PFC Bradley Manning is in Fort Meade today for his first hearing on charges that he leaked evidence of American war crimes in Iraq as well as thousands of diplomatic cables to Wikileaks. The government has moved to deny Manning’s defense, Lt David Coombs, to produce any witnesses and Coombs has filed a response as wells as moved to remove one of the investigating officers. This is Manning’s first public appearance in a year and a half.
FORT MEADE, Md. — The defense attorney for suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning opened a pre-trial hearing on Friday morning with a bang — by calling for the investigating officer presiding over the hearing to recuse himself, immediately forcing the proceeding into recess while the government prepares a response and the officer reviews the details of the motion.
Defense attorney David E. Coombs called on Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, a reserve military judge who also works as a prosecutor for the Justice Department, to recuse himself on several grounds including bias and conflict of interest.
Almanza was appointed the investigating officer in August 2010, but has worked as a career prosecutor with the DoJ since 2002 until until Dec. 12 this year, when he went on reservist military leave to devote himself to the Manning case.
Coombs said that Almanza’s position with the Justice Department is a conflict of interest, given that the Justice Department has an open criminal investigation into wrongdoing conducted by WikiLeaks and has not ruled out the possibility that it could also jump in on the military case against Manning.