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Manning Defense Exposes a Dysfunctional Chain of Command

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Originally published at Reader Supported News

Today's testimony revealed that until Bradley Manning punched Specialist Showman, shown testifying above earlier in the trial, none of Manning's behavioral issues were reported to the company commander. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN)
Today's testimony revealed that until Bradley Manning punched Specialist Showman, shown testifying above earlier in the trial, none of Manning's behavioral issues were reported to the company commander. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN)

By *Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News 

RSN Special Coverage: Trial of Bradley Manning  

Bradley Manning's defense team called their first sentencing phase witnesses on Monday but not before Judge Lind addressed a video that shows the inside of the courtroom. The video, which opens with the voice of Daniel Ellsberg and closes with supporters chanting "Free Bradley Manning," was apparently recorded in the public overflow trailer. The judge announced that security measures in the public entrance would be increased. She also thanked most of the media and the public for following the rules.

The Bradley Manning Support Network was very critical of the leaked video, pointing out that the March leak of Manning's one-hour testimony was accompanied by a statement in which the leaker took full responsibility and stated that no organization was behind that leak. The Army is still investigating and to date has not made an arrest.

Many on twitter feared the judge would place more restrictions on the media.

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The latest footage was published online by Asher Wolf, the pseudonym used by an Australian activist-journalist. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Ms. Wolf defended herself against the Twitter backlash, warning Manning supporters not to "shoot the messenger."

"If they do shut down the press pool it would be indicative of the state of freedom of press in America. No journalist should have to fear the simple act of doing their job," she said, adding that the footage gave the public their first look inside the court during a "historic case."

The theme of the defense witnesses was a dysfunctional chain of command that ignored behavioral issues associated with Bradley Manning.

Col. David Miller was the first witness called by the defense. He was the brigade commander and part of the team that reviewed Manning's unit prior to deployment. Miller testified that there was a shortage of intelligence analysts but there was no pressure to deploy un-deployable soldiers. He painted Manning's unit as one with leadership problems.

Major Clifford Clausen was removed from his command during the deployment. Clausen was replaced by a captain as the unit's S2 officer. Miller testified that Clausen was not up to providing the unit with adequate intelligence. The S2 staff mission is to provide command and Army/ground forces with actionable and tailored intelligence in support of information operations. The S2 officer is in charge of the unit.

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Manning's company commander, Major Dreher, was relieved of his duty for "not being truthful about property reports" in the December-January time frame of 2009-2010.

Coombs then asked about Master Sgt. Paul David Adkins, who testified during the trial that he had memory issues prior to deployment resulting from a head injury in 2004. Adkins also faced a reduction in rank and lost his position.

Col. Miller said the brigade had 300 mental health referrals during the brigade's deployment in Iraq and around 25 were ordered by the command. Miller approved 16 removals from deployment for mental health issues.

Following Manning's arrest, Col. Davis was involved in a review of the procedures in Manning's unit. Safeguards were put in place to limit removal of discs and removable devices from the SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility). Other safeguards were put in place that were not in place prior to Manning's arrest.

Lt. Col. Brian Kerns was the executive officer for Manning's Brigade. He also testified that Clausen and Adkins were weak leaders. In a report after Manning's arrest, Kerns wrote that ideally Clausen and Adkins should both have not deployed in command roles. There were discussions prior to deployment on replacing Clausen but not Adkins. Kerns testified that Sgt. Kyle Balonek was the lone experienced strong leader among the NCOs in Manning's unit.

Company commander Major Elijah Dreher testified that he had not been informed that Manning turned over a table or reached for a weapon during a counseling session. He was surprised to have not heard about such serious incidents.

Major Clausen, the S-2, testified that he knew Manning was receiving mental health counseling prior to deployment. Clausen also testified that Master Sgt. Adkins had brought concerns about Manning to Major Dreher, the company commander at the time, who testified that he never was informed. Clausen was reprimanded for allowing Adkins to develop the command structure in the S2 even though he found him to be a below average leader.

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