Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Manning’s Article 32 hearing Friday (expected to last about a week) is to determine whether he should be court martialed. The hearing will be held at Fort Meade, Md.
Manning’s civilian attorney is David Coombs, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves who spent 12 years on active duty in the judge advocate corps.
Mr. Coombs hopes to show that the Army did not adequately monitor Manning’s erratic behavior – at one point the bolt reportedly was removed from his weapon, making it inoperable – and that the leaked information may have been politically and diplomatically embarrassing but it wasn't all that harmful to national security.
That’s why Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is on his list of requested witnesses. She has been quoted as saying that the leaked documents “did not represent significant consequences to foreign policy.”
Also on Coombs’s witness wish list is President Obama, the US commander in chief and Manning’s superior. Coombs will argue that Obama prejudiced the case when he said last year that Manning “broke the law.”
It is unlikely that either Secretary Clinton or Mr. Obama will testify. The government is opposing all requested defense witnesses except for the 10 witnesses also requested by the government.
Manning’s case has generated worldwide interest and in some cases protest – particularly for the many months he was held in solitary confinement. It’s the largest and most controversial case involving WikiLeaks, the self-styled whistle-blower website that released to several newspapers the hundreds of thousands of cables, videos, and other information allegedly provided by Manning.