Bradley Manning hearing closes with no hint of ruling
BY DAVID DISHNEAU Associated Press
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
12/12/12 at 4:13 AM
FORT MEADE, Md. - In a military hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning that has unfolded over the past two weeks, the reams of classified documents he is accused of leaking have barely come up. Instead, the proceedings have focused on a bedsheet noose, confiscated clothes and whether Manning seriously contemplated killing himself with flip-flops or the elastic waistband of his underwear.
The 24-year-old former Army intelligence analyst, a native of Crescent, Okla., is trying to get the charges against him thrown out, arguing that the military held him in unduly harsh conditions for nine months to punish him after his 2010 arrest on suspicion of turning over military and diplomatic secrets to the website WikiLeaks.
The Pentagon has said that Manning was a suicide risk and that it was only trying to keep him from hurting himself and others when it confined him to a windowless, 6-by-8-foot cell in the Marine Corps brig at Quantico, Va., for 23 hours a day.
Legal experts say the chances of the case being thrown out are slim, but Manning could win extra credit for the time he has served if he is ultimately convicted at a court-martial and sentenced to prison. He faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum of life behind bars.
The pretrial hearing drew to a close Tuesday. The military judge gave no indication of when she might rule.
Defense attorney David Coombs said during closing arguments that the military was worried more about its image than about Manning.
The highlight of the 10-day hearing was Manning's testimony, his first public comments since his May 2010 arrest. Manning said he got so used to leg irons and being locked up for most of the day that when he was finally transferred to medium-security confinement at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in April 2011, he felt uneasy moving freely around the cellblock.
During his nine months at the Quantico brig, commanders maintained the extra restrictions despite repeated recommendations by brig psychiatrists that they be eased. Manning was issued scratchy, suicide-prevention bedding, and sometimes all his clothing, including his underwear, was removed from his cell, along with his glasses and reading material.
During cross-examination of Manning, a military prosecutor held up a knotted bedsheet and got Manning to acknowledge that he fashioned a noose and contemplated suicide in Kuwait shortly after his arrest. Prosecutors also noted that Manning said on a form upon his arrival at Quantico that he was "always planning and never acting" on suicidal impulses.
Manning, who spent his early life in the central Oklahoma town of Crescent, is accused of leaking classified Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and more than 250,000 diplomatic cables while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2009 and 2010. He is also charged with leaking a 2007 video of a U.S. helicopter crew mistakenly gunning down 11 men.
Original Print Headline: Army pretrial hearing ends with no hint of ruling
Pfc. Bradley Manning: The soldier is accused of turning over thousands of documents containing military and diplomatic secrets to the website WikiLeaks, but there was little attention paid to that during his two-week hearing; rather, the big question was whether the military's treatment of him during nine months of confinement was justified