RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Galindez writes: "The theme of the defense witnesses today was a dysfunctional chain of command that ignored behavioral issues associated with Bradley Manning."

Today's testimony revealed that until Bradley Manning punched Specialist Showman, shown testifying above earlier in the trial, none of Manning's behavioral issues were reported to the company commander. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN)
Today's testimony revealed that until Bradley Manning punched Specialist Showman, shown testifying above earlier in the trial, none of Manning's behavioral issues were reported to the company commander. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN)

Manning Defense Exposes a Dysfunctional Chain of Command

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

12 August 13


RSN Special Coverage: Trial of Bradley Manning

rsn fr splash promo


radley Manning's defense team called their first sentencing phase witnesses on Monday but not before Judge Lind addressed a video that shows the inside of the courtroom. The video, which opens with the voice of Daniel Ellsberg and closes with supporters chanting "Free Bradley Manning," was apparently recorded in the public overflow trailer. The judge announced that security measures in the public entrance would be increased. She also thanked most of the media and the public for following the rules.

The Bradley Manning Support Network was very critical of the leaked video, pointing out that the March leak of Manning's one hour testimony was accompanied by a statement in which the leaker took full responsibility and stated that no organization was behind that leak. The Army is still investigating and to date has not made an arrest.

Many on twitter feared the j­udge would place more restrictions on the media.

The latest footage was published online by Asher Wolf, the pseudonym used by an Australian activist-journalist. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Ms. Wolf defended herself against the Twitter backlash, warning Manning supporters not to "shoot the messenger."

"If they do shut down the press pool it would be indicative of the state of freedom of press in America. No journalist should have to fear the simple act of doing their job," she said, adding that the footage gave the public their first look inside the court during a "historic case."

The theme of the defense witnesses was a dysfunctional chain of command that ignored behavioral issues associated with Bradley Manning.

Col. David Miller was the first witness called by the defense. He was the brigade commander and part of the team that reviewed Manning's unit prior to deployment. Miller testified that there was a shortage of intelligence analysts but there was no pressure to deploy un-deployable soldiers. He painted Manning's unit as one with leadership problems.

Major Clifford Clausen was removed from his command during the deployment. Clausen was replaced by a captain as the unit's S2 officer. Miller testified that Clausen was not up to providing the unit with adequate intelligence. The S2 staff mission is to provide command and Army/ground forces with actionable and tailored intelligence in support of information operations. The S2 officer is in charge of the unit.

Manning's company commander, Major Dreher, was relieved of his duty for "not being truthful about property reports" in the December-January time frame of 2009-2010.

Coombs then asked about Master Sgt. Paul David Adkins, who testified during the trial that he had memory issues prior to deployment resulting from a head injury in 2004. Adkins also faced a reduction in rank and lost his position.

Col. Miller said the brigade had 300 mental health referrals during the brigade's deployment in Iraq and around 25 were ordered by the command. Miller approved 16 removals from deployment for mental health issues.

Following Manning's arrest, Col. Davis was involved in a review of the procedures in Manning's unit. Safeguards were put in place to limit removal of discs and removable devices from the SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility). Other safeguards were put in place that were not in place prior to Manning's arrest.

Lt. Col. Brian Kerns was the executive officer for Manning's Brigade. He also testified that Clausen and Adkins were weak leaders. In a report after Manning's arrest, Kerns wrote that ideally Clausen and Adkins should both have not deployed in command roles. There were discussions prior to deployment on replacing Clausen but not Adkins. Kerns testified that Sgt. Kyle Balonek was the lone experienced strong leader among the NCOs in Manning's unit.

Company commander Major Elijah Dreher testified that he had not been informed that Manning turned over a table or reached for a weapon during a counseling session. He was surprised to have not heard about such serious incidents.

Major Clausen, the S-2, testified that he knew Manning was receiving mental health counseling prior to deployment. Clausen also testified that Master Sgt. Adkins had brought concerns about Manning to Major Dreher, the company commander at the time, who testified that he never was informed. Clausen was reprimanded for allowing Adkins to develop the command structure in the S2 even though he found him to be a below average leader.

Captain Matthew Freeburg replaced Dreher as the company commander in January of 2010. He was the commanding officer who responded to the fight between Manning and Specialist Showman by pulling Manning from the SCIF and assigning him to the supply room. This was the first disciplinary action taken against Manning, despite other incidents that superiors testified they would have acted on if they had been informed.

Captain Michael Johnson was the collection officer for the S2 shop in Iraq. Master Sgt. Adkins told Johnson that he was not to deal with the enlisted soldiers. Johnson testified that both Clausen and Adkins were not enforcing standards, and that there was no clear delineation of responsibilities in the S2 section. Johnson testified that Adkins told him he was handling Manning, and Clausen agreed that Adkins could handle everything. Johnson also testified that intelligence analysts were high maintenance - that they always felt they were smarter than their superior officers and regularly questioned authority.

The final witness, Lt. Elizabeth Fields, testified that she once stated that there was no accounting for CDs going in and out of the SCIF in Iraq, and that when she was the security officer before deployment, there was. She also testified that she asked Adkins what was being done about Manning's behavior and he told her to "stay in her lane," and that Manning was an enlisted man.

Following an evidentiary ruling the court recessed until 9:30 a.m.

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott will be spending a year covering the presidential election from Iowa.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+33 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-12 19:25
Dysfunctional Chain of Command, indeed.

From the top down.

And we citizens are Constitutionall y at the very top of this chain.
+17 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-12 19:27
P. S. It should be obvious to one and all now that we citizens give our public servants far more power and material wealth than they can responsibly manage.

Is this for some reason other than our lack of sufficient guidance in how they are to conduct themselves and complete the tasks we assign them?

If so, what?
+5 # kochadoodledoo 2013-08-13 04:56
You should start a petition to decrease the salaries of legislators.
+6 # wrknight 2013-08-13 07:48
Absolutely! The chain of command is totally dysfunctional starting with the way we select our "leaders" and continuing on in the way in which we monitor and supervise our "leaders".

The Constitution places the public at the top of the chain of command. That infers that the public should chose its public servants wisely, monitor and supervise their actions and discipline them accordingly when they fail to act in the public interest.

Do we do that? I can't even count the number of people I know who can't even identify their own members of Congress.
+8 # wrknight 2013-08-13 08:22
Somewhere along the line we have accustomed ourselves to referring to our elected officials as "leaders" which implies that they should lead. I think we have this backwards. Our elected officials are supposed to be public servants and serve the public. Maybe, if we stop calling them "leaders" and call them "public servants", the mind set will change and people will start paying more attention to their servants.
+10 # tomtom 2013-08-12 22:30
Personally, I'ld Feel much safer, With more monitoring of our "leaders". Not feeding our own people is just one example.
+14 # unitedwestand 2013-08-12 23:52
Reading this made me think of the book, Catch 22. Not for what has become a classical meme (Damned if you do, damned if you don't) but for the dichotomy it reveals of our assumed belief of the function and behavior in the military, (we like to think that those in charge will always know and do the right thing) but for how it proves that dysfunction has always been the norm.
+12 # rradiof 2013-08-13 00:06
Huh? Compare this show trial to Nuremberg and you will acknowledge the difference between justice and lynching. Over and out.
+31 # AndJustice4All 2013-08-13 00:28
The military industrial complex operates under a shadowy veil of fear and secrecy. When a Manning or Snowden drops the 'truth bomb' the system hemorrhages and accuses the messenger of crimes under the espionage act. These courageous whistle blowers are crucified for the sins of the empire. The absurdities of war ultimately brings out the truth that it's a rotten business.
+3 # keenon the truth 2013-08-13 05:16
How is this good for Private Manning's defense?

Confused in Tokyo
0 # Scott Galindez 2013-08-13 07:07
It sets up the next phase of the defense,,,From day 1 Coombs has painted Manning as a troubled young man...testimony will come out today as to his mental state at the time of the leaks and prior to the leaks. The argument is Manning should have lost his clearance before the leaks. The leaks came when Manning was desperate and they could have been prevented, if the chain of command paid attention to Manning's actions.

His motives were to inspire a national debate, but prior to both his treatment and the events he witnessed he wanted to influence his superior officers...It was a combination of his treatment and what he witnessed that led him to leak.
+1 # keenon the truth 2013-08-13 12:58
Sounds to me like you are one with the prosecution.You are belittling Manning 's sacrifice. I wonder what YOUR personal issues are?
+7 # fredboy 2013-08-13 07:05
The chain of command violates the basic principles of justice espoused in our Constitution and all of the great faiths. It is ripe with opportunities for abuse, corruption, and injustice. It also promotes wrongdoing and coverups, as punishment is focused not on the wrongdoers but on those who expose them. A very, very, very corrupt and perverse system.
+2 # Scott Galindez 2013-08-13 07:09
Also we are in the sentencing phase so anything that might lead to the judge reducing his sentence is beneficial now.
+5 # Jack Gibson 2013-08-13 08:03
So basically Coombs' "defense" is the "pity defense", and throwing Manning on the mercy of the court. What mercy? The U.S. military isn't about mercy. If it was, we would only be involved in truly defensive wars, and not aggressive and/or vengeance wars. But there's little or no mercy to be found in the U.S. military, and in this "court-of-railr oading". They prevented Coombs from putting on the at least closer to true defense that he should have been able to put on. Thus, you may buy into this so-called "defense" that Coombs is now putting on, but I don't. I hope I'm proven totally wrong, and have all of the egg in the world on my face, for Manning's sake.

As much as there may be some truth to the "blame-the-mili tary" 'defense', it's not going to fly with a military court, with a career military, ambitious judge who is under a great deal of pressure to throw the book at Manning and essentially lock him up for life. I sympathize with the case Coombs was dealt, and that his hands were tied again and again and again, but this last ditch "defense" looks very lame from where I'm sitting. And with it, he's not helping Manning, he's helping to seal his downfall as far as I'm concerned. Manning has put his trust in the wrong team; and, if I'd been him, I would have peremptorily challenged Coombs and the entire "defense" team a long time ago, and got them removed from the case. Undoubtedly, somebody much better to defend him probably would have come forward. As it is, he's screwed.
-1 # Scott Galindez 2013-08-13 12:10
I think Coombs defense is the truth...Bradley was having a hard time with both anger issues and gender issues. Why would Coombs not raise the issues in his defense?
+3 # Jack Gibson 2013-08-13 17:09
It has no place in his "defense"; except perhaps in the prosecution's arsenal if they had so chosen to use it to make their case. Thus, by Coombs using it, he is aiding the prosecution, which he has appeared to be doing several times during the trial. Like "Keenon the Truth" said above, this "pro-prosecutio n 'defense'" belittles Manning's sacrifice. And, not only that, it makes what he did to fulfill his DUTY to report war crimes, look like "irresponsibili ty"; like, because he was allegedly so "emotionally unstable", he supposedly "couldn't do the right thing", "was doing what he did for purely selfish reasons, and not to do what was right", etc. Depending upon all of these "defense" arguments of his alleged instability, reflects very badly on Bradley and his motives, and makes him look like "nothing but a mentally ill 'criminal'". That is not a defense, it is nothing but a last ditch effort to ameliorate his foregone conviction; and, as I said before, it is probably not going to work anyway.

Oh, I think Judge Lind might knock decades off Bradley's sentence, but the sentence that remains after all is said and done, will likely be essentially what amounts to a "life sentence" for him anyway. And, like I said in another article thread on this topic, even though his "defense" team may be depending upon raising "errors" to be used on appeal, to thus ameliorate his conviction and/or his sentence after the fact, that's not likely to work either; so they're aiding in his demise.
+1 # Jack Gibson 2013-08-15 05:42
I'm now disgusted with the whole thing, having heard that Manning just "apologized" for "hurting the U.S." in order to show so-called "remorse". How dishonest when he didn't hurt the U.S. at all, only did what was right, and didn't do anything wrong. All of this getting him to admit "guilt" is doing nothing but hurting his case and assuring that he'll get decades in prison for simply being a whistleblower. And this has been Coombs' game plan from the beginning; thus, again, what kind of so-called "defense" is that?! It's a sham "defense", that's what it is!! In addition, it's making me lose respect for Bradley because he's willing to go along with being so dishonest and again admit to something that isn't true. He never should have plead guilty to ANYTHING!! Remorse, my arse!! What a not funny joke!! People are darned if they do, and darned if they don't, admit guilt. If they admit guilt, they'll have the book thrown at them; and, if they don't admit guilt, they'll have the book thrown at them anyway for not showing remorse. They're fracked either way!! Any chance(s) that Judge Lind is going to go easy on Manning are slim to none; so all of this dishonest posturing is, again, just harming his case, and/or very likely not helping it.

Coombs reminds me of a typical public defender in some of the way(s) that he has handled Bradley's case. He has sold his client out to the state for fifteen minutes of fame. And this case will likely make him a millionaire attorney eventually.
+1 # Jack Gibson 2013-08-19 03:47
Having reflected further on the news of Manning's confession, I now realize that from the torture and breaking that he underwent for three years, and particularly during his first year in confinement, he is a broken man. Thus, I'm no longer tempted to lose respect for him; because, due to the government having made him a husk of the man he formerly was, he is not responsible for his actions since he was broken.

As I've said in other threads, he was in a sense "Manchurianized ". His brain was turned into "mush" and he was programmed to give up, to now bow down, and to now prostrate himself before the evil fate that the government has set for him. Prior to this brainwashing of him, I don't believe he would have capitulated as he now has, and that he would not be the meek, "humbled", subservient person that he now is, but that he wasn't before the process of breaking him that they put him through.

Therefore, this poor, pitiful victim that Manning now is, cannot possibly be responsible for his actions after the "Manchurianizin g" brainwashing, or "washing-of-bra ins", ordeal that he has gone through; which was intended to, and has succeeded in, completely breaking him and making him entirely compliant to all of the forces, including his "defense" team, that are seeking to, and are succeeding in, destroying him. He cannot be held responsible for any of that, because he's no longer the independent, defiant individualist that he was before the government thoroughly broke him.
+2 # keenon the truth 2013-08-13 13:01
I am so with you,Mr. Gibson.
+5 # jwb110 2013-08-13 11:35
This all volunteer Armed Forces doesn't work. Under the old draft system felons were not allowed to be enlisted. They are in this "new" Army now. Pervious mental health issues were noted as potential 4F status. The standards were higher under the draft system.
Had the draft been in effect when the Iraq War was being promoted the chances are we might not have gone into the region. When the entire population is affected public opinion counts. The draft won 2 World Wars so lets look at it again. A large and varied sample of citizens demand more of their superiors than the lock step volunteers.
The draft brought a more varied sense of morality and ethic. Those men lived in all sorts of communities and made their job real in a way that the volunteer army does not.
Oddly enough the draft might be the best chance for peace to prevail.
+6 # Farafalla 2013-08-13 14:38
If we had a draft there might not have been an Iraq war. The volunteer army preys on the desperate need many have to get out of their economic situation. So they recruit in economically depressed areas and take in most who want the army as a ticket out of unemployment and marginalization . When the children of the middle class have to go to war, the public focus on that war is much different than it has been in the present. We did not have to support the "war on terror" for there to be a "war on terror."
+2 # tedrey 2013-08-14 08:41
It makes you wonder whether we might be better off drafting not only our military but also our Congressmen and our President. Those who volunteer are in it for the power and the money; we'd be better off finding capable people who don't want the job and making them do it. We could hardly be worse off. Just fantasizing.
+3 # Paul Scott 2013-08-13 15:22
Since politicians (both parties) will not enforce the rule of law, we are a nation adrift, with each administration ruling it’s will. This government left unregulated, by the voters, will implode into what I believe is Corporatism. If the day comes that the Secretary of the Treasury walks into the Oval Office and says Mr/Ms President we do not have the money to pay the bills is the day we start assimilating into whatever? I do not see an orderly transition and neither does the police departments; they are all Para-military units now, trained to beat the hell out of the public by determining any gathering over two is terrorism.
+6 # Merschrod 2013-08-13 16:20
This ia a window into the dysfuctional command, basically incompetents who probably have moved up from levels of competence to where they are over their head, is a major leak in itself - no wonder they want to avoid public trials! Can we assume that this is one of those "bad apples" case? Rank after rank, change in comand after change in command, the habitual class struggle between the enlisted ranks and the commissioned officer ranks, and so forth. For those of you who have not served in the military, this is a sad view of the struggle that goes on.

Yes, it should be a defensive force, but that will not change the inherent weakness in moving through the ranks and of the class system institutionaliz ed in the armed forces.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.