FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — Lawyers for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning opened their case Monday in the sentencing phase of his trial by attacking commanders' decisions to send the young intelligence analyst to Iraq and let him keep his top-secret security clearance despite emotional outbursts and concerns about his mental health.
Manning faces up to 90 years in prison for disclosing reams of classified information through the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. His lawyers are presenting evidence in hopes of a lighter sentence.
Manning's brigade commander, Col. David Miller, testified the 2nd Brigade's 10th Mountain Division deployed in late 2009 with 10 to 15 percent fewer intelligence analysts than the authorized number. But Miller denied feeling any pressure to take soldiers who should not have deployed.
"In a counterinsurgency fight, you can always use more," he said.
Miller's executive officer Lt. Col. Brian Kerns said he had concerns before deployment about the leadership abilities of Maj. Clifford Clausen, who headed the brigade's intelligence branch. Clausen was removed from the position in early 2010 because of his failure to effectively communicate intelligence findings to commanders, Kerns and Miller testified.
Kerns said every Army unit goes to war with the assets and resources it has at the time.
"I think it was the right decision at the time to move forward with the individuals that we had because we didn't have anything better at the time that we could turn to," he said.
Kerns and Clausen both testified that they received letters of reprimand as a result of an Army investigation into Manning's actions. They are among 15 people disciplined in the case.
One of Manning's co-workers, Sgt. Daniel Padgett, has testified about sitting down with Manning for a "counseling session" after the soldier was late for work in Iraq.
When Padgett tried to impress on Manning the importance of being on time, "his demeanor changed," the former supervisor testified. He said Manning then stood up and overturned a table, spilling a radio and computer onto the floor.
Padgett said he moved Manning away from a gun rack while someone else restrained him until he calmed down. Padgett said he didn't remember reporting what happened to his supervisors.
Manning, a 25-year-old native of Crescent, Okla., gave more than 700,000 documents and some battlefield video to WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. He was convicted July 30 of 20 counts, including six federal Espionage Act violations, five theft counts, and a federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act charge.
Manning says he leaked the material to expose wrongdoing and provoke discussion about U.S. military and diplomatic affairs.