experience at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.

There was also argument over motions to preclude the defense from discussing motive and over-classification during trial. In regards to the over-classification motion, the government is afraid of the defense putting witnesses on the stand to show the charged documents are not “intelligence” or “national defense information” that could have been used to injure the United States. They do not want government secrecy to be challenged in the process of Manning’s trial so they are moving to limit the ability of Manning’s lawyers to defend him.


Media Coverage

It received a mention on Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier” after 6 pm EST:

A military judge has reduced the potential sentence for the soldier charged with giving classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. Private Bradley Manning will get 112 off any prison time if he’s convicted. The judge ruled some of Manning’s pretrial treatment was illegal. The defense had asked that all charges be dismissed.

“PBS Newshour” mentioned the ruling during their broadcast at 6 pm EST:

A U.S. Army judge ruled today that the soldier in the WikiLeaks case was treated too roughly after his arrest, but the judge refused to dismiss the charges against Private 1st Class Bradley Manning. Instead, she reduced his potential life sentence by 112 days.

Manning was arrested in 2010, accused of leaking thousands of classified documents. For nine months, he lived in a cell with no windows and sometimes with no clothing at a Marine Corps brig. His court-martial begins in March

“Democracy Now!” highlighted it this morning during their broadcast. RT America had at least one segment. Other than that, the critical ruling in the biggest case in US military justice history received little or no coverage on US television news programs.

Manning’s confinement at Quantico stirred great controversy and was when much of the public was exposed to the story of Manning for the first time. State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley was forced out of his position after calling the treatment “counterproductive.” Yet, the judge’s ruling largely defied all the outrage toward the military for mistreating Manning and included nothing that would ensure the unlawful punishment Manning experienced never happened again.

CNN and MSNBC—cable news networks—had no update during any of their evening programs. ABC, CBS, NBC offered no update during their national evening news programs. The ruling was covered by AP, Courthouse News, New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, journalist Alexa O’Brien, Bradley Manning Support Network reporter Nathan Fuller and others who were present during the proceedings, but the news did not reach Americans while they were watching news on television yesterday.

The media just does not find the story as sensational and newsworthy as the similar case of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers. Those who regularly read Internet news websites are likely to find updates on the Manning case but the average American remains unaware of the significance of this case.

For the blog on yesterday’s proceedings, go here.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."