Transcript | US v Pfc. Manning, Article 32 Pretrial, 12/21/11 (by an anonymous journalist, ed. by Alexa O’Brien)


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

*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.

This transcript of the December 21, 2011, Article 32 Pretrial hearing in U.S. v Pfc. Manning was obtained from a respected journalist in attendance that day at Fort Meade.

The journalist wished to remain anonymous, but wanted the transcript to be made public. The journalist requested that I clean up the transcript and fact check. Any errors are, therefore, my own.

  • The Investigation Officer is Paul Almanza, an Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel and Justice Department prosecutor.
  • Prosecution is Captain Ashden Fein, Captain Joe Morrow, and Captain Angel Overgaard.
  • Defense is Mr. David Coombs, Major Matthew Kemkes, and Captain Paul Bouchard.



Defense (Coombs): [Expresses appreciation.] How long were you in the Army?

Padgett: Three years. [The following is in response to multiple questions.] Prior service, U.S. Marine 2001 to 2005. My specialty was as a counter-intelligence agent. Initially I was a 35 Fox. Current assignment: Bravo [missed] special agent. In 2009, I deployed to Iraq in October. Worked the night shift at the T-S.C.I.F. I was the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge [N.C.O.I.C.]. F.O.B. Hammer, October, 2009, assumed position [of N.C.O.I.C.] Received no counseling. Attended no leadership. My orders were to oversee operations handed down from superiors. I did not counsel other soldiers. [On leadership:] there could have been more oversight.

Defense (Coombs): Was there a clear chain of command?

Padgett: No. I was never Bradley Manning’s direct supervisor.

[Reitman notes: “His job was to oversee operations of the night shift, but he had no real guidance or formal training to do so. Sgt. Padgett noted that there was no clear chain of command between him and PFC Manning, whom he was supposed to supervise.”]

Defense (Coombs): Did you ever request to counsel Manning?

Padgett: Yes. I saw an incident and asked to counsel him during the night shift.

Defense (Coombs): You wanted to do that because correcting soldiers was part of what you did.

Padgett: Yes.

Defense (Coombs): December 2009, your first counseling session. Anything happen during that?

Padgett: We sat across from each other. Bradley Manning turned the table upside down and was restrained by an S2 officer. We cleared the room.

Defense (Coombs): You were counseling him?

Padgett: Yes. Inside the brigade S2’s office in the S.C.I.F. We were going over the counseling and the importance of being on time. He was staring at me. I asked him not to because it made me uncomfortable. He stood and flipped the table.

Defense (Coombs): After flipping the table, what did he do?

Padgett: He flipped. Everything hit the ground.

Defense (Coombs): You saw that there were weapons? Thought you should move him away?

Padgett: I moved him away, and the officer in charge [Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Ehresman] restrained him. Sat him on a bench and told him to sit.

[Reitman notes, “Two computers and a radio crashed to the ground. Sgt. Padgett put his hand on PFC Manning to calm him down. Moments later, the Chief Warrant Officer put PFC Manning in a “full nelson” style wrestling head lock.”]

Defense (Coombs): Did Master Sergeant Adkins come to you?

Padgett: I talked to a few people in the brigade. I did not talk to Master Sergeant Adkins, Major Clausen, the First Sergeant, or Company Commander Drewer (sp.). There was no U.C.M.J. [Uniform Military Code of Justice] action received by Manning due to the incident in 2009.


Prosecution (Overgaard): You were trained on classified information? You were trained about the consequences of releasing classified information?

Padgett: [Answers “Yes, Ma’am” to all questions.]

[Prosecution continues to interview Padgett on his training and mission.]

Prosecution (Overgaard): Mission was to find enemy location and tactics?

Padgett: Yes, Ma’am.

Prosecution (Overgaard): The Accused as well? To gather intel pertinent to the Shia?

Padgett: Yes, Ma’am.

Prosecution (Overgaard): Job?

Padgett: Computer-based.

Prosecution (Overgaard): Ever use C.I.D.N.E. Afghanistan? WGET? [Missed another.]

Padgett: No.

Prosecution (Overgaard): You never burned classified information onto C.D.’s? Because it was not authorized?

Padgett: No, never.

Prosecution (Overgaard): You signed multiple N.D.A.’s? That explained clearly that your job…? [Sound dropped out in the press pool.]

Prosecution (Overgaard): Whose job is it to safeguard classified information?

Padgett: Every soldier’s.

Investigating Officer: When in the T-S.C.I.F., what were soldiers told about music and movies?

Padgett: Music was authorized on the shared drive. We could bring music C.D.’s that weren’t re-writeable. [Missed answer about movies.] There were a couple of games at one point on the shared drive.



Prosecution (Morrow): Captain Keay? This is Captain Morrow.

[Missed something.]

Defense (Coombs): Did you ever deploy to Iraq with the 2nd BCT, 10th Mountain [2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division]?

Keay: In November of 2009 I caught up with them at F.O.B. Hammer. First deployment in S2, or Intelligence. Initially, I didn’t have a specific intelligence position. Took awhile for me to link up with the unit.

Defense (Coombs): Job?

Keay: S2 X. But when I arrived, I was the night shift OIC [Officer In Charge].

Defense (Coombs): Job?

Keay: Had a few soldiers. Had to take over tasks they had left. Skeleton crew at night. My first position.

Defense (Coombs): How many soldiers?

Keay: Three.

Defense (Coombs): Non-commissioned officer with you?

Keay: No.

Defense (Coombs): Why no N.C.O.I.C.?

Keay: My guess, there wasn’t enough going around. Primary focus was the day-shift. That is when everything was happening, and when most of the intelligence was happening.

Defense (Coombs): Who worked under you?

Keay: Three specialists: Manning, Padgett, and Cooley (sp.)

Defense (Coombs): Who gave them tasks?

Keay: They got handed tasks from the day-shift. I made sure they weren’t sleeping…but big analysts. I did that for a few weeks, then went to the day shift.

Defense (Coombs): You were the night shift OIC for three weeks?

Keay: Yeah. Eye-opening.

Defense (Coombs): Did you hear or see soldiers listening to or watching music?

Keay: I probably did. I think they were just passing stupid clips around.

Defense (Coombs): Did you catch them playing games?

Keay: I never caught anybody with their hand in the cookie jar.

Defense (Coombs): Ever ask why they could listen to music or play games?

Keay: Yes. What I saw was not what I had expected.

Defense (Coombs): Did you give a sworn statement to Army CID [Criminal Investigation Command]?

Keay: Yeah.

Defense (Coombs): Who had you ask about appropriate behavior on SIPRnet side?

Keay: Lots of people. I never got straight answers. Media had never been allowed during training or at Fort Huachuca. Things were different down-range. It wasn’t a big deal, but we were more lax than we should’ve been. Listening to music in the S.C.I.F. was accepted.

Defense (Coombs): [Coombs asks Keay about his next job.] Was there media there too?

Keay: Yeah, but it wasn’t a S.C.I.F.

Defense (Coombs): What should a S.C.I.F. look like?

Keay: You should not be listening to music while soldiers are working.

Defense (Coombs): Did you believe Pfc. Manning wanted to be a good soldier?

Keay: My initial impression is that he wanted to try, and he did do good analytical work. 9:35 a.m. CAPTAIN Keay PERMANENTLY EXCUSED.


Investigating Officer to Defense: Any other witnesses?


Investigating Officer: Pfc. Manning, want to make a statement?


[Reitman notes: David Coombs noted that this was the final defense witness for the Article 32 hearing, because all other defense witnesses were not allowed by the I.O. to be questioned.

The I.O. asked Pfc. Manning if he understood his right to make a statement, and his right to not make a statement. Pfc. Manning, in very quick speech, said what I understood to be “I understand, Sir”…

The I.O. then asked Pfc. Manning if he wished to make a statement. Pfc. Manning replied “No, Sir.”]