By Annie Linskey, The Baltimore Sun
6:11 PM EST, December 21, 2011
Two witnesses for Pfc. Bradley Manning described a chaotic work environment with lax supervision as the defense presented its case Wednesday for the former security analyst charged with turning over classified documents to WikiLeaks.
Both witnesses worked with Manning in Iraq. They testified to an office environment where those working with classified information listened to music, watched movies and played computer games in the secured areas.
The lawyers defending Manning rested their case after calling the two witnesses; they had requested nearly three dozen others but the court would not allow the testimony. The parties agreed to reconvene Thursday morning for closing arguments.
It was the fifth day of testimony in a preliminary hearing to determine whether Manning should face a court-martial for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy website. He is charged with aiding the enemy and violating the Espionage Act. The presiding officer, Army Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, has a Jan. 16 deadline for making his recommendation.
The defense has not seriously challenged the evidence showing that Manning had access to the classified documents and had the ability to upload them to WikiLeaks. Instead, the lawyers have sought to portray Manning as a deeply conflicted soldier struggling with gender identity in an understaffed, poorly supervised and stressful base south of Baghdad.
Sgt. Daniel Padgett, who worked with Manning in their "sensitive compartmented information facility" in Iraq, said there was no clear chain of command. "There could have been more oversight," Padgett said.
Government prosecutors asked only a few questions, establishing that as a member of the U.S. armed forces, Padgett was aware that sharing secret documents was wrong. "Every soldier, especially a solder with security clearance, has a responsibility to safeguard classified information," Padgett said.
Next up was Capt. Barclay Keay, who was in charge of both Manning and Padgett in Iraq in the fall of 2009. Keay explained that the post was his first as an intelligence supervisor, and he was surprised by the loose environment.
"I thought it was kind of odd," Keay said.
At the end of the hearing, Manning was asked if he wanted to make a statement. He replied: "No, sir."
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