Government Opposes Vast Majority of Manning Witnesses

December 9, 2011

According to Bradley Manning’s attorney, the government filed a request opposing all but 10 of the 48 witnesses the defense has asked to testify at a pretrial hearing that begins on Dec. 16. The 10 exceptions overlap with the government’s own list.

Last Saturday, Manning lawyer David E. Coombs released his redacted list of witnesses [PDF], which Politico says likely includes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.

Manning is charged with 22 counts related his alleged leaking of hundreds of thousands of U.S. documents and cables to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. He faces the potential of life in prison.

Wired’s Kim Zetter writes:

The government’s filing is not publicly available, but according to the defense response to the government’s opposition (.pdf), the government appears to be opposed to the calling of military mental health experts who worked with Manning, as well as other witnesses who can testify to Manning’s deteriorating emotional health before and during the time the alleged leaks occurred. Those witnesses would also be able to testify, the defense hopes, to the failure of the Army to address these issues at the time. The defense’s focus on witnesses who will testify to Manning’s mental health is likely an effort to mitigate any punishment Manning will face if convicted.

Three mental health workers who “treated or examined” Manning are on Coombs’ witness list.

Other types of witnesses the government opposes, says Zetter, include “the testimony of case agents who worked directly on the investigation” and “witnesses who could testify to the classification level of the information that Manning allegedly leaked.”

And, of course, Sec. Clinton and President Obama.

Coombs says he filed “a request to compel the production [PDF] of the witnesses” yesterday, which he expects to be ruled on by the end of the week.

For background, here’s more on the defense’s potential strategy for the upcoming hearing. Also watch our film WikiSecrets for more on Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks, and take a look at Manning’s Facebook page, which reveals more about his state of mind in the days and months before his arrest.

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