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.
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.