No harm in transparency: Wrap-up from the Bradley Manning pretrial hearing

courtroom sketch

Courtroom sketch of Bradley's Article 32 hearing

December 25, 2011. Bradley Manning Support Network

On Friday December 16, the world turned its eyes to a small courtroom in Fort Meade, MD, where Bradley Manning made his first public appearance after 18 months in pretrial confinement.  The pretrial hearing – known as the Article 32 hearing – is normally a quick hearing shortly after one is arrested to determine whether and what kind of court martial is appropriate. Manning’s hearing was unusual, happening 18 months after his arrest and lasting seven days.

The Bradley Manning Support Network organized two public rallies at Fort Meade to coincide with the hearing and there were solidarity rallies across the globe.  We also sent representatives into the courtroom to provide minute by-minute coverage of what happened in the hearing. We believe that justice will not come for Bradley Manning unless the government is held accountable to the court of public opinion, which is why we fought hard to get the public a place in the court.

Major Takeaways

The defense called on the investigating officer to recuse himself due to the possibility of bias (the standard that must be met is not whether the investigating officer is biased but rather whether a reasonable person, knowing all the facts, would conclude that he was likely to be biased).  To recap: the investigating officer works for the Department of Justice (which is investigating WikiLeaks through a secret grand jury) and demonstrated bias by refusing the majority of the defense’s witnesses while granting all of the prosecution’s witnesses. The investigating officer also initially refused a request to close a small portion of the hearing that the defense felt could endanger Manning’s likelihood of receiving a fair trial.  Additionally, the investigating officer decided to allow unsworn statements against the objections of the defense from two key witnesses who reviewed whether information was appropriately classified, demonstrating more bias to the prosecution and perhaps running contrary to military law.

The prosecution is building its case mostly on a wealth of forensic evidence. Multiple computers were seized and examined – from Manning’s personal computer to all of the computers he used at work to two devices belonging to Adrian Lamo.  Forensic examiners testified at length about finding various pieces of evidence similar to what was later published by WikiLeaks on the computers.

The defense is using several different tactics to fight different charges. Some of the major tactics include:

  1. Showing that dysfunctional military leadership failed Manning, providing inadequate training and supervision and failing to address his clear psychological distress.
  2. Showing that there were habits of breaking computer access regulations that were not only tolerated but necessary to complete one’s job and openly encouraged by supervisors.
  3. Demonstrating that there was no harm resultant from the alleged disclosures, and that in fact much of what was published on WikiLeaks was either not classified or should not have been classified.

Additionally, testimony provided showcased that Manning was treated terribly in the military.  From his roommate refusing to speak to him anymore after learning he was gay to being generally abhorred by others in the unit, Manning lived a friendless and difficult life.  Homophobia in the military created a cruel and lonely environment for him. There’s plenty of evidence of him trying to get help, and no response from leadership.

The defense continually sought ways to take this beyond a discussion of forensic analysis and into a discussion of over classification as an epidemic in our military.

Additionally, WikiLeaks sent two lawyers in to the proceedings. They petitioned the court for guaranteed access to the proceedings, arguing this would have deep ramifications of their related case. One of the attorneys had the highest level of secret security clearance. Check out Center for Constitutional Right’s press release and Bradley Manning Support Network’s statement opposing the closed trial.

Bradley ManningWant more about the trial? Here you go:

Read this Nation article describing how the government strategically blocked public and press access to the Manning hearing.  Check out our wrap-up from the solidarity rallies held in Fort Meade and around the world .  See this amazing debate about the hearing and government secrecy on Al Jazeera. And check out this thorough article by Kim Zetter of Wired on Lamo’s testimony.

Want even more of the Manning hearing in your life? Read in-depth, minute-by-minute notes from each of the days below:

Day 1: Defense calls for investigating officer to recuse himself

Day 2: Testimony about the gathering of forensic evidence and the initial forensic analysis

Day 3: Testimony from individuals who served with Manning about emotional outbursts and poor information access enforcement, and the hard core forensic analysis of Manning’s work computer

Day 4: Chat logs with “Julian”, Manning’s homophobic roommate testifies, lots of forensic analysis including network logs

Day 5: Manning’s direct supervisor on mental conditions and attempts to have his security clearance revoked, and Adian Lamo testifies

Day 6: The defenses’ two witnesses

Day 7: The closing arguments

36 thoughts on “No harm in transparency: Wrap-up from the Bradley Manning pretrial hearing


    (1) In the court of public of public opinion shall Manning’s freedom be won or lost, surely I would ridicule, insult, degrade and show total contempt toward such hanging judges. “This kangaroo court is a joke… These hanging judge proceedings are a stench in the nostrils of any man with integrity… Cow manure judge, surely your speaking pure bull… This is justice… Why not just declare the man guilty and spare us your degrading freak sideshow?”

    (2) Hammering home the fact that Manning is gay, this should be neutralized and ridiculed as pure smokescreen to hide military corruption, to draw attention away from the real criminals and focus it on any side issue they can come up with.

    (3) What is the ounce of harm Manning might have done — in comparison to bringing into full force and effect of his ten billion tons of good?

    (4) Did Manning’s lawyer even mention one of the multitude of crimes against humanity committed by the military that was exposed to the light of day by Manning? If not, I would surely quick fire the man.

  2. (5) What does proving Manning’s internal and subjective sanity or insanity have to do with external and objective good actions committed and physical good accomplished? For if everyone had Manning’s frame of mind there would be heaven on earth.

  3. If, I am not mistaken, Bradley Mannings , main Reason & motivation was over the 2007 Video ; displaying the Murders of innocent & unarmed Civilians within a War Zone in Iraq.

    This would clearly show is valid motive for his Legal actions in reporting these War Crimes, that have & continue to occur within the War Zones.

    Furthermore, Doesn’t the Defense have a right, to as many witness’s as they want. Why only two…?

    Your defense Lawyers needed to address the “MURDERS”……

    So Bradley Manning gets “Railroaded” into Prison & the Pilot & Gunner get a “Free Ride”..?

    This so-call Hearing is a “Joke”…!

    Veterans For Peace – Chapter-136 – Member
    We Are Change/Orlando,Fl. Chapter – Head Organizer
    A&E 9/11 Truth – Volunteer
    War Child International Network – Volunteer

    God Bless America

    Long Live The Republic….!

  4. Also , I would like to mention his long & mistreatment while being detained against his will.
    nearly dying or causing un-necessary heath conditions while in solitary confinement.

    So the Army gets a ” Free Ride too…!

    What happen to his rights…?

  5. War on Iraq — A class perspective

    After years of sanctions that were killing too many babies, the rich nobility of America met with the high society of Iraq and called out: “Look, we have no choice, the men of our intelligent middle-class need the blood, guts and glory of war to keep them self-absorbed in temporary pleasure, least they go for permanent happiness and freedom by a Revolution. So, either give our middle-class men the spoils of war they lust for, a return to the dollar standard and privatized oil fields they can buy up and glory in, or all our middle-class pilots, big tank drivers, artillery officers and Navy admirals, they will flow the blood red and make body parts of a million of you, including your babies, even your little babies.”

    Whereupon, the rich nobility of Iraq replied: “And you think our egotistical men of the middle-class are any less rebellious, especially after your years of sanctions have cut back their glory by miserable austerity? Surely not, and though a quick invasion of Iraq looks to you like quick glory, the blood letting and gut spilling of occupation your men of middle-speed minds will have to suffer, you don’t want to even think about it.

    “For all the hard work we have put into keeping our intelligent middle-class men divided and unable to organize, all the religious, ethnic and political warfare we have conceived, this will blow up in your face, and a civil war impossible to manage you will forever have to face.”

  6. It would seem impossible for the Investigating Officer to justify allowing only 2 of the 38 requested witnesses (other than the 10 that also appeared on the prosecution list). The witnesses not allowed were to testify about an assortment of issues including that the leaks didn’t harm national security, that no one was harmed, that no countries refused to deal with our State Department after the cable came out, and that Bradley’s inhumane treatment was ordered by a”higher authority” according to the brig commander to name a few.

    I can hardly see something other than strong bias to account for this. What a sham!


    Iran sovereign territory, the Strait of Hormuz

    12 miles of sea around USA is sovereign territory that no one but USA ships may enter without permission. So, would it not be an act of war if Iran sent a battle ship into this sovereign territory? And so, does not Iran also have that right?

    If USA allowed Iran battle ships to sail through its sovereign territory for hundreds of years, and then decided to blockade this sovereign territory to all foreign ships, would it not be an act of war for Iran to run the blockade by firings its guns and missiles at the US Coast Guard? So, does not Iran have that same equal right?

    For what is an equal right, if it is not equal?

  8. US Navy — Above Congress and a law unto itself

    Criminal nations are planning an illegal monopoly on world markets to bar Iran from selling its crude oil. So, Iran gave fair warning that such criminals would not be allowed to enter its territorial waters in the Iran Strait of Hormuz.

    And so, today the US Navy, not the US Congress, warned that it would declare war against Iran if they refused to let oil tankers, war ships, fighter jets and attack helicopters to violate Iran territorial air space and waters.

    But, what kind of global navy is this, acting totally independent of any Congress or governing body, as to establish absolute power and dominion over any and all nations that oppose its will?

  9. It sounds like the defense is apologisig for the collateral murder release by saying Mr. Manning had psycological and emotional problems for being gay. That is irrelevant. To expose a war crime is not a psychological disorder. It saddens me that that was a defense strategy. I guess his attorney knew they were up a against a stacked deck of a bloated and powerful corrupt war machine where collateral murders are ignored when their coffers are overflowing with profits.

  10. It is not about Justice. Justice does not feature in this trial. It is not about morals or right and wrong. Morals and right and wrong do not feature in this trial.
    Changing the trial procedures demonstrates that. Holding Manning for so long under what has been called tortuous conditions demonstrates that. The vindictiveness of the authorities in this case demonstrates that.
    It is about the exposure of information that the US government considers embarrassing. It is about imposing a suppression on anyone that embarrasses the government. No one can be forgiven for exposing the US government attempt at total control over its own population and the rest of the world.
    Manning will be found guilty, not because he is guilty but because the want to make an example of him.
    That’s why it is not justice in this court room.

  11. If he did what they say he did Bradley Manning is an authentic American Hero.

    The vile US Wehrmacht is dragging itself through the mud persecuting this man while the real criminals, the ones responsible for what… a million Iraqi civilian deaths?.. collect ‘Nobel Peace Prizes’.

    They cannot hide from history. The longer they keep up this outrageous persecution of one of the few people in uniform to whom we Americans can point with pride the more vile and despicable they will appear in the history books of the… very near… future.

  12. This was only a pre-trial hearing. There seems little doubt that the Investigating Officer will rule that there is cause to have a general court martial. The defense team is not obligated to use the same approach and with any luck/fairness they will have enough of their witness list approved so the facts can be made clear for PFC Manning to be considered the patriotic whistleblower that he is. The truth is that he made clear in the chat logs that he wasn’t doing it for personal gain. He did it simply because it was the right thing to do.

    mtyy- The US doesn’t feel compelled to do anything the UN may ask or demand. The government even denied a UN representative to have an unmonitored visit with Bradley.

  13. god bless bradley manning and god bless the support network for persisting in his defense. i keep writing the president —

  14. To his defense team,leave the gay thing out of it!!! That’s not going to do a damn thing except get him convicted faster. No pertinence whatsoever. As a soldier a part of his sworn duty was a requirement to report illegal crimes against humanity and that’s what he did. It’s as simple as that. A hero just as Hugh Thompson was at My Lai, Vietnam when he trained his helicopter machine gun on US Army troops involved in the atrocities of that era. Please look up Hugh Thompson’s legacy. True American hero!!!!!

    • @Eric. Bradley’s defense consults with Bradley and they have a good working relationship. The defense will do whatever he thinks is likely to result in Bradley spending fewer years in prison, and will not make any argument without Bradley’s blessing.

      • @ Emma I totally agree with Eric. Gay or not doesn’t matter. BM deserves Medals not jail time!!! Only stinking Yankees would see his actions as anything but noble. His ‘defense’ should be he has judgement and a conscious, NOT that he cracked up under identity issues!!!

  15. Bradley Manning is the hero of all citizens of the world that wants freedom and justice.
    Obama is more and more coming out as the real bought depraved criminal of the world.A murderer of many and of freedom and justice.

  16. It’s sad that Obama has betrayed all the foreign policy positions that led to his election. Had he done things different he would have maintained the support of enough people for awesome things to have been accomplished. A missed opportunity to be sure.

    By endorsing the pretrial treatment of PFC Manning, by signing the NDAA, by not seeking justice for war crimes, by the drone murders as well as not moving us toward a long term climate solution his true character is exposed. I don’t like what I see. It’s a damn shame.

  17. BTW I HATE the defense. It doesn’t seem to think he did NOTHING wrong! He should get a Medal not a jail cell! As a Canadian, I don’t like the angles that he was under trained, stressed, lonesome gay. Why don’t they go on his Duty to Report Murders!!!??? He was sound of mind enough to the IDIOT Forces wouldn’t proceed. We ALL can see they would only cover. His defense SHOULD be that he is a Human Being, for Christ’s Sake!

  18. The defense is using several different tactics to fight different charges. Some of the major tactics include:
    1.Showing that dysfunctional military leadership failed Manning, providing inadequate training and supervision and failing to address his clear psychological distress.
    2.Showing that there were habits of breaking computer access regulations that were not only tolerated but necessary to complete one’s job and openly encouraged by supervisors.
    3.Demonstrating that there was no harm resultant from the alleged disclosures, and that in fact much of what was published on WikiLeaks was either not classified or should not have been classified.
    <<< Where is the HE DID NOTHING WRONG [tactic]???

  19. The Military is Acting Childish as usual as is there way of trying to justify there Ilegal actions against anyone under there control
    These Military Minds working to atempt to build a case where none exists is in itself an act of imature folishness and Bullying someone they think they can control and in the case of Private manning they have suceeded in doing now for a year and a half . These Imature Military Officers do not want to hear anything they cant manipulate into something simple and childish enough so they can understand….”He did it and we dont care ..Never mind any evedance to the contrary , We Think he did it and thats all we care about”..
    All they realy want is to look prety for the Generals and there superiors ,,Heaven forbid there caught telling a Lie …They already have..The Civilian world is well aware of there acts of Torture and Hiding behind there uniform justice which is non exestant in the real world…Time and History will judge there actions …But sadly the Govt. Will Protect them ..

  20. Please, commenters check your spelling. It is distracting and counterproductive if it looks as though illiterates are voicing their opinions, even if their hearts are in the right place. Thanks

  21. On 2/23/12, Bradley Manning was arraigned at Fort Meade, Maryland- meaning his case will proceed to court martial in June or August and he will be tried on 20 + counts- including leaking classified documents (to wikileaks) , unauthorized use of these documents, theft of same, aiding the enemy and so many others. He could receive a life sentence.
    Of course, one of the items he leaked was a video of an Apache helicopter attack on Iraqis where civilians, including children, and Reuters newspersons were murdered by U.S. gunners (a documentary entitled is now being shown ( see Washington Post article of 2/22 in the Style section entitled ).
    I – David Eberhardt, peacenik and Cde Pink member from Baltimore, Md. was able to address the court at the end of the proceedings and say, “Judge? Isn’t a soldier required by law to report war crimes?” There were many other stretches of silence during the quite boring and routine procedure of arraignment- in which prosecutors, defense, and even Bradley all nod their heads in agreement with the Judge- but, besides wondering if Bradley’s defense really wants loud demonstrations, many other occasions where I could have shouted out this message- but- I was glad not to be hustled out of the courtroom, let alone arrested.
    I chatted with Michael Ratner, down from New York from the Constitutional Law Center and looking after Jul;ian Assange’s (wikileaks director) interests (Michael has much experience as a lawyer defending radical defendants- whether Bradley is one or not). I asked him if he had see the movie about the “White Rose”- the student group executed in Nazi Germany- had he seen the courtroom scene.
    I can’t say this ws too similar- what with the female Judge so unlike Herr what was his name, who screamed out insane Nazi proclamations- but, still….the comparison was unavaoidable.
    The courtroom – with its spiffy US uniformed bailiffs- had an eerie, horrible feel- as if a humonguous train was bearing down on the petite Manning- it had the feel of a gas chamber entrance with all its hypocriseys (too strong)?
    Press was there in abundance- possibly more from the rest of the world than the sleepy US which would rather not be bothered about war crimes. I would say- in the courtroom-20 media and 15 civilian. I do not know if Manning’s relatives were present. I wish I had asked.
    Bradley has not expressed a great deal of political involvement- p;erhaps wise given the sentence he faces.
    But- the whole world is watching. I wish I had said that also.

  22. The, recent, massacre of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, including 12 children asleep in their beds, and the burning of their bodies, by Yankee serial killers, is a direct result of NOT listening to World heroes like BM. Remember Mai Lai? William Calley got 2 1/2 years House Arrest for mascaraing PEOPLE! All the other serial killers involved in the MURDERS and the Cover Up had all charges dropped. America you are a SICK, sick, SICK Empire! Everybody knows it, including REAL americans. The World hates your USA claws and teeth. GO HOME!!!!

  23. Gary:
    I am extremely opposed to the wars America or rather a small number of Americans have imposed on the world (don’t count the illiterate water carriers the war hawks have brainwashed chanting for more war), they don’t have a clue, but I take issue that our nation as a whole is overwhelmingly filled with war mongers. This country has done a lot of good for the rest of the world playing world cop and we have sacrificed too too many of our own people trying to fix other ungrateful nation’s problems. That has got to come to an end and the criminals within our own borders need to be prosecuted and executed in the view of the whole world. I’m afraid that won’t happen because the goodness that America has at it’s heart has been hijacked by corporatist/fascist interests and both political parties are now firmly in their grip.
    I find it funny that I would react to your comment about America so forcefully as I yearly organize and lead a march of veterans in our town’s 4th of July parade to protest America’s illegal wars and atrocities. We march in front of thousands and it is a proud thing we do and it is because it is America that we can do it. I get sick and tired of us having to rebuff and distance ourselves from whatever the latest crime against humanity has been committed by our loose cannon troops and the illegitimate leaders that put them in harm’s way. But I will not denounce the entire nation…not just yet.

    • Eric, this isn’t comedy! [It’s not America, only a few Americans who are warmongering???] what CROCK thinking.
      The Hollywood version of history isn’t the same as the real one, either! For, one, example, you probably believe some yanks captured an nazi sub, found the enigma machine and broke the German code. LOL Sure, their a lot of good people down there, but not enough to change policy. Bradley Manning, for example, is a GREAT American! William Calley was treated like some kind of hero, for massacring children. [Contras, anyone? Pinochet? Weapons of mass destruction?] 1/2 of you have jobs related to making weapons!!! JAW [jobs america war] IS the addiction economy.

      • Oliver North!!!!??? FFS!!! We only know about this cases and incedents that leaked out, that weren’t covered up. Go to Wikipedia and read about Mai lai, how many murderers got away with, well, MURDER!

  24. Bradley Manning is a national hero. What he exposed is just another example of what is actually going on where soldiers are treating this war like it’s a video game and it is getting honest servicemen killed. A fist will only get a fist. This is the 21st century and it is time to stop the madness and it begins with Obama practicing what he is preaching. Free Bradley Manning NOW !

    • Steven, If you are an American, I hope your perspective of Justice can spread, and the other Posters in here! [A nation of sheep will get a Government of wolves] Mark Twain? or somebody said that.
      As a Canadian, I would invite BM over, but never, EVER William Calley, Oliver North, Bush, or Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld. and OTHERS, NOT welcome in Canada! Do you know my kid’s friends in Grade 3, when playing? The bad guys are the Americans. NO LIE!!! The bad guys ARE the Americans. proof? Bradley Manning is proof, in jail for being a Human Being FFS!!!

  25. People alwayse mentoning Suport of the Troops and Bumper stikers telling about Proud Military familys . Well’ It has become in recent times that the Military has become nothing more than a Job , where no other form of employment exists . Most are not proud to serve only thankfull for a JOB . I for one am retired Navy and NEVER enjoyd the Military minded leadership and tried verry hard to not Join in the Military’ism that exists in the Military . I treated my time in the Navy as a Job and retired as soon as posable to get done with it ..I saw those Videos on the news years ago of recruits running around camp Penelton Ca screaming Kill Kill and That is a form of Brain manipulation , Go out and defend and kill the enemy ..I find Suporting this sort and the likes of the Military Leadership verry hard to Suport , i take flying 5000 miles to atack another country with far diferent laws and beliefs To be nothing more than agression on our part . Defending this Country I Think Not . They can better defend us at home by Keeping the Un wanted Out …But that isnt as good as a Job Killing and those Defense Budgets and Missels suport so many more …as long as its a better Job to wage war it will promote SUPORT..That is one Sick reason to Suport anything …Teaching a young man to Kill and then Prosicute him for doing it is something should be taken a look at the leaderships responsability Mabe it is them that should suffer , Politicians siting in there High Throans along with there Generals and Presadents Wishing to Anialiate there enemies and send in more troops to do there killing …It is not a game as they beleive

  26. If you go the link below, you should be able to download an mp3 file with an interview of Jeff Patterson by John Hamilton about the things the Marines did to Bradley Manning in Quantico Marine Stockade. The mp3 file is an hour long. The first 30 minutes are other news items. The second half hour is about Bradley Manning.

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