Witness | US v Pfc. Manning, Unidentified Diplomatic Security Services (DSS) Agent

UPDATE POST COURT-MARTIAL

United States v. Pfc.Manning was conducted in de facto secrecy. The public was not granted contemporaneous access to court filings or rulings during her trial. In addition to reporting on her trial, I transcribed the proceedings, reconstructed the censored appellate list, and un-redacted any publicly available documentation, in order to foster public comprehension of her unprecedented trial.

As a result of a lawsuit against the military judge and the Military District of Washington brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, as well as my own FOIA requests and research, an official court record for US v. Pfc. Manning was released seven months after her trial. That record is not complete.

The official trial docket is published HERE and the entire collection of documents is text searchable at usvmanning.org.

*During the pretrial proceedings, court-martial and sentencing of Pfc. Manning, Chelsea requested to be identified as Bradley and addressed using the male pronoun. In a letter embargoed for August 22, 2013 Chelsea proclaimed that she is female and wished to be addressed from that moment forward as Chelsea E. Manning.

General Description

This unidentified Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Agent was on the government's original 7 July 2010 witness list.

The unidentified DSS agent, however, was the only agent requested by defense for the December 2011 Article 32 Pretrial Hearing that the Government objected to. The defense sought to compel this agent's testimony.

While there is no public record of Almanza's denial of this DSS agent's testimony, the agent did not appear during any open session of the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing. The public record shows that at least fourteen witnesses were granted to defense for the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing. In Lt. Col. Almanza's ruling on the Defense Request for Article 32 Witnesses, 12 witnesses were granted to the defense, 10 of whom were also requested by the Government. Defense said in open Court on December 16, 2011, that Lt. Col. Almanza granted two additional witnesses to defense that morning.

No. 8 on the December 2, 2011 Defense Request for Article 32 Witnesses

XXXXXXXXXX [WHO IS THIS?] is one of the law enforcement agents that conducted work on this case. The defense requests that XXXXXXXXXX [WHO IS THIS?] be instructed to provide the Investigating Officer [ Lt. Col. Paul Almanza] and the defense with a complete copy of DSS [Diplomatic Security Services at the Department of State (State Department (DoS)] case file number XXXXXXXXXX [WHAT IS THIS NUMBER?] and any other collateral investigations by the DSS [Diplomatic Security Services at the Department of State (State Department (DoS) ] related to this case at least two weeks prior to the start of the Article 32 hearing.

December 8, 2011 Defense Request to Compel the Production of Article 32 Witnesses

john-doeThe fact that the defense-requested agents mirror those of the govemment (with the exception of XXXXXXXXXX [Unidentified DSS [Diplomatic Security Service Agent at the Department of State (State Department) (DoS)] Agent] should speak to the reasonableness of the defense's request. The defense has requested the attendance of XXXXXXXXXX [Unidentified DSS [Diplomatic Security Service Agent at the Department of State (State Department) (DoS)] Agent] in order to provide the Investigating Officer with testimony concerning the joint investigations being conducted by both the Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Notably, XXXXXXXXXX was on the original government's witness list filed on 7 July 2010. According to the government's memo dated 7 December 2011, the other agents "XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX [WHAT IS THIS?] can provide the needed testimony." Their testimony, however, will in large part be hearsay evidence about what other agents have done on the case and what witnesses have told these other case agents. Such testimony will do little to aid the Investigating Officer in conducting a "thorough and impartial investigation of all matters" as required by Article 32(a) UCMJ. Further, the defense has a legitimate interest in using the Article 32 hearing as a discovery tool (see discussion to RCM 405(a)). If the defense does not have the opportunity to question the case agents about evidence they developed, witnesses they interviewed, leads they pursued, leads they elected not to pursue, and other relevant matters, the defense will also be denied an important function that the Article 32 investigation is designed to accomplish. Given the status of current and ongoing operations and the fact that case agents are likely spread throughout the United States and overseas, the Article 32 investigation is the only realistic mechanism available to the defense to personally question the case agents involved in the investigation.

Alexa O'Brien Alexa O'Brien researches and writes about national security and law enforcement. Her work has been published in The New York Times, VICE News, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Guardian (UK), The Daily Beast, NY Daily News, and featured on the BBC, PBS, NPR, Democracy Now!, and Public Radio International. She was shortlisted for the 2013 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in the United Kingdom and listed in The Verge 50. In 2016, she worked at The Constitution Project in Washington, D.C. as a staff researcher and writer on an independent commission studying Oklahoma's death penalty. She also provided research support to scholars of the first cost study conducted on that state's capital punishment system.