Final day of Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing: In depth notes from the art. 32 courtroom


The Bradley Manning Support Network sent a representative into the courtroom to take notes for the public on what happened at Bradley Manning’s hearing. No recording devices (like cell phones or audio recorders) were allowed, so all these notes are hand-written and as accurate as written notes and memory allow.  Notes were taken by Nathan L. Fuller. Please send corrections to [email protected] (@NathanLfuller)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Concluding Statements from the defense

Proceedings began at 9 AM, with the defense delivering closing statements first. David Coombs opened his statement by addressing the Investigating Officer directly, “You are in a unique position to give the United States a reality check.”

Coombs explained that the IO’s recommendation will have a big impact. He asked the IO to use his recommendation to send a message that PFC Manning has been overcharged. Coombs believes Manning has been overcharged in order to “strong-arm a plea.”

He noted that before the “aiding the enemy” charge, the prison sentence for the rest of Manning’s charges, if convicted, added up to 150 years in prison. But, he said, the prosecution was not satisfied with that, and so they also charged him with “aiding the enemy,” which carries a death sentence, or life in prison without parole.

Then Coombs asked the IO to dismiss the “aiding the enemy” charge, and to dismiss all the Article 92 offenses related to the enforcement of information assurance. He said Manning served in a “lawless unit” with regards to information assurance, and so it isn’t reasonable for Manning to be charged alone.

Coombs requested a consolidation of the remaining charges, whose convictions would carry a total of 30 years in prison, maximum. Thirty years is “big time,” he said, more than sufficient punishment. To give the IO a sense of just how big it was, Coombs recalled that 30 years ago we were supporting Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war. “Thirty years ago,” Coombs said, “my client was not even born.”

He then said that before we consider punishment, we must consider why something happened and what was the result.

He reminded the IO of the evidence he presented showing Manning’s “gender-identity disorder,” which he said is not really a “disorder” at all. It was something Manning was struggling with throughout his time in the military.

Coombs read from a letter of Manning’s to Sgt. Adkins, in which Manning wrote, “This is my problem,” that it was the source of his pain and confusion. He found it difficult to sleep or converse. “It feels like I’m not really here anymore,” he wrote. Coombs also read from a single journal entry, which read, “I may have gender identity issues.” He’d thought joining the military would get rid of it.

Coombs said Manning had downloaded articles on transgender issues. He created a “virtual identity,” Breanna Manning. Coombs, reminding the IO of the military’s responsibility to deal with the issue Manning brought up, said he “struggled in isolation, but not in silence.”

He called Sgt. Adkins the most responsible, who refused to testify. He noted Adkins had written three separate memorandums on Manning. The first said Manning’s “instability seems heightened,” and that he needed intense psychological therapy and medication. “[He] wrote that memo, and yet did nothing,” Coombs said.

The second memo observed that “events reemerged” and intensified, that Manning created internal pressure that he can’t discuss. “Wrote that memo, and yet did nothing,” Coombs intoned again.

In the third memo, Adkins said Manning was clearly agitated, clearly in pain. He’d come upon Manning alone in a room, with his knees tucked into his chin. A knife lay beside him. Manning had etched into a chair nearby, “I want.” According to Adkins, Manning said he wasn’t there, he wasn’t a person, he had no personality. He said the person speaking to Adkins was independent of the person inside. “Wrote that memo, and yet did nothing,” Coombs repeated. He summarized Adkins’ behavior again: he wrote three memos, gave unsworn statements, but took no action.

Then Coombs pivoted to the information released. He said all of this information is out in the public, and yet it hasn’t caused any harm. “If anything, it’s helped,” he said. Coombs said the government has given a “chicken little response,” a response the media has picked up on. He noted that Hillary Clinton gave a “chicken little response” just last week. He said officials were saying the “sky is falling, the sky is falling” over and over.

But, he said, “the sky has not fallen, is not falling, and will not fall.”

Coombs said Manning was young and idealistic. He’s in his early 20s and he wanted to change the world. When your in your early 20s, Coombs said, you believe you can make a difference, you believe a politician who says “Yes we can.” “And that’s a good thing,” Coombs said.

That Bradley Manning needs to pay, Coombs said, is an overreaction. This response strips the military of any credibility, he declared. Again addressing the IO directly, he said, “Let’s give the government a reality check.” Let’s tell them, he said, that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”


Concluding statements from the prosecution

Then Ashden Fein stood to deliver the prosecution’s closing statements.

Fein began by saying that PFC Manning was a “trained and trusted” US Army intelligence analyst, and that “he used that training to defy our trust.” He said Manning downloaded more than 700,000 documents over SIPRnet, using WikiLeaks’ “most wanted list” as a guide.

Fein said Manning knew that enemies of the United States were using the Internet, and that they could access WikiLeaks.

Fein said there was “overwhelming evidence” proving Manning’s culpability, including a thorough investigation, testimony, and “minute by minute” accounts of how he “harvested” this information. There were also chats with Julian Assange. All of these, Fein said, were tied to PFC Manning.

He then laid out his coming statement, as he’d review each section of information that Manning allegedly released, and each of the related charges. Then he focused on Manning’s background. He said Manning was “trained to evaluate threats against the United States,” their tactics and their procedures. He said Manning signed seven nondisclosure agreements. He put one such document on the TV screen, which Manning had signed, and which warned that a disclosure would result in his punishment.

Fein reviewed Manning’s classes on InfoSec and OpSec, saying Manning learned how disclosures could “reasonably be expected to cause damage to the United States.” He noted Manning had given a PowerPoint presentation on OpSec (which had been recovered on an external hard drive), on June 13, 2008, and he presented it on the screen. It outlined the information that must be protected, with slides titled “Dates and Times,” “Official Information,” and “Adversaries.” Fein said Manning researched common sources of information leaking, including the Internet. He said Manning had especially noted that information must not be leaked online, because many “adversaries” would then have access. Shortly thereafter, Fein said, Manning was deployed to Iraq.

He said Manning’s three main charges spanned 6 months, but each occurred at different times and with different methods. Then he outlined what he called the key forensic evidence.

First he noted the Intel Link search logs, which give “minute by minute” accounts of his searches. According to Fein, Manning searched for “retention of interrogation videos” despite being a Shia analyst in Iraq. He said Manning searched for “WikiLeaks” 122 times, “Assange” 19 times, and “Iceland” and “other related terms” also. Second, he discussed online chats said to be with Julian Assange, in which leaked material was discussed. He noted the alleged chats with Adrian Lamo, which were published in WIRED magazine, and said that chats from Lamo’s computer and Manning’s matched. Third was the CD said to be found on Manning’s computer. He said when CDs are burned, the year, month, and day, along with the hour and minute marking the time of the burn, are printed on the CD. Fein recalled that Johnson had put the CD into a computer to recover information from Manning’s computer. Finally, he described “Centaur” as a data collection program, which collects information transmitted across the Internet. Fein said the prosecution used this program to collect information from Manning’s computer, particularly regarding the State Department cables.

Fein went on to address the Apache video, which he said depicted an air weapons team “providing air support.” He said that on February 14, 2009, Manning searched for that video. He said just a day later, the video was transferred onto a CD marked with a “Secret” sticker. During the time between the “compromise” of the video and WikiLeaks’ disclosure of it, Manning was said to have searched the Internet for it several times. After it was released, Fein said Manning searched for information on the video “hourly.” Fein said Manning admitted to Lamo that he’d leaked the video. Fein then noted that the video was not classified, but said that at the time Manning thought it was classified, due to the “Secret” sticker with which he labeled the CD.

Next he discussed the ‘’ folder found on Manning’s computer, which he said including classified reports that Manning transmitted to WikiLeaks. He moved on quickly to the CDNE Iraq and Afghanistan logs. He said these logs were only available on the SIPRnet network. Fein said Manning knew these logs contained unit names, reaction techniques, and Medevac procedures.

Then he outlined Special Agent Shaver’s testimony. Shaver examined the SD card containing these logs, and said the card included Manning’s instructions to WikiLeaks to “sit on” this material. Fein then noted that the SD card included a photo of smiling, saluting PFC Manning. He concluded that we can easily see these documents were properly classified at the time, and that they still are now.

Fein went on to the JTF GTMO files, containing detainee assessments. These also, he said, are only available on the SIPRnet network, and were marked as classified. On December 8, 2009, he said, Manning accessed these files. He tried to download them all, but couldn’t complete the process. The very next day, Manning began using wget, the online chatting program similar to AOL Instant Messenger. He said on March 8, 2010, Manning burned a zip file with the GTMO docs to a CD and immediately transferred it to his personal computer to send to Assange. According to Fein, Manning told Assange, “I’m throwing anything I’ve got on JTFGTMO at you,” to which Assange allegedly replied, “OK, great.”

He then reviewed the transmission of the Granai air strike video, depicting the Farah incident. Fein recalled that the computer’s index.back folder shows when these files (the video and accompanying documents) were downloaded and compressed to a ‘’ folder. He again said Manning admitted this transmission to Adran Lamo, and that WikiLeaks had tweeted their possession of the files.

All of these files, Fein said, revealed tactical information, Medevac procedures, and intelligence methods. All were properly classified, and still are now, Fein repeated.

On to the State Department cables, Fein said Manning had begun to spend “all of his time” helping WikiLeaks. He said Manning was able to “accomplish his goal” of harvesting as much information as possible.

Fein reviewed a worksheet Manning created with three sections, one called wget, another marked ‘0310-0410,’ and a third marked ‘0510,’ harvesting cables between March and May of 2010. As Agent Shaver said, WikiLeaks didn’t release cables during that period.

The worksheet’s first number, Fein said, was 251,288 – an important number because WikiLeaks released 251,287 documents. So Fein said this marked the first cable not leaked, which he says means Manning intended to “continue harvesting” and had these cables “ready to go.” Fein said Manning’s computer made more than 700,000 connections with the SIPRnet database, which he repeatedly explained as Manning’s “methodical, “systematic” process of charting these cables. Fein repeated his mantra from before: all of these were classified then, and still are now.

Fein moved to the single Reykjavik 13 cable, which Manning sent to WikiLeaks. Shortly thereafter, Manning searched Intel Link for ‘Iceland’ (when Fein said he should have been searching for Iraqi election and Shia information) and had set an Icelandic portal as his homepage. “Why this cable?” Fein asked aloud. Because Iceland was the “homebase” for Assange, he answered. On December 1, 2009, Manning searched Intel Link for ‘WikiLeaks,’ the same day he’s said to access the Reykjavik 13 document. “Knowing foreign enemies will have access to WikiLeaks and exploit that information,” Fein said, Manning then transferred the document to WIkiLeaks on February 15. He said Manning searched for the New York Times article confirming the authenticity of that report. He said he knew WikiLeaks would publish, and he knew foreign adversaries “including Al Qaeda” would exploit that information.

Then he mentioned the global address book Manning is said to have released, citing WikiLeaks’ tweet specifically requesting a “list of as many .mil addresses as possible.” Fein said Manning tasked himself with acquiring the addresses, knowing they “belonged to the United States.” Fein said Manning was also charged with “attempting to bypass security,” because he tried to leak the information without being detected.

In conclusion, Fein emphasized the “aiding the enemy” charge. He said Manning “indiscriminately harvested” information knowing it’d be accessed by enemies including “Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and ‘classified’ enemies.” Then Fein played a video ostensibly of Muslims in the Middle East praising WikiLeaks and the easy access it provided. One speaker said he was thankful this information was available online and that anyone “actively fighting for God” has these resources available on the Internet. He mentioned an Inspired magazine article urging Western followers to “harvest this information.” Fein again mentioned a “classified enemy,” who he says is known to have accessed the Afghanistan war logs.

Finally, Fein said Manning “knowingly gave information to the enemy,” and disregarded his oath. He said he gave our enemies “unfettered access” to and multiple enemies are known to have accessed it. He repeated his opening line that Manning used his training to defy the military’s trust. His last sentence was to recommend a full military court martial.

The IO wrapped up quickly: he addressed PFC Manning directly to remind that his recommendation is nonbinding. And with that, the hearing was complete.




17 thoughts on “Final day of Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing: In depth notes from the art. 32 courtroom

  1. Well whats the verdict from all this? Have they came up with one, is he getting Life in prison, death, or is he going to be a free man. Please lord out of all possibilities, let’s hope it’s not the death penalty sentence. Bradley you are in my prayers daily.

  2. “The very next day, Manning began using wget, the online chatting program similar to AOL Instant Messenger.”

    wget is a program to download files, not a chat program.

  3. nathan:
    check me out with zack if you will. or google. i am a retired ap foreign correspondent on a disability for ptsd. i write for therapy. i have covered some war crime u.s. military trials as well as a host of civilian trials. a case involving me went before the scotus. i read your reports thoroughly. well done. i think the prosecution got away with bs on the apache strike. who were they providing air support to. i think the u.s. soldiers involved came to them. but my main question is why is there no mention of the failure to meet his constitutional right to a speedy trial. or is this not the time. although the court has refused to set a general time it is mostly six months in civilian courts, unless the defendant asks for delays. scotus has said a delay of more than a year, as occurred here, is presumptively prejudicial. thanks and regards, RW, Denver

  4. the only “enemy” is the united states. iraq was never the enemy. millions of iraqi’s lost their lives and livelihoods because the american congress declared holy war on the muslims and/or arabs.
    bradley manning is nothing more than a conscientious objector.

  5. We love you Bradley.
    What you did for love of country and your fellow man will not be forgotten.
    We will keep fighting for your freedom.

  6. Letter to Bradley Manning Support Network
    Thank you for providing such a complete report on the final statements of the attorneys at the close of Manning’s hearing on 12/21/1011. I’ve waited to read the Support Network account because I had questions about the accuracy of at least one matter in NYTimes reporter Ginger Thomas’ account of Coombs’ statement.
    As a retired law professor, and briefly a practictioner of criminal law, what I see, among other poinnts, from Attorney Coombs’ statement in your report is a cogent argument for dropping the heaviest charges against Manning, such as “aiding the enemy”; that is, an argument against overcharging, in light of facts such as the lack of any demonstration of harm caused by the publication of the cables. A component of that argument against overcharging is that even the lesser charges would carry a maximum sentence of thirty years – [were Manning to be convicted at trial is of course implied, this being a preliminary hearing].
    Here is what appears in Thomas’ NYT article “Private Manning could also be sentenced to life in prison, but Mr. Coombs suggested that a more appropriate punishment would not exceed 30 years in prison. . .” sounding almost like a plea bargain, for a maximum sentence no less.
    I’ve read your account, Kevin Gosztola’s at FDL, and Ed Pilkington’s account in the Guardian. None of them make the mistake found in the NY Times.
    The “paper of record” should correct this misrepresentation.I shall try to get this off into a letter to the Times.
    I would have liked to have been there, and the reporting from the Support Network was very very welcome. May 2012 be a very good year for Bradley Manning and his Support Network!
    Ellen Mosen James, Retired Assoc. Prof. of Law, CUNY Law School.

    Hearing in Soldier’s WikiLeaks Case Ends
    Published: December 22, 2011

  7. tl;dr defense asks for sense and transparency; army cap’n Fein gives evidence that Manning allegedly leaked information

    -defense asking for 30yr sentence
    -Manning suffering from serious psychological discomfort; gov’t did nothing

    I fully support Bradley Manning, and I wish the best for his family and followers. Freedom! Liberty! Peace!

  8. You are not forgotten — your fortitude, conscience, methodology in getting out the truth regarding government activities and atrocities is commended. Keep up the exercising; keep up your spirits.

  9. The defense presents a fellow human in distress and suffering. The System states a pawn showing behaviour that is a risk to the system. Both are right within their own framework. Their are no signs that the powers that be will change their views. History says they are not able to. Unless the people show enough power to force them…

  10. if the us werent so disgusting corrupt in the first place people wouldnt HAVE to leak information proving their murdering atrocities to the world…Bradley is a hero and has created great change for the world. the US government deserve every single leak they get. if ur so bothered about the enemy then you shouldnt be picking a fight to steal oil and making enemies in the first place.

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