Manning defense team. Pic by C. Stoeckley.

1:40 PM EST  Court is in recess until 9:30AM tomorrow morning. Keep an eye on the Dissenter for a further report on today’s proceedings with witness Aboul-Enein.

Today’s document dump to the Army FOIA site included the ruling on the defense’s six objections to Patrick Kennedy’s earlier testrimony. You can read that doc, AE #641, here. And the Freedom of the Press folks have released both of yesterday’s transcripts, which you can find on Firedoglake’s Document Center.

1:25 PM EST  The Judge asked Aboul-Enein if there was anything other than Inspire magazine and the Gadahn video where Al Qaeda had referenced WikiLeaks. Aboul-Enein told the judge that there was nothing else except the fact that Bin Laden had interest in WikiLeaks.

Al Qaeda does give their rationale for their attacks as part of their propaganda, and would say if an attack was motivated by information in US government documents.

The Defense asked the militant Islam expert: “Apart from WikiLeaks, does the American government have a lot of information in open sources?” Defense also added that there are many news reports on the comings and goings of those in federal government.

Aboul-Enein agreed that there’s lot of US government information in open source and that’s “to be expected in a transparent society.”

1:08 PM EST  The government interrupted the defense’s cross-examination of Aboul-Enein and asked to meet with the judge briefly in chambers.

1:05 PM EST  Government witness Youssef H. Aboul-Enein has been qualified as an expert to testify on militant Islamist ideology in Bradley Manning’s sentencing.

The point of having Aboul-Enein testify seemed to be to make the point that Al Qaeda values propaganda and could read WikiLeaks documents. However, the government presented no proof that Al Qaeda had utilized the information in the documents for any attacks.

Aboul-Enein testifies that the spokesperson for Al Qaeda, Adam Gadahn, hasn’t mentioned WikiLeaks in propaganda since a 2011 video.

The defense’s cross-examination brought out that militant Islamists search for facts to support conclusions …Defense asked if Al Queda hadn’t seized on WikiLeaks documents, that they would’ve found something else to push their propaganda. And Aboul-Enein, expert on militant Islamist ideology, agreed that if there hadn’t been any WikiLeaks documents that Al Qaeda would’ve found something else.

Defense objected to most of Aboul-Enein’s testimony during government cross-examination because they deemed it cumulative, speculative, not relevant, etc.

12:10 PM EST We’re about to resume proceedings for the afternoon with the first witness of the day.

9:48 AM EST Court opens briefly. It then goes into recess nearly immediately because, according to military prosecutor, Maj. Ashden Fein, the government no longer intends to call the witness that was scheduled for this morning.

The witness scheduled for this afternoon is now meeting with the defense to prepare for cross-examination that will begin at noon. That means today’s proceedings will be brief today and probably wrap by 2 or 3 pm EST.

There will be no closed session this afternoon. All of the witness’ testimony will be given in open court.

Original Post

Two classified United States government witnesses are scheduled to testify today in Pfc. Bradley Manning’s sentencing. These witnesses could be Major General Kenneth F. McKenzie, staff of the US Marine Corps headquarters, or Rear Admiral Kevin Donegan of Naval Warfare Integration at the Pentagon.

According to a page put together by independent journalist Alexa O’Brien, one of the few journalists who has been diligently attending proceedings at Fort Meade to cover sentencing, Donegan “conducted classification reviews for two PowerPoint (PPT) slides of official reports” from CENTCOM and “their impact on national security due to the release of the information.” The slides were from a presentation on the May 2009 US bombing in the Farah Province of Afghanistan.

Manning was convicted of violating the Espionage Act by releasing investigative reports on a bombing that killed anywhere from 80 to 140 women and children.

McKenzie “served as the Deputy to the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) for Stability, for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan.”

It seems like around fifty percent of the sentencing has been closed to the press public so classified testimony could given by government witnesses. (I am working on getting actual numbers for how long witnesses have been testifying in closed sessions.)

There are few press here today, but the New York Times did decide to send someone today. I do not know that the Times is here because of my particular protest, however, I do know that outrage from the public and editorials by public editor, Margaret Sullivan, appear to be the key factor in their decision to send reporters on days when there are no guarantees that major news will occur in the trial.

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

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

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