Transcript | US v Pfc. Manning, Arraignment, 02/23/12


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 was taken by hand at the arraignment hearing for United States v. Pfc. Bradley Manning on February 23, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. at Fort Meade, MD.

Pfc. Bradley Manning’s arraignment was held in same courtroom as his Article 32 Pretrial Hearing.

The courtroom is lit dramatically with incandescent parabolic reflectors and not fluorescent lights as was his Article 32 Pretrial Hearing.

Military personnel are dressed in full armed service uniforms. They worn camos during the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing.

Many of the same guards at the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing, including Lt. Hughes, are present for the arraignment, an Article 39(a) session.

Captain John Haberland, a spokesman for the Military District of Washington (MDW), sat behind me taking notes and coughing. He had also been at the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing.

Military Judge Col. Denise R. Lind is presiding. She is middle-aged with blondish coiffed hair, spectacles, and a long black robe.

Prosecution is Major Ashden Fein, Captain Joe Morrow, and Captain Angel Overgaard.

Defense is Mr. David Coombs, Major Matthew Kemkes and Captain Paul Bouchard.

Mr. David Coombs sits to the right of Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Right of the prosecution table is a small corner desk. At the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing the desk was occupied by an MP named Bradley, not Pfc. Bradley Manning. On his desk stood a router looking device with an enormous antenna. Today the the desk is occupied by a middle age bearded man in a civilian suit with polarizing spectacles, who is the Court Security Officer. He was also in attendance at the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing.

Fort Meade is populated with middle-aged sunken faces in SUV’s and luxury vehicles, or polite, young military personnel.

Up front, behind Judge Col. Denise Lind’s raised bench stands the US Flag, the Army Flag, and the flag for the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. The chord and tassels indicate they are martial flags. At her right and below sits a young male in armed service uniform. Seated in the jury box on the prosecution’s side of the Court is a young female in camos, her hair in a tight bun.

Compared to the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing of United State v. Pfc. Bradley Manning, the gallery does not have as many dark suited men with copies of the Washington Post tucked under their pews. Today, the gallery is filled with young journalists. A casually dressed Veteran for Peace and linen suited David Eberhart from Code Pink, sit on the defense side of the gallery. I am in the back row of the defense side of the gallery opposite a female representative from the Australian embassy, who was also present at the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing.

Most of language today is legal and procedural. The hearing lasted about 50 minutes.

Judge Col. Denise Lind opens the proceedings.

Major Ashden Fein (Prosecution) states the procedural history of the charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning beginning with the ‘original accuser’ Cameron Leiker, Headquarters Battalion Commander.

Fein (Prosecution): Prosecution is ready to proceed.

Fein (Prosecution) names each member of the prosecution and defense team, confirming that they have been “detailed” to the Court.

Fein (Prosecution): Fein…Morrow…Overgaard…for the defense…Coombs…Kemkes…Bouchard…Hunter White…Patricia Williams…Court reporter…Cory Brother (sp.).

Fein (Prosecution) then states that all members of the prosecution are certified and qualified under the UCMJ [Unified Code of Military Justice] .

Judge Col. Denise Lind reads Pfc. Bradley Manning his rights. Like the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing script, Lind details a defendant’s rights, as well as parameters for military appointed defense counsel. Lind’s statement advises Pfc. Manning what his rights are should he request other military counsel than those already provided.

Judge Lind asked Pfc. Manning if he understood his rights.

Pfc. Bradley Manning: Yes, M’am.

Judge Lind asks Pfc. Manning who will represent him.

Pfc. Bradley Manning: Mr. David Coombs, Major Matthew Kemkes, (Manning quickly glances down table) and Captain Paul Bouchard.

David Coombs (civilian Defense) stands and states that all members of the defense are “detailed and certified.”

Judge Lind asks Coombs to state his qualifications. Coombs does so and states that he has no conflicts of interest.

Coombs is sworn in by Judge Lind.

Judge Lind asks if there are any challenges to her presiding in the case of United States v. Pfc. Bradley Manning. Fein declines. Coombs asks if he might ask her some questions.

Coombs (Defense): What prior knowledge do you have of this case?

Judge Lind: I knew there was case. I knew the case involved classified information. I knew it involved a person named Pfc. Manning.

Coombs (Defense): Did you view any material related to this case?

Judge Lind: “No.” or “Not that I can recall.” [I am not sure of her exact words.]

Coombs (Defense): What impressions, if any, do you have of this case?

Judge Lind: None.

Coombs (Defense): Any discussions?

Judge Lind: Not that I can recall.

Coombs (Defense): Formed any opinions about the case?

Judge Lind: None.

Coombs asks Judge Lind for her credentials.

Coombs (Defense): Did you teach at the National Defense University?

Judge Lind states that she took [a ?] class[es ?] from 2006 to 2007 at the National Defense University and then “I taught at the National Defense University from 2007 to 2008.”

Coombs (Defense): What courses did you teach?

Judge Lind says that she taught national security strategy and law of armed conflict. Lind states she was part of a “think tank and since I was co-chair some sort of Australia, New Zealand…regional studies.”

Coombs (Defense): Ever deal with classified information?

Judge Lind pauses. Lind states that she thinks two cases either at college or as a military judge and then “but I had to have received training on classified information to become a judge…short courses…Army Judge Advocate General School.”

Coombs (Defense): I taught there. Did you ever take any of my courses? Do you recall me teaching any classes?

Judge Lind: (pauses) I think you might have [taught me]. You look familiar.

Coombs (Defense): Do you have any impressions of me?

Judge Lind: (politely embarrassed laugh) …doesn’t really remember the class. No.

Coombs (Defense): No further questions.

Major Fein (Prosecution) reads the charges grouped: e.g. “this many violations under Article 134”. Fein starts with “aiding the enemy”. At another point Fein states that unauthorized software was put on “two separate systems.”

Major Fein describes the procedural aspects of the charges. First accuser was Cameron Leiker, Headquarters Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Cameron A. Leiker. He states after Headquarters Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Cameron A. Leiker was the first convening authority…then Col. Carl Coffman, Commander of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall the Special Court Martial Convening Authority…then Military District of Washington, Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, Commander of Joint Task Force – National Capital Region, the General Court Martial Convening Authority.

Judge Lind explains to Pfc. Manning what his options are regarding the form of his court martial, either by military judge or by a jury of officers. [Please refer to the Manual for Court Martial)]. Lind describes the various rules for a jury of officers: “…None can be junior to you…” Lind describes that two thirds of the panel of officers are required for guilt and sentence, and three fourths if the sentence carries more than ten years of confinement. Lind concludes, “…or a military judge alone can rule and determine sentence.”

Coombs (Defense) stands and states that Manning defers form [trial by judge or panel of of officers] selection.

Fein (Prosecution) stands and asks if Pfc. Manning will waive the recitation of charges.

Coombs (Defense) waives.

Fein (Prosecution) again goes into a procedural history of the charges against Pfc. Manning: “LCameron Leiker, Headquarters Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Cameron A. Leiker sworn before someone certified to administer oaths…Cameron Leiker, Headquarters Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Cameron A. Leiker, convening authority…Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, Commander of Joint Task Force – National Capital Region…Military District of Washington”

Judge Lind states for the Court record that an RCM 802 meeting with counsel took place telephonically on February 8, 2012. Lind explains to Manning and to the Court that the telephonic meeting dealt with scheduling and logistical matters. Lind explains that when an Electronic Docketing Request is received, the Court is required to solicit dates from the defense and prosecution for the arraignment and trial.

Judge Lind asks the defense and prosecution if they agree. They answer, “Yes, M’am” and “Yes, your Honor.”

Judge Lind states for the Court record that at the RCM 802 meeting the US prosecution requested Army service uniforms. Defense had no objection. Lind states for the Court record that both sides provided possible trial schedules. Lind states that at the RCM 802 conducted telephonically on February 8, 2012 was followed with email correspondence. Lind states for the Court record that the RCM 802 telephonic meeting with counsel also concerned motions that would be filed at the arraignment. [If I am correct] Lind states that there was a question as to how to file motions [meaning by submission or grouped].

[The next part relates to a series of correspondences between defense, Judge Lind, and the prosecution regarding defense motions.]

Judge Lind states that the RCM 802 conference and subsequent email correspondence also concerned a defense motion to compel discovery, a defense motion to compel deposition, and the bill of particulars.

Coombs (Defense) states that when the defense requested discovery, prosecution said it needed more time, namely three weeks.

Coombs (Defense) states in an “email dated February 15, 2012 “the Court advised the Government that their request for continuance is denied”

[I missed Judge Lind exact question to prosecution.]

Fein (Prosecution) stands and states, “We didn’t receive that email.”

Coombs (Defense) stands and states (to Judge Lind) “in a prosecution email dated February 21, 2012, prosecution again requested a three week continuance…the email [thread] has your denial.”

Fein (Prosecution): We will look at that.

Judge Lind then states that prior to today, the defense and prosecution discussed that the next court session was to be 15 and 16 March 2012. Lind states that the date is not firm. The date, Lind states, could be week of 15 and 16 March 2012 and would be “solidified next week.”

The Government raised the issue of “classification spillage” when defense filed its original motions.

Fein (Prosecution): When the defense filed the original motions there was spillage of classified info. We had to seek clarification from the Original Classification Authorities (OCAs)…only two out of three [not sure if this refers to motions or…OCAs]…

Coombs (Defense): The Government alleges “spillage”. Our experts determined there was “no spillage.” Based upon…the Protective Order which defense [filed?] the Government unilaterally determines there is “spillage.”

Coombs (Defense) continues and proposes that the Court Security Officer have the ultimate authority in determining of their is a classification spillage, and that the Court Security Officer consult the OCAs himself. Lind says the matter will be addressed at the next session.

Judge Lind brings up the matter of the Trial Publicity Order. Lind states that a court modified draft of the Trial Publicity Order has been proposed to trial counsel. Lind says the Trial Publicity Order “will be resolved by tomorrow.”

Judge Lind acknowledges that the order proposing that the Court Security Officer is [not signed]. [I have in my notes that this individual is “EB”. I also have in my notes that the defense mentions the individual Prather (sp.) related to the Protective Order.]

Judge Lind (to defense): Please refrain from ex parte filings until the next session on 15 and 16 March 2011.

Judge Lind explains to the gallery that ex parte filings are where only the judge get to see the motion.

There is a discussion concerning the defense filing a motion to compel discovery. The defense’s ex parte is for the filing and not the motion. This was clarified in Court discussion.

The defense motion to compel discovery was an enormous file when passed from Judge Lind to a hand hidden behind a cubical in front of Judge Lind’s bench.

Judge Lind asks Major Fein (Prosecution) if he wants to address the ex parte filing. Fein (prosecution) states that he has no objection.

[I believe Judge Lind then states that the Court will counsel on the ex parte filing.

Coombs (Defense) then brings up the matter of the Government not properly disclosing what evidence it will specifically use against Manning, as required under [ RCM 304(d)(1) if I am correct, and 311. This needs verification.] Coombs describes “how” evidence was provided to defense counsel by the Government. Coombs states that the bates ranges are not precise.

Coombs (Defense): There are 29 pages of bates numbers. Three pages of bates number ranges. The requirements are that the Government indicate the content…statements… (et cetera) that they will use. Giving ranges is not proper disclosure…also the requirement for the Government is to detail items seized, which the Government intends to introduce.

Fein (Prosecution) stands and states the Government has complied under RCM 304(d)(1). Fein mentions there are 41,821 documents.

Fein (Prosecution): …because of the amount of information…most efficient was [Government’s system of finding info].

Fein (Prosecution) states that the documents that the Government included contain statements from “AR from CID.” Fein states that there is “no meaningful way to identify these documents so we have ascribed bates numbers…there are 41,000 documents to look at those statements.” Fein states [if I am not mistaken] that the Government did not make exception for duplicates.

Fein (Prosecution): US provided individual pieces of seized property by item number from the chain of custody…by bates number…precisely what piece we intend to use.

Coombs (Defense): That is not the case. (gives two examples) …random samples…none of these indicate what the Government will introduced of the 29 pages of bates numbers. The Government should be forced to be clear on what statements…what evidence.

Judge Lind: It seems to comply. (Lind states that she will leave it open for review) Well I won’t say now.

Fein (Prosecution) then goes through a description of how seized items are identified.

Fein (Prosecution): We will provide as much clarity as we can.

Judge Lind tells defense that they can raise that issue (vis, the Government’s vague numbering system by bates numbers and lack of specificity) at another date.

Judge Lind then asks the prosecution and defense if they want to supplement the Court record regarding the RCM 802 meeting. Lind brings up seating plans.

Fein (Prosecution): Moment M’am…

Judge Lind: Yes.

Fein (Prosecution) brings up question of how documents will be marked.

Judge Lind states something regarding document marks and there being made part of the Appellate Exhibit record.

Next segment concerns filings by prosecution and defense, and Judge Lind’s entry of those filings into the Court record.

Defense lists its filings. They include: Case Management Order, Protective Order, Motion for Publicity, Motion to Compel Discovery, Motion to Compel Deposition, Bill of Particulars, Ex parte filing in supplement to Motion to Compel Discovery.

Judge Lind asks the defense about the Court Security Officer being introduced into the Court record of the trial. Lind then asks Government what they are filing.

Fein (Prosecution) lists filings: US Proposed Trial Calendar and Protective Order.

Judge Lind states that she will handle the filings and then take Pfc. Manning’s plea.

Judge Lind calls the Appellate Exhibit numbers and titles for each filings one through nine and then staples them. After each filing she passes it to a hand in a hidden cubicle in front of her bench. The hand passes them back to Lind. The hand belongs to a young thirty something African American woman in civilian garb who was present in the same location at the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing. [I did not write down the number of each corresponding filing. I do know that number nine was the defense’s ex parte filing for supplemental Motion to Compel Discovery.]

Next up Judge states that the defense requests an open file of email correspondence related and subsequent to the telephonic RCM 802 meeting on 8 February 2012.

Fein (Prosecution) stands and states he will keep a file.

Coombs (Defense) stands and states that defense would object to a trial schedule after June 2012 and that the Government suggested August 3, 2012. Coombs states that that his client has been in pretrial confinement for 635 days, and states how many days Manning will have been in confinement if the proceeding were to occur in August 2012. Coombs states, “Defense has already demanded a Speedy Trial several times. The Government is constantly citing the case’s novelty, scale, and difficulty coordinating various agencies.” Coombs then gives an example of when the Government’s turn around is 24 hours regarding its own interests. Coombs states the need for a timely progression and his client’s due process rights. Coombs concludes, “There is a problem.”

Fein (Prosecution) rises and mentions “realistic trial scheduling.”

Judge Lind asks if there is anything else before taking Pfc. Manning’s plea.

Coombs (Defense) stands and states that Pfc. Manning< will defer his plea.

Judge Lind orders the Court to recess till 15 or 16 2012. As Court closes, guards surround the front of the gallery blocking the public from Pfc. Manning. At that moment David Eberhart, from Code Pink, asks loudly, “Judge, isn’t a soldier required to report a war crime?”