December 16th, 2011
10:10 AM ET

BREAKING: Wikileak suspect wants recusal

From Brian Todd and Larry Shaughnessy at Fort Meade

A hearing for Bradley Manning, the Army private suspected of being behind the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history, began Friday morning but almost immediately went into recess after Manning's attorney asked the investigating officer to recuse himself.

Attorney David Coombs said Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, the presiding officer, should step down.

Among Coombs four objections was that Almanza, an Army reservist, had a conflict of interest with his civilian job with the Justice Department, which is investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

WikiLeaks posted hundreds of thousands of classified documents on Afghanistan, Iraq and diplomatic exchanges.

The United States accuses Manning, who turned 24 on Saturday, of violating military code, ranging from theft of records to aiding the enemy.

The latter charge is likely, experts say, to land Manning in prison for life. But, if a general sees fit, the law allows that Manning could be eligible for the death penalty.

Manning's Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing that will determine whether enough evidence exists to merit a court-martial, was expected to last a week but could be delayed if Almanza recuses himself.

Both Almanza and the prosecution wanted a recess.

Coombs objected to Almanza's job as a prosecutor for the Justice Department because Manning could be called as a witness in the federal case against Assange.

He objected to Almanza only granting the defense four out of 28 witnesses they requested who were not on the prosecution list.

Coombs said Almanza denied a defense request that the Article 32 hearing be closed to prevent information that might later be ruled inadmissible in court to get out publicly and possible taint a future jury.  He also objected to Almanza's willingness to accept unsworn statements.

Manning had been held at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas and was transported for the hearing to Fort George Meade, where the National Security Agency has its offices.

He appeared in the white-walled military courtroom Friday in thick glasses and the Army's camouflage combat uniform. His hair was darker and longer than in the photos of him that have circulated widely on the Internet.

When he responded to formality questions, he sounded confident and strong, in contrast to an image of a soldier who had been mistreated in the brig, as Coombs alleged.

Coombs would not say whether his client intended to speak at the hearing. So far, Manning has kept mum about the staggering allegations against him.

Coombs, also a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, has a reputation for creative military lawyering, his contemporaries told CNN. He is also an active blogger. He's been posting about the Manning case, including his client's alleged mistreatment at Quantico, since taking the case in 2010.

An attorney for the Bradley Manning Support Network says the group has paid about $150,000 in expenses toward Manning's defense, money raised mostly in small donated increments online.

Earlier this month, Coombs hinted on his blog at how he might defend Manning. He filed in court record, and then blogged, a kind of witness wish list.  Coombs said it described military personnel who, if he could call them, would testify that Manning behaved like an unhinged, potentially dangerous soldier on base in Iraq. Manning's superiors repeatedly missed chances to remove him from his intelligence job or revoke his security clearance, the document said.

A few days later, Coombs posted another filing protesting the military's apparent rejection of all but 10 of his requested witnesses. The military would not comment before the hearing.

"If Coombs uses the defense - the 'It's not my fault, they didn't stop me' - that's not going to fly with a military jury. That's not even a defense," said Michael Waddington, a criminal defense attorney who has tried at least 150 Article 32 hearings and many court-martial trials.

"The problem is that (the defense) is not really addressing the charges themselves. You're not saying, 'I didn't leak anything, you can't prove it,' " Waddington said.

Read Ashley Fantz's preview of the case here

soundoff (394 Responses)
  1. best cbd oil for dogs with cushing's disease

    what are best cbd strains

    March 4, 2021 at 10:21 am | Reply

    Best view i have ever seen !

    March 2, 2021 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  3. face masks

    I have extra lessons that fit your writing. With your permission...?

    February 26, 2021 at 3:19 am | Reply
  4. face masks for sale

    I get the feeling that you might be trying to be uncontroversial with this topic, but please remind yourself that the unpopular details will make for healthy debate when approached respectfully..and this is your site so let your "take" rule here!

    February 26, 2021 at 3:18 am | Reply
  5. Smoke N Vape

    Does anyone have any idea 10th Planet E Juice ecigarette store based in 913 Madison Ave. offers vape juice made by Grandma's Purse eJuice SALTS? I have tried sending them an email at at

    February 24, 2021 at 12:42 pm | Reply
  6. Reliable Proxies

    Hello there, I found your website via Google while looking for a related topic, your site came up, it looks good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

    February 24, 2021 at 1:10 am | Reply

    An added important part is that if you are a senior, travel insurance pertaining to pensioners is something that is important to really think about. The mature you are, a lot more at risk you will be for having something negative happen to you while abroad. If you are certainly not covered by many comprehensive insurance cover, you could have many serious troubles. Thanks for revealing your guidelines on this web site.

    February 22, 2021 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  8. n95 face masks

    Would you talk more on these points?

    February 22, 2021 at 8:59 am | Reply
  9. n95 mask

    I get this, but even so I have a question. Do you mind chatting?

    February 18, 2021 at 7:54 am | Reply
  10. International Freebies

    Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read something like this before. So good to search out any individual with some authentic ideas on this subject. realy thanks for beginning this up. this web site is one thing that is needed on the net, someone with somewhat originality. helpful job for bringing something new to the web!

    February 16, 2021 at 11:10 am | Reply
  11. Alan Eades

    marriott chase bonvoy credit card login account

    February 15, 2021 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  12. Boys Hairstyles

    I cling on to listening to the news bulletin speak about receiving free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the top site to get one. Could you advise me please, where could i find some?

    February 15, 2021 at 8:11 am | Reply
  13. Mayme Fryer

    how to clean carpet from pet urine

    February 14, 2021 at 4:50 pm | Reply
  14. Formal Hairstyles

    I like the valuable info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly. I am quite sure I抣l learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

    February 11, 2021 at 10:07 am | Reply
  15. Boys Hairstyles

    I have observed that clever real estate agents everywhere you go are warming up to FSBO Marketing and advertising. They are realizing that it's more than simply placing a sign post in the front yard. It's really in relation to building interactions with these suppliers who someday will become consumers. So, when you give your time and efforts to helping these traders go it alone - the "Law of Reciprocity" kicks in. Thanks for your blog post.

    February 10, 2021 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  16. where to buy lingerie for bridal shower

    Can someone recommend Plus Size Crotchless Underwear? Thanks x

    February 9, 2021 at 7:12 am | Reply
  17. Formal Hairstyles

    Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic but I'd figured I'd ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa? My site covers a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you! Great blog by the way!

    February 7, 2021 at 12:15 am | Reply
  18. buy face masks

    This is better information than I have seen anywhere else. Please could you share your sourceexperience with your readers?

    February 3, 2021 at 9:39 pm | Reply
  19. 우리카지노


    January 31, 2021 at 11:58 pm | Reply
  20. malatya escort

    January 27, 2021 at 5:58 pm | Reply
  21. sultangazi escort

    January 27, 2021 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  22. Joosie Vapes–34912264

    January 25, 2021 at 8:26 pm | Reply
  23. VapeZone

    January 25, 2021 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  24. amazing vape juice

    This is really interesting, You're a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post.

    Also, I have shared your site in my social networks!

    January 25, 2021 at 9:37 am | Reply

    esenyurt escort bayanar bu sitede üstelik hepsi ücretsiz...

    January 24, 2021 at 7:54 pm | Reply
  26. iskenderun escort

    esenyurt escort bayanar bu sitede üstelik hepsi ücretsiz...

    January 22, 2021 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  27. etiler escort

    esenyurt escort bayanar bu sitede üstelik hepsi ücretsiz...

    January 22, 2021 at 5:52 am | Reply
  28. face masks for sale

    Sounds okay as a concept-quite possibly impractical in practice, oh well..

    January 20, 2021 at 6:08 pm | Reply
1 2

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.