Witness | US v Pfc. Manning, Mr. Betts, US Cyber Command, Chief Classification Officer

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:

Mr. Betts, US Cyber Command, Chief Classification Officer, and the Original Classification Authority for "the alleged chat logs" and the information contained therein.

He is a civilian.

David Coombs, lead civilian defense counsel said the "Defense had requested that these [Original Classification Authority (OCA)] witnesses be present at the Article 32 requested from both the SPCMCA [Special Court-Martial Convening Authority ] and GCMCA [General Court-Martial Convening Authority] to depose the relevant OCA witnesses and requested contact information for the relevant OCAs."

The Government acknowledged that Mr. Betts, US CYBERCOM, Chief Classification Officer, whom the defense requested for the Article 32 - that request was denied by the Government which argued that Mr. Betts was not "reasonably available" and their denial was upheld by Investigating Officer, Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, - was stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland, where US CYBERCOM is located.

Mr. Betts, US Cyber Command, Chief Classification Officer, was considered an "essential witness" by the defense for Manning's Article 32, but the Investigating Officer for that hearing, Lt. Col. Paul Almzana ruled that Mr. Betts was "not reasonably" available and that the testimony did not "outweigh" his appearance

Judge Lind agreed with Lt. Col. Paul Almanza's ruling, and ruled against defense's motion for depositions, saying that affidavits can be considered sworn statements.

Defenses requested the contact information for Mr. Betts, US Cyber Command, on 1 February 2012 and received that information on 29 Feb 2012 (noted this may have been one of many requests from the US Government concerning Mr. Betts).

Article 32 Witness List Number 41 on Defense Request for Article 32 Witnesses on December 2, 2011

XXXXXXXXXX [MR. BETTS, US CYBER COMMAND] will testify about his classification determination concerning the alleged chat logs between XXXXXXXXXX [WHO IS THIS?] and Manning. Specifically, he will testify about his classification assessment of information discussed in the alleged chat logs. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX [WHAT IS THIS?] .

See March 16, 2011 Motion Hearing Transcript for name disclosure. "Mr. Betts, U. S. Cyber Command, Chief Classification Officer for the classification review of the alleged chat logs and the information discussed therein."

Defense Deposition Request, January 12, 2012

c. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX [MR. BETTS, US CYBER COMMAND]. XXXXXXXXXX [MR. BETTS, US CYBER COMMAND] will testify about his classification determination concerning the XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX [ALLEGED CHAT LOGS]. Specifically, he will testify about his classification assessment of the information discussed in XXXXXXXXXX [THE ALLEGED CHAT LOGS<]. The requested deposition is needed due to the Article 32 Investigation Officer's improper determination that XXXXXXXXXX [MR. BETTS, US CYBER COMMAND] was not reasonably available at the Article 32 hearing. XXXXXXXXXX [MR. BETTS, US CYBER COMMAND] was an essential witness and should have been produced in person at the Article 32 hearing. Additionally, given the classified nature of his testimony, the government needs to arrange for a proper location for the deposition. The defense request that an oral deposition be conducted.

See Defense Request for Article 32 Witnesses, December 2, 2011 for redacted phrases "alleged chat logs" and "the alleged chat logs."

See Defense Request for Article 32 Witnesses, December 2, 2011 for redacted phrases "alleged chat logs" and "the alleged chat logs."

Motion Hearing Transcript, March 16, 2012

Judge Lind: Defense Moves to Compel Deposition...

Judge Lind reads her ruling which is broken down into sections that explain the motion, the defense argument, and her ruling. Judge Lind reads very quickly and so I could not type out every word or sentence that she said. Here is what I captured:

Defense has asked for the oral deposition of the following individuals:

...

Mr. Betts, U. S. Cyber Command, Chief Classification Officer for the classification review of the alleged chat logs and the information discussed therein.

...

The Judge continues reading background information in her ruling.

Judge Lind then reads the lists of charges.

Lind reads excerpts from the Article 32 Pretrial Investigating Officers previously unavailable rulings on Defense's Witness List [See Number 41] and Motion to Compel Witnesses from the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing.

...

Lind continues as cites Almaza's ruling that Mr. Betts, U. S. Cyber Command, Chief Classification Officer was also "not reasonably" available and that the testimony did not "outweigh" his appearance.

...

Judge concludes by denying Defense Motion to Compel Depositions.

Lind rules that the Investigating Officer's determination of the witnesses reasonable availability in Article 32 Pretrial was not Improper, as the defense had argued.

Lind says she bases her own ruling on the Pretrial Article 32 rules in that the Investigating Officer, Paul Almanza, performed the "correct balance test, depositions only allowed in cases used to preserve essential testimony."

Lind says that affidavits can be considered sworn statements under Section 28, 1746.

Judge Lind continues:

Judge Lind: Government had offered OCA by telephonic. Regarding Discovery Request for three civilian witnesses [missed]...Regarding Defenses request of 1 February 2012, Defense received on 29 February 2012 the contact info of Mr. Betts....Defense disputes 2E applies...Article 9, R.C.M. 702...in the interest of justice the motion is denied.

Other Resources

Alexa O'Brien Alexa O'Brien researches and writes about national security. Her work has been published in VICE News, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Guardian UK, Salon, The Daily Beast, and featured on the BBC, PBS Frontline, On The Media, Democracy Now!, and Public Radio International. In 2013, she was shortlisted for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in the UK and listed in The Verge 50..