Bradley Manning's former team leader is cross examined by David Coombs, while Judge Denise Lind looks on. (Art: Kay Rudin/RSN)
Specialist Jirhleah Showman was Manning's team leader prior to deployment in Iraq. During a counseling session with Manning, Showmen said she asked Manning why he joined the military and he replied, "To get an education." Showmen testified that she then looked at Manning, tapped the flag on her shoulder, and asked, "What does this mean to you?" Showman said Manning told her that the flag did not mean anything to him.
During cross examination, David Coombs asked Showman if Manning had made disloyal comments, why did she not write him up. Showman said she took the matter to her superiors, who informed her that they would handle the matter. One of those superiors is on the defense's rebuttal list.
Coombs also asked if Manning told her that "you can't have blind loyalty to a flag," and that "we have duty to all people from every country." She did not recall.
Coombs then brought forth counseling reports of sessions Showman had with Manning, including a recommendation for "soldier of the month."
After a long exchange on why she did not pursue the matter, Coombs moved to the period after Manning's arrest. Coombs presented two sworn statements Showman had made to investigators. Neither statement included any mention of Bradley Manning saying he had no loyalty to the flag.
In a later written statement, she does report Manning's statement about the flag, but according to Coombs it's almost treated as an afterthought in the report.
Showman's Superiors Rebut Her Testimony
One of Specialist Showman's superiors, Chief Warrant Officer 1 Balanek, testified that he did not hear any reports of Manning's disloyal statements. He testified that he felt the charge was serious and should have been reported in writing.
Sergeant Adkins then took the stand. Adkins was the sergeant Showman said she reported the disloyal statement to. He did not recall ever hearing Manning make a statement that was disloyal to America. Adkins also testified that he didn't recall Specialist Showman reporting to him that Manning said the flag meant nothing to him. Open and shut you say? Showman was lying? Not so fast.
When asked if he didn't recall or didn't remember, Adkins testified that he has suffered from memory loss since a fall in Iraq in 2004. He testified that he regularly suffered from memory loss and raised the issue with his chain of command. Adkins deployed with his unit in 2009 despite the memory loss. Showman testified that she went to Atkins on more than one occasion seeking action on Manning's statements. Adkins doesn't recall ever talking to Showman about Manning prior to deployment to Iraq.
On cross examination, the Army showed Adkins a memorandum he wrote in 2011, in which he stated that Specialist Showman properly testified that he informed Major Clausen, the officer in charge, that Manning had made disloyal statements concerning the flag. Asked by the Army why Adkins didn't file a disciplinary report on Manning prior to deployment, he testified that they needed bodies on the deployment and they felt they had sufficient systems in place to control Manning.
The document that the Army produced during cross examination was part of an appeal of a rank reduction for Sergeant Adkins. Coombs then presented him with an earlier document that conflicts with the document that said Showman correctly testified that he (Adkins) had told Major Clausen that Manning had made statements disloyal to the flag or the United States. Adkins read the document to himself and agreed that it also showed he had no knowledge at the time that Manning made disloyal statements.
On redirect, Coombs also showed Adkins sworn statements regarding the investigation of Bradley Manning post-arrest. When asked if he had referred to any disloyal statements about the flag or America in the documents, Adkins asked for time to review. After about a five minute review, Adkins said no. When Coombs asked him if he would have included those allegations in the statements if he knew about them, Adkins said yes.
Both sides ended their rebuttal, putting an end to that phase of the trial.
Closing arguments will begin Thursday, July 25th. The judge will take several days to reach a verdict.
The sentencing phase will begin on Wednesday, July 31st.