Witness | US v Pfc. Manning, Robert E. Schmidle, Deputy Commander, US CYBERCOM

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.

Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle, Deputy Commander, CYBERCOM

Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle, Deputy Commander, CYBERCOM

General Description

According to his official bio, "Lieutenant General Robert E. Schmidle, Jr., USMC, serves as the Deputy Commander for U.S. Cyber Command, Ft. George G. Meade, MD. As the Deputy Commander, he directs the forces and daily activities of U.S. Cyber Command. In this capacity, he also coordinates the Department of Defense computer network attack and computer network defense missions."

Schmidle is the Original Classification Authority, who concurs with the classification made by Mr. Betts declaration about the information contained 'the alleged chat logs' and its impact.

Agent Mark Mander testified that US Army CCIU sent agents to Florida to obtain log files, folders, files, and documents in person. Lt. Col. [sic] Schmidtl (sp) [sic] [Lt. Gen. Schmidle] provided background information about the Garani video and a password. The file name in question was BE22PAX.zip, according to notes taken by Rainey Reitman.

From my transcript, Mannder said, "Garani video believed to have been on shared -- by CENTCOM. Initially, CCIU attempted to connect and download those documents and that was collected as evidence. CCIU determined it was not sufficient. So CCIU sent two agents to CENTCOM in Florida where they obtained log files related to investigation. Several weeks later Robert E. Schmidle, Deputy Commander [US Cyber Command] provided background info on Garani air strike. The file was BE2PAX.zip. That file was believed to be Garani air strike video. Lamo contacted us and related that he became aware on the Internet of someone that he did not know, who was part of the original decryption effort, who worked for DOE, which we believed was Manning."

David Coombs, lead civilian defense counsel states 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."

Defense considered Schmidle an "essential witness" for the Article 32, but the Investigating Officer, Paul Almanza ruled that "Robert E. Schmidle, Deputy Commander, U. S. Cyber Command testimony" did "not outweigh the difficulty of expense to government operations."

The Government acknowledged that Robert E. Schmidle, Deputy Commander, US CYBERCOM, whom the defense requested for the Article 32 - that request was denied by the Government which argued that Robert E. Schmidle, Deputy Commander, US CYBERCOM 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.

Judge Lind agreed with the Investigating Officer's ruling, and was not improper, saying "Paul Almanza, performed the 'correct balance test, depositions only allowed in cases used to preserve essential testimony.'"

Judge Lind rules against the defense motion for deposition saying, "Government had offered OCA by telephonic." and "affidavits can be considered sworn statements under Section 28, 1746."

Other Information

Article 32 Witness List Number 42 on Defense Request for Article 32 Witnesses on December 2, 2011

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX [ROBERT E. SCHMIDLE, DEPUTY COMMANDER, U.S. CYBER COMMAND, as the Original Classification Authority (OCA) over the information discussed by XXXXXXXXXX [WHO IS THIS?]. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX [WHAT IS THIS?].

See March 16, 2011 Motion Hearing Transcript for name disclosure."> "Robert E. Schmidle, Deputy Commander, U. S. Cyber Command who concurs with the classification made by Mr. Betts declaration concerning 'the alleged chat logs'."

Defense Deposition Request, January 12, 2012

d. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX [WHAT IS THIS?]. XXXXXXXXXX [ROBERT E. SCHMIDLE, DEPUTY COMMANDER, US CYBER COMMAND], is the Original Classification Authority (OCA) over the information discussed by XXXXXXXXXX [ WHO IS THIS?]. XXXXXXXXXX [ROBERT E. SCHMIDLE, DEPUTY COMMANDER, US CYBER COMMAND] will testify that he concurs with the classification determination and impact statements made byXXXXXXXXXX [MR. BETTS, US CYBER COMMAND, CHIEF CLASSIFICATION OFFICER]. The defense would like to question him regarding his declaration and the basis for his belief. The requested deposition is needed due to the Article 32 Investigating Officer's improper determination that XXXXXXXXXX [ROBERT E. SCHMIDLE, DEPUTY COMMANDER, US CYBER COMMAND] was not reasonably available at the Article 32 hearing. XXXXXXXXXX [ROBERT E. SCHMIDLE, DEPUTY COMMANDER, 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 requests that an oral deposition be conducted.

  • See March 16, 2011 Motion Hearing Transcript for name disclosure. "Robert E. Schmidle, Deputy Commander, U. S. Cyber Command who concurs with the classification made by Mr. Betts declaration concerning "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:

    ...

    Robert E. Schmidle, Deputy Commander, U. S. Cyber Command who concurs with the classification made by Mr. Betts declaration.

    ...

    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 42] and Motion to Compel Witnesses from the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing.

    ...

    Lind continues and reads that the Pretrial Investigating Officer, Paul Almanza, also considered Robert E. Schmidle, Deputy Commander, U. S. Cyber Command testimony to not outweigh the difficulty of expense to government operations.

    ...

    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]...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 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.