Supervisor’s failure to help Bradley Manning; more unit witnesses: trial report, day 33
By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. August 13, 2013.
Former Master Sergeant Paul David Adkins testified for the longest stretch of this morning’s sentencing hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning, attempting to justify his deficient response to several incidents that should’ve warranted further attention.
Manning sent Adkins an email titled “My Problem,” with an attached photo of Manning dressed in a wig and makeup. It began,
This is my problem. I’ve had signs of it for a very long time. It’s caused problems within my family. I thought a career in the military would get rid of it. It’s not something I seek out for attention, and I’ve been trying very, very hard to get rid of it by placing myself in situations where it would be impossible. But, it’s not going away; it’s haunting me more and more as I get older. Now, the consequences of it are dire, at a time when it’s causing me great pain it itself.
Adkins referenced the email to mental health professionals but didn’t explain its contents, and he didn’t take the matter to his commander.
In a December 2009 counseling session with Sgt. Daniel Padgett, Manning flipped over a desk, sending government computers crashing to the floor. Chief Warrant Officer Joshua Ehersman testified this morning that Manning then gestured toward the weapon rack, so Ehersman restrained him in a Full Nelson hold. Adkins was informed of the matter but again didn’t tell his company commander.
In perhaps the most troubling incident, Adkins came upon Manning curled up in a ball on the floor of a supply room, with a knife beside him on the floor. He had carved the words “I want” onto the chair next to him. Adkins said he calmed Manning down but didn’t take him to see anyone.
“Why wouldn’t you take him to mental health immediately?” asked defense lawyer David Coombs. Adkins couldn’t explain.
Instead of taking him to a doctor, Adkins simply sent him back to work, as “there was stuff to do.” Clearly not “calm,” Manning punched Specialist Jihrleah Showman later in that work shift.
Adkins was reprimanded and ultimately reduced in rank for his failures to respond to these incidents. CW2 Kyle Balonek, who expected to be supervising intelligence analysts, testified this morning that Adkins “circumvented” him when handling soldiers’ issues.
Coombs had Adkins, who still appears to be suffering from ‘memory loss’ that none of his former colleagues could confirm, reread his own statements in which he said that he was “unsure” of Manning was a “threat to himself” and that he was a “constant source of concern.” He asked Adkins why he didn’t remove Manning from the Secret Compartmentalized Information Facility (SCIF) if that was the case, and Adkins said that doing so would have removed his second Shi’a analyst. He would’ve had to move CW2 Balonek over to the night shift, reducing the unit’s “abilities to analyze and assess the biggest threat by a third.”
15 “Red flags” ignored
Lillian Smith, the government-appointed subject matter expert on information assurance for the defense team, testified about her review of the Army CID’s initial investigation into Bradley Manning’s disclosures, the 15-6 investigation into the unit failures that led up to the disclosures, and the Article 32 pretrial hearing in December 2011.
Smith identified 15 “red flags” that should have alerted Manning’s superiors that he might not be “suitable” to receive or maintain his security clearance, dating as far back as his Advanced Individual Training in 2008, all the way up to the incidents that Adkins failed to address.
Manning picked on in Iraq
Sheri Walsh, a brigade legal soldier, befriended Manning over the course of their deployment in Iraq. She often invited him to eat with her and over time, they began to talk at some length. She testified about fellow soldiers picking on him, including an incident in which one soldier punched a door to hit Manning in the face.
Lorena DeFrank (formerly Lorena Cooley) testified that she had referred to Manning as the “runt” of their unit, as he was physically the smallest.
DeFrank testified that Manning liked to talk about politics with her, and that after their mid-tour leave in early 2010, Manning had asked her to look at an Apache video (Collateral Murder). In April 2010, she said she overheard him in a Skype conversation, in which he expressed concern about public opinion in the United States.
Bradley to take the stand tomorrow
David Coombs confirmed after court that Manning will take the stand tomorrow – it will be up to Manning whether he testifies as a witness or whether he gives an unsworn statement that cannot be cross-examined.