4:10 PM EST We are in a closed session now. No open session for the rest of the day. Tomorrow court proceedings will begin at 9:30AM.
Right now, PDAS John Feeley continues to testify on the impact of the released cables on relations with Mexico and Ecuador in the closed session.
If relations with the ALBA countries were poor before Bradley Manning released the diplomatic cables, that is good for his sentencing. The defense can argue that the government cannot prove that the cables’ release aggravated relations with countries in Latin America if those relationships were already bad.
4:05 PM EST Feeley testified about the Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América or ALBA, which is the Bolivarian alliance for countries of our America that consists of Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia. They are, according to Feeley, “self-professed socialists in their orientations toward their economies.” They have “state-run economies” which they believe “produce better safety nets.”
He stated they are “hostile to US interests as far as regarding human rights and the freedom of the press. They tend to exhibit tendencies of extreme government centralization under the executive branch.” Diplomatic relations are difficult but “characterized by extreme rhetoric.
4:00 PM EST Feeley described his work in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. It covers Canada down across the Rio Grande into Mexico, the entire Caribbean, Central America and South America. The goal of this department is to advance US interests by “ensuring” the US has “global partners willing to trade with us, willing to work with us to combat transnational organized crime.
The US, he said, tries to “create or help sustain their own democratic progress and build human potential” and sustain activities that “a functioning, helpful prosperous society should be able to do without having cults of personality, without having a need to resort to non-democratic governance.” Obviously, referencing the late President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales or Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.
3:50 PM EST John Feeley, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, is qualified as an expert by the government.
The government asked Feeley to answer if he observed any impact on Latin America as result of release of diplomatic cables. Feeley answered: “I did.” The government asked him not to give any specific details in an open session.
The State Department doesn’t want the public to know specifically what damage or harm it thinks Manning may have done by disclosing the diplomatic cables.
3:02 PM EST After a closed session with Dibble and a long recess, proceedings are about to resume in the Manning trial with the next government witness in an open session.
1:37 pm EST My friends at Citizen Radio, Allison Kilkenny and Jamie Kilstein, highlighted the work I have been doing at the Manning trial and aired this interview.
Much thanks to them, and, if you aren’t listening to Citizen Radio, I recommend you listen to this podcast, which is always entertaining, enlightening and righteously unfiltered.
1:20 PM EST The defense filed a motion for “appropriate relief” because they objected to testimony in yesterday’s proceedings – “chain of events testimony,” “could cause damage testimony,” and “monetary damage and expense of resources testimony.”
The defense argued that the evidence did not meet the requirements of the following military rule [1001(b)4] for pre-sentencing:
The trial counsel may present evidence as to any aggravating circumstances directly relating to or resulting from the offenses of which the accused has been found guilty. Evidence in aggravation includes, but is not limited to, evidence of financial, social, psychological, and medical impact on or cost to any person or entity who was the victim of an offense committed by the accused and evidence of significant adverse impact on the mission, discipline, or efficiency of the command directly and immediately resulting from the accused’s offense. In addition, evidence in aggravation may include evidence that the accused intentionally selected any victim or any property as the object of the offense because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation of any person. Except in capital cases a written or oral deposition taken in accordance with RCM 702 is admissible in aggravation.
You can reference the Manual for Courts Martial here.
12:35 PM EST Defense cross-examination of State Department’s Dibble: Maj. Hurley asked if the US government spends a lot of money on foreign policy. Dibble supposed that was “fair although the State Department’s budget is dwarfed” by the Defense Department’s budget. She was hesitant to say the budget for foreign policy was larger than “other industrialized governments.”
She said we’re “world’s remaining superpower. We are bigger than others.” We ten to have more embassies and consulates than more than other allies. But, she could not say if France or Germany spend more on foreign policy.
As to whether governments deal with US government personnel “out of fear,” Dibble did not agree. She did agree people deal with the US out of respect but not that they would because they have no choice and need to work with the US government.
Countries conduct their foreign policy based on their national interest just as we do, she said. The US conducts “relations in ways we believe enhance and foster our national interest.”
11:45 AM EST Court went into a closed session after sometimes vague and often non-specific testimony about what impact the release of diplomatic cables had on the State Department. Elizabeth Dibble of the State Department was called by the government to talk about Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinians, etc, and, based on her expertise, provide testimony on the impact of Manning’s disclosures. Presumably, that would include any evidence of damage or harm to the US government or US diplomatic relations as a result.
However, isn’t it cowardly of the State Department that they are apparently less willing than the Pentagon to discuss in open court what actually happened as a result of the disclosures? Manning could go to jail for 10 years because of the release of these cables and they do not believe they owe it to him to declassify any actual proof of damage and harm so the public can see what they believe he did to them as a result of his act.
11:30 AM EST Dibble said she would be happy to share details in a closed session when asked about how US intelligence agencies use diplomatic cables but still gave a very generic answer about them being used to create “products.”
11:25 AM EST Elizabeth Dibble of the State Department testified that she was familiar with the release of US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks
“I was in the Bureau of European Affairs when the first tranche of cables or purported cables were released And then I have been serving in Washington since then and was aware there were additional releases that came. This started in Fall 2010 and then I was aware of additional releases through the summer of 2011,” she testified.
She reacted with “horror and disbelief that our diplomatic communications had been released and were available on public websites for the world to see.”
“The role of an embassy overseas is to be the eyes and ears of US on the ground and to report events in a country but not just the facts,” Dibble added. “The backstory, the context to delve behind a policy decision, why a decision was made,” also must be reported.
11:20 AM EST Ms. Elizabeth Dibble, who recently concluded an assignment as the principal deputy assistant of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in the US State Department, was qualified as an expert. The defense agreed to stipulate that she was an expert on “diplomatic priorities and operations in Near Eastern Affairs” so the court did not have to sit through a lengthy cross-examination where she described all of her experience in the field and her academic and professional achievements.
She was also put on the stand to share her opinion on the impact of PFC Manning’s criminal conduct on the State Department as it relates to Near Eastern countries, such as Iran, Lebanon and Libya.
10:55 AM EST Court enters a closed session with career foreign service officer and former principal deputy assistant secretary of Near Eastern Affairs of the State Department, Ms. Elizabeth Dibble, who was called to testify about the impact of the release of diplomatic cables.