Manning is accused by the U.S. government of leaking thousands of classified documents,diplomatic cables and battle videos to the Wikileaks website,which publishes secret government documents.
Monday’s witnesses included Army coworkers from the time Manning was stationed in Iraq and a transgender woman he befriended and confided his motives to in online chats.
At the beginning of the day,Manning’s defense filed a motion to have some of the charges against him dropped. Defense motions to dismiss charges at the end of the prosecution’s case are fairly common.
The judge has given the prosecution until Thursday to respond to the motion.
The courtroom was filled to capacity with Manning supporters,some of whom came from New York and California. There were 25 in the room and 36 in an overflow room when proceedings began.
Many wore matching black T-shirts with “truth” written in white and bright pink stickers that said “Free Bradley Manning.”
The trial began with what Wikileaks has called the “Collateral Murder” video – which Manning leaked to the site – that shows an Apache helicopter killing a group of Iraqis,most unarmed,and two Reuters journalists. Two children in the video are wounded.
“Well it’s their fault for bringing their kids to a battle,” a voice on the video is heard saying.
People in the crowd gasped at the most graphic moments. At the same time,on the other side of the courtroom,members of the prosecution’s staff sat in the second row reading newspapers.
The first witness called was Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Ehresman,who worked with Manning in Iraq.
Manning,he said,was the best intelligence analyst they had.
“The best,” he said. “That’s why he was our go-to guy.”
Ehresman was just a little too quick on a few answers,defense attorney David Coombs noted.
“Occasionally,” Coombs said,”and you’re doing fine,but you’re giving me a ‘yes,sir’ before I’ve had the chance to complete my question.”
“Yes,sir,” he said,after a longer pause.
Also testifying were Capt. Barclay Keay,Sgt. David Sadtler and Capt. Steven Lim,who testified about Manning’s interest in and concern with world events,specifically U.S. actions in Iraq.
“He had a deep concern for news and what was going on,” Sadtler said,”whereas others were just concerned with going on about their day.”
Sadtler wasn’t too interested in hearing it at the time,he testified.
The defense also called Lauren McNamera,formerly known as Zach Antolak. Manning reached out to her online after seeing her YouTube videos.
McNamera is a transgendered woman whose videos she said touched on things such as atheism,religion,politics and computer science – things that interested Manning.
“He often had interesting things to say,” she said. “He seemed to have well-informed and complex opinions.”
McNamera said Manning told her he wanted to leave the military and go into politics to make changes in the world.
In one of their chats,portions of which McNamera read in court,Manning told her he wanted to save lives.
McNamera said Manning – though troubled by some of its actions – still believed the U.S. Army was a force for good.
“While it wasn’t always perfect,he viewed it overall as a positive force,” she said.
The last witness of the day was retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis,who was expected to speak as an expert on assessments of prisoners at Guantanamo,which Manning also released to Wikileaks. Davis’ testimony is expected to continue Tuesday.
Reach reporter Memet Walker at [email protected] or 202-326-9867. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFwire.