(FORT MEADE, Md.) — Bradley Manning’s defense team breezed through testimony from the only two witnesses they called Wednesday, setting the stage for closing arguments Thursday that will likely focus on Manning’s female alter ego, Breanna, his violent erratic behavior and the leadership failures within Manning’s unit.
Manning did not testify or provide a written statement on his own behalf, as part of the Article 32 pre-trial hearing that will determine whether Manning’s case will be recommended for a court-martial.
From the start of the six-day hearing, defense attorneys consistently raised the issue of his gender-identity disorder.
Early on Maj. Matthew Kemkes, Manning’s military attorney, said raising Manning’s homosexuality and his gender identity disorder was important because it would show “what was going on in my client’s mind.”
Manning is accused of leaking thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks while he was deployed to Baghdad as an intelligence analyst in late 2009 through mid-2010. In 2010, the anti-secrecy website published hundreds of thousands of military battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as more than a hundred thousand State Department cables.
Prosecution witnesses were routinely asked about whether they knew about Manning’s sexuality and alter ego, whom he named Breanna. One Army computer forensic investigator recalled seeing a purchase order for a book on feminine facial surgery from Amazon with billing and shipping information for Manning.
Another investigator said she had seen gender identity documents inside Manning’s living quarters in Baghdad, but at the time didn’t think they were relevant to the investigation.
Capt. Steven Lim, Manning’s commander during his service in Baghdad, testified that it was not until after Manning’s arrest that he became aware of an email Manning had sent to his senior enlisting officer. In the April 2010 email, Manning said he suffered from gender identity disorder and included a photo of himself dressed as a woman. Lim said had he known about this email it would have raised red flags for him and would have probably resulted in his being removed from his job and denied access to sensitive information.
As the defense focused on gender identity, the prosecution was quick to point out the training Manning and his co-workers had received prior to security clearance. These included awareness of security protocols that restricted the movement of secure documents outside their classified office; and Manning had to sign a non-disclosure form stipulating classified information must not be disclosed for a period of 80-100 years.
In questioning prosecution witnesses, Manning’s defense attorneys also raised the issue of his erratic, violent behavior, which led one superior to conclude he was “a threat to himself and to others.” The defense raised questions about why Manning’s superior officers allowed him to deploy to Iraq and continue to have access to classified materials.
Former Army specialist Jihrleah Showman said she was “furious” when she saw Manning’s name on a deployment roster after two disturbing incidents, prior to the unit’s deployment to Iraq, in late 2009.
In one of the incidents, he began to act aggressively, “screaming at the top of his lungs, waving his hands, with saliva coming out of his mouth” at the sight of his the unit’s senior ranking non-commissioned officer.
Showman said she recommended that Manning receive an Article 15 non-judicial punishment to deal with a minor infraction, because he “was a threat to himself” and a “threat to others” and had disrespected his superiors. However, to her knowledge, superior officers took no action.
In a separate incident, Manning told her he “constantly felt paranoid” and “felt people were listening to his conversations, felt he could not trust anyone in the unit or around him.”
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Jason Hanna, Madison Park and Steve Almasy, CNN