By DAVID DISHNEAU AND ERIC TUCKER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
FORT MEADE, Md. — Pfc. Bradley Manning's court-martial over the leak of hundreds of thousands of classified documents has been all about secrecy and security, and his trial has taken on a cloak and dagger feel, too.
Large parts of the proceedings are expected to be closed to the public. Many documents have been withheld or heavily redacted. Photographers were blocked from getting a good shot of the soldier and even some of Manning's supporters had to turn their T-shirts inside out.
Military law experts say some of it is common for a court-martial, while other restrictions appear tailored to the extraordinary nature of the case, which has garnered an outpouring of support from whistleblowers, activists and others around the world.
"I think the judge is very concerned about not turning this trial into a theater, into a spectacle," said David J.R. Frakt, a military law expert at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer. "I cannot remember a situation where there was such a high degree of civilian interest, people not affiliated with the military, having intense and passionate interest in the outcome of the case."
Manning is charged under federal espionage and computer fraud laws, but the most serious offense the military has accused him of is aiding the enemy, which carries a life sentence. His supporters call him a hero; opponents say he is a traitor for leaking the material the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
A female soldier who was punched in the face by Manning was expected to be the next witness Wednesday. Jihrleah Showman was one of Manning's supervisors while he was an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2010. She testified at an earlier hearing that he punched her during one of several violent outbursts that she witnessed while serving in his unit both before and after their deployment.
The trial for the soldier from Crescent, Okla., began Monday under a barrage of heavy restrictions.
Manning supporters wearing "truth" T-shirts had to turn them inside out before entering the courtroom. The shirts were made by the Bradley Manning Support Network in early 2012 as an alternative to "Free Bradley Manning" T-shirts banned from early pretrial hearings, spokesman Nathan Fuller said.
The military allowed the shirts Tuesday. Army spokeswoman Col. Michelle Roberts said the earlier decision made "out of a concern for public safety and to remove a potential cause for disturbance among members of the public." She said leaders assessed the situation and decided they were OK.
Since the case began, reporters covering hearings have been asked to sign a document saying they would withhold the names of spokespeople on-site because the military said some people directly involved in the case had received death threats. The Associated Press signed the document to be allowed to cover the trial, but the news organization is protesting it.
Photographers looking to snap pictures of Manning on Monday missed the soldier leaving the courtroom because he was blocked by military police. On Tuesday, Manning was not surrounded.
The military also relaxed rules Tuesday about interviewing spectators outside the courtroom.
Courts-martial don't have a roadmap for guaranteeing public access like civilian courts, military law experts said.
The security in the Manning case appears determined to minimize distractions and maintain law-and-order – even if that means throwing up roadblocks to a public accustomed to transparency, experts said.
"I don't think it's good to turn the environs into an armed camp unless it is literally unavoidable," said Eugene Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale Law School. "People do occasionally act out in courtrooms, both spectators or witnesses or the accused, but I'm sure that the Army knows how to maintain order, and I'm not sure that it's necessary to do it with as heavy a hand as seems to be implied here."
Manning, 25, has admitted turning over hundreds of thousands of classified documents. His lawyer has called him a "young, naive but good-intentioned" soldier, but prosecutors say he put secrets directly into the hands of Osama bin Laden.
His trial, which is being heard by a judge instead of a jury, is expected to run all summer. Parts of it are expected to be closed.
At a pretrial hearing in April, the military judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, released written copies of two rulings to reporters. It was the first time since she got the case in February 2012 that she had made her written orders publicly available on a same-day basis.
The lack of public access to rulings and motions is being challenged in federal court by the Center for Constitutional Rights, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and a handful of journalists. Thirty news organizations, including the AP, plan to file a brief this week supporting the case.
In February, the military began releasing Lind's older rulings amid numerous Freedom of Information Act requests.
The court considers some documents so sensitive that they are stored off-site at locations in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia. They will remain there, and even any appellate judges would have to travel to locations such as the Central Intelligence Agency to read them.
Philip Cave, a retired Navy judge advocate general, said it's not uncommon for portions of military trials to be kept away from the public.
"Does that automatically mean that there's a lack of transparency or that there's kind of hiding the ball going on? I don't think you can argue that," said Cave, who is now a military defense lawyer. "Then again," he added, "I don't necessarily believe my government. I do think they over-classify things."
The military released about 550 documents Tuesday, including a photo of a noose Manning made from a bedsheet while he was being detained in Kuwait shortly after his arrest in May 2010.
The noose was presented as evidence at a hearing in December regarding Manning's confinement at a Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., to show why jailers there considered him a suicide threat.
For nine months, Manning was held alone in a windowless cell 23 hours a day, sometimes with no clothing. Lind later ruled Manning had been illegally punished and should get 112 days off any prison sentence he receives.
Army spokesman George Wright said there was "no specific trigger" for the release of documents, but the military had been working to process as many records as possible.
Tucker reported from Washington.
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Abuse Of Prisoners
As the <em>New York Times </em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/world/guantanamo-files-lives-in-an-american-limbo.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1" target="_hplink">reports</a>, Mohammed Qahtani -- a Saudi believed to have been an intended participant in the Sept. 11 attacks -- was subject to coercive questioning and other abuses during his interrogation. The cables describe Qahtani as being leashed like a dog, sexually humiliated and forced to urinate on himself. His file says, "Although publicly released records allege detainee was subject to harsh interrogation techniques in the early stages of detention," his confessions "appear to be true and are corroborated in reporting from other sources."
Arbitrary Nature Of Prison System
As <em>Le Monde</em> is <a href="http://www.worldcrunch.com/wikileaks-guantanamo-why-us-declared-iranian-catholic-drug-dealer-enemy-combatant" target="_hplink">reporting</a>, one "low-value" Iranian-Catholic detainee was kept in Guantanamo even after being deemed ready for release -- given his "cooperative nature" and in the interest of "possible financing relations" between Al Qaeda and traffickers. According to the cables, Abdul Majid Muhammed was deemed fit for release in 2002: "The detainee is not affiliated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban. He was involved in drug trafficking. It is unlikely that he represents a risk for the U.S. or its allies."
An Al Jazeera journalist was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/25/sami-al-hajj-al-jazeera-j_n_853297.html" target="_hplink">reportedly </a>held at Guantanamo Bay for six years partially so he could be interrogated about the network Sami al-Hajj, a Sudanese national and Al Jazeera cameraman, was captured in Pakistan in late 2001. Though he was never convicted or even tried of any terrorist ties, al-Hajj was held until 2008 because interrogators wanted to find out more about "the al-Jazeera news network's training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network's acquisition of a video of UBL [Osama bin Laden] and a subsequent interview with UBL," <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/guantanamo-files/US9SU-000345DP" target="_hplink">according</a> to the cables.
Violent Threats Against Captors
Some detainees are described as ruthlessly violent in the documents. As the <em>New York Times </em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/world/guantanamo-files-lives-in-an-american-limbo.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1" target="_hplink">reports</a>, one detainee said "he would like to tell his friends in Iraq to find the interrogator, slice him up, and make a shwarma (a type of sandwich) out of him, with the interrogator's head sticking out of the end of the shwarma." Another "threatened to kill a U.S. service member by chopping off his head and hands when he gets out," and informed a guard that "he will murder him and drink his blood for lunch. Detainee also stated he would fly planes into houses and prayed that President Bush would die."
New Details On Post-9/11 Al Qaeda Whereabouts
As the<em> Washington Post</em> <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/wikileaks-discloses-new-details-on-whereabouts-of-al-qaeda-leaders-on-911/2011/04/24/AFvvzIeE_story_2.html" target="_hplink">reports</a>, the documents describe a major gathering of some of Al Qaeda's most senior operatives in early December 2001. They included Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged planner of the USS Cole attack; and Abu Faraj al-Libbi, a key facilitator for bin Laden. After returning to Karachi, Mohammed "put together a training program for assassinations and kidnappings as well as pistol and computer training."
"Nuclear Hellstorm' Threat
The leaked files<a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h9ouUwZB0vhDcEsGB8N2uVcvGFqQ?docId=CNG.e738123e4ccce6019851c695501ca633.9e1" target="_hplink"> indicate</a> Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told Guantanamo Bay interrogators that Al Qaeda had hidden a nuclear bomb in Europe which will unleash a "nuclear hellstorm" if Osama bin Laden is captured or killed. The terror group also planned to make a 9/11 style attack on London's Heathrow airport by crashing a hijacked airliner into one of the terminals, the files showed.
The <em>Washington Post</em><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/wikileaks-discloses-new-details-on-whereabouts-of-al-qaeda-leaders-on-911/2011/04/24/AFvvzIeE_story_2.html" target="_hplink"> reports</a> Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged planner of the USS Cole attack, "received injections to promote impotence" to avoid being distracted by women, and "recommended the injections to others so more time could be spent on the jihad."
Prisoner Details And Ranking System
Gitmo detainees are <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/wikileaks-discloses-new-details-on-whereabouts-of-al-qaeda-leaders-on-911/2011/04/24/AFvvzIeE_story.html" target="_hplink">reportedly</a> assessed "high," "medium" or "low" in terms of their intelligence value, the threat they pose while in detention and the continued threat they might pose to the United States if released. As Reuters<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/25/guantanamo-files-detainees_n_853309.html" target="_hplink"> reports</a>, most of the 172 remaining prisoners have been rated as a "high risk" of posing a threat to the United States and its allies if released without adequate rehabilitation and supervision.
Gitmo authorities named Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency a "terrorist organization" along with Hamas and other international militant networks, according to leaked documents. As the Associated Press <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/25/pakistan-intelligence-terror-links-guantanamo_n_853274.html" target="_hplink">reports</a>, the ISI is part of a list that includes more than 60 international militant networks, as well as Iran's intelligence services, that are "terrorist" entities or associations and say detainees linked to them "may have provided support to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, or engaged in hostilities against U.S. and coalition forces."