Coombs, Manning's defense attorney, offered an alternative view of the leak, saying that "history will be the judge" of the security breach.

"Sunlight has always been the best disinfectant," he said.

The attorney accused government officials — including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — of having a "Chicken Little" response to the leaks. He challenged Clinton to "come into this courtroom and say" if the leaks caused harm.

The defense also offered more details of Manning's emotional duress, reading from a letter Manning sent to his supervisor. In the letter, Manning said he joined the Army to fight concerns he had about his masculinity and to chase off signs of gender identity disorder.

"This is my problem," Manning wrote. "I've had signs of it for a long time. … I've been trying to get rid of it. …. It is the cause of my pain and confusion."

Though sent when the government prohibited gays from serving in the military, the supervisor did not reply to the letter.

"It is the military lack of response that smacks in the face of justice," Coombs said.

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