Before suspected WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning was arrested in May 2010, numerous military personnel considered the young soldier to be mentally unstable, immature and potentially dangerous to himself and others, a new court filing by his defense team says. Read the entire document
The 23-year-old Army intelligence specialist exhibited behavior that should have prompted his superiors to take his weapon and block his access to classified material, according to a 20-page witness list filed last week in the case and published on a blog written by Manning's attorney, David Coombs.
Warnings and concerns about Manning's mental health were either ignored or were not passed up through the chain of command, the document says.
The Army private is due at Fort Meade, Maryland, on December 16 for an Article 32 hearing, a military version of a civilian arraignment. But unlike a civilian hearing, it often includes a considerable amount of testimony and presentation of evidence. The military has said the hearing is expected to last five days. A military officer will decide if Manning will face a court-martial.
Manning faces violations of military law, including aiding the enemy, stealing records, transmitting defense information and fraud. If convicted, he could go to prison for life. He has been held for more than 18 months in military custody and is currently behind bars at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas.
Witnesses' names are redacted in the document, but their roles related to Manning are described. They include computer forensic experts, psychologists who've examined Manning, FBI agents, military officers and soldiers. Adrian Lamo, the California hacker who allegedly chatted online with Manning, is expected to testify. The chats were first published in Wired, and can be read here.
The defense would also like to call President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify, the Coombs filing indicates. Presumably Obama is being named due to comments he has made regarding Manning's guilt, according to Politico. The defense may be motivated to call Clinton to testify about possible harm the leaking of classified material might have caused.
It's unclear whether all the witnesses Coombs describes will appear in person at the upcoming hearing. The defense attorney writes that he has been "unable to speak" with several witnesses due to "lack of cooperation."
A U.S. Army spokesman said he would not comment on the statements by Manning's attorney. "It would be inappropriate to comment at this point with proceedings under way," said Christopher Grey, public affairs officer for the Army Criminal Investigation Command.
The witness list document is the first inside glimpse into what could be Manning's two-prong defense strategy. First, it says that Manning's superiors and fellow soldiers knew for a long time he was a loose cannon, but that they failed to act on their concerns by either helping Manning or removing him. Second, the document describes witnesses saying that it was common for soldiers to install and store unauthorized media such as music, movies and games alongside sensitive, classified intelligence in the system. Soldiers didn't think it was wrong to do so; it was just how things were done, the document suggests.
According to the chat log that Wired published, Manning allegedly pretended to be singing along to a Lady Gaga song when he was reportedly downloading reams of secret intelligence about the Afghan and Iraq wars, and a quarter-million U.S. diplomatic cables.
In 2010 and early 2011, WikiLeaks caused an international sensation by publishing that classified information. U.S. officials called the disclosure a threat not only to national security but also to informants named in some of the leaked intelligence. It's still unknown if anyone was harmed as a result of WikiLeaks publishing secret information.
Here are some highlights from the witness list:
"The Army had become too comfortable working on SIPRNet while deployed," which "bred some complacency because of the ease of access," one witness told Coombs. The witness was referring to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, a system of interconnected computer networks used by the Defense and State departments to transmit classified data.
CNN's Charley Keyes contributed to this report.