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Manning's personal struggles key to defense

Dec. 18, 2011 - 08:51AM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 18, 2011 - 08:51AM  |  
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in handcuffs Dec. 17 at Fort Meade, Md. Manning, an Army intelligence specialist accused of passing government secrets, spent his 24th birthday in court as his lawyers argued his status as a gay soldier before the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" played an important role in his actions.
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in handcuffs Dec. 17 at Fort Meade, Md. Manning, an Army intelligence specialist accused of passing government secrets, spent his 24th birthday in court as his lawyers argued his status as a gay soldier before the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" played an important role in his actions. (Cliff Owen / The Associated Press)
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Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, second from left, is escorted out of a courthouse in handcuffs Dec. 17 at Fort Meade, Md. (Cliff Owen / The Associated Press)

FORT MEADE, Md. — The prosecution is poised to present more witnesses against alleged WikiLeaker Pfc. Bradley Manning in the third day of a hearing to determine whether Manning will face a court-martial.

The defense has sought to make an issue of Manning's homosexuality, his fragile emotional state and the security lapses that allowed the former intelligence analyst to allegedly leak hundreds of thousands of sensitive military and diplomatic documents from a Bagdad, Iraq, to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks.

The Obama administration says the released information has threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America's relations with other governments. Manning's lawyers counter that much of the information that was classified by the Pentagon posed no risk.

The proceedings, called an Article 32 hearing, are being held at Fort Meade, a post outside Washington, D.C., to determine whether Manning will face a trial on 22 counts, including aiding the enemy. Manning, who turned 24 on Saturday, could face a term of life in prison as a traitor.

Manning appeared in court looking slight in his Army combat uniform and dark-rimmed glasses. He appears attentive in court, has been taking notes and scribbling on a legal pad, and he confers with his attorneys during breaks.

The prosecution has focused on building the trail between Manning and WikiLeaks, calling law enforcement agents to testify about computers and electronics seized from Manning's quarters, his office and his home in the United States.

Forensic investigators found chat logs of conversations between Manning and former hacker Adrian Lamo to whom he bragged of leaking classified information, according to a government witness. Lamo eventually turned Manning and the chat logs over to authorities.

The chat logs on Manning's computer matched those found on the computer of Lamo, said Special Agent Mark Mander, with the Army's Computer Crime Investigative Unit.

Agents found a memory card with "information that was classified" on it in Manning's home on the United States, Mander said, but he did not elaborate. They also found on his computer logs of searches he performed on Intelink, the U.S. intelligence community's secure networks.

Mander also revealed initial concern Manning had been in contact with foreign agents.

"In the beginning, there was concern a foreign intelligence service was involved," he said.

In the most explosive testimony of the second day, the former intelligence officer in Manning's brigade said he was unaware that Manning emailed a supervisor a picture of himself in women's clothing. Manning had an alter-ego — Breanna Manning — in whose name he created an email and Facebook account, according to witness testimony.

Under cross-examination from the defense, Capt. Steven Lim, confirmed the lax supervision of Manning and lax security in the secure facility in Baghdad, Iraq, where Manning served as an intelligence analyst for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

The noncommissioned officer who supervised the secure facility, then-Master Sgt. Paul Adkins, has since Manning's arrest been demoted to sergeant first class for dereliction of duty. Lim, another of the 15 personnel disciplined since Manning's arrest, said he was given a letter of admonishment.

Adkins had drafted three memoranda detailing concerns about Manning but failed to notify anyone about them. Lim, who was shown the memos and Manning's email of April 2009 only after Manning's arrest in May 2010, testified had he seen them earlier, he would have suspended Manning's security clearance.

Under cross-examination, Lim said Manning was the unit's analyst of the local Shia population, talented with pattern analysis and building charts, but a poor public speaker with behavioral problems. On Dec. 20, 2010, Manning flipped a table in front of a superior who admonished him for being late, according to witness testimony.

The night-shift, where Manning worked, was reserved for second-string analysts dedicated to completing the work of the day shift. Amid frequent shuffling in the ranks above him, Manning's behavioral problems did not impact his security clearance.

Lim confirmed that soldiers in the facility where Manning worked loaded music, videos and games onto secure computers and networks. Asked what would prevent a soldier from burning a CD in the facility for his own purposes, Lim responded, "Nothing."

"You can't watch every person 24 hours a day," he said. "They're comes a level of trust with a secret clearance."

Under cross-examination, Troy Bettencourt, a former CID agent assigned to the Manning investigation, testified that Manning had argued with superiors and was at one point found curled in the fetal position.

The defense asked Bettenourt whether Manning, given his odd behavior, was dealt with appropriately.

"I would like to think if I had been in the chain of command would have done things differently," Bettencourt said. "Ideally would have been aware of what we know now to prevent him from deploying, and again that is with the benefit of hindsight."

Special Agent Toni Graham, who collected evidence from Manning's living quarters and workplace, testified that among the items seized was a DVD marked "secret" that contained a military video showing the 2007 incident in which Apache attack helicopters gunned down unarmed men in Iraq.

The video was taken from the cockpit of one the helicopters. WikiLeaks posted the video in April 2010, sparking questions about the military's rules of engagement and whether more needed to be done to prevent civilian casualties. The gunners can be heard laughing and referring to the men as "dead bastards."

At the time the video was posted by WikiLeaks, the Pentagon called it a breach of national security and it was believed to be secret.

Maj. Matthew Kemkes, one of Manning's lawyers, asked Graham whether she knew the video was unclassified. She said she didn't. "In fact, it was an unclassified video," Kemkes said.

Graham said she also found materials in Manning's quarters about gender-reassignment surgery, including an article "Transsexuals in the military: Flight into hypermasculinity," and chat-logs on his laptop in which he described himself as "fragile."

"We already knew that Pfc Manning was a homosexual," Graham said. "We knew he was interested in those topics."

Defense attorneys questioned Troy Bettencourt, a former CID agent assigned to the Manning investigation about whether the Army, given his odd behavior, should have done more.

"I would like to think if I had been in the chain of command would have done things differently," Bettencourt said. "Ideally would have been aware of what we know now to prevent him from deploying, and again that is with the benefit of hindsight."

Separately, lawyers for WikiLeaks and founder Julian Assange are asking the Army Court of Criminal Appeals to guarantee them two seats in the courtroom at Fort Meade.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

jgould@militarytimes.com?subject=Question from AirForceTimes.com reader">Joe Gould is reporting from the hearing at Fort Meade. Follow him on https://twitter.com/">Twitter: @reporterjoe

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