December 16, 2011, midday

David Edward Coombs, the civilian attorney for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning who is facing life without parole for having leaked classified data to WikiLeaks, asked the presiding officer at the Section 35 hearing, Army Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, to recuse himself because of bias. Coombs argues Almanza, a Justice Department prosecutor, is biased for having denied Manning the right to call any witnesses on his behalf other than those, the government will call, except for perhaps 2 witnesses who Almanza may allow the defense to call. In particular Coombs asserts that Almanza will not allow the “original classification authorities” to testify as witnesses, choosing instead to allow their unsworn statements into evidence. Coombs contends these witnesses made the decision to classify as secret the matters Wikileaks published, and there is a question of why the leaked material was classified. It appears, that at least part of the Manning materials, were classified after they were released. In fact, the government's own reviews of the leaks concluded that little damage was done.  Finally, Coombs questioned why a Justice Department prosecutor is handling this military case. Almanza was a DOJ career prosecutor since 2002 until he took reservist leave on December 12, 2011 to take on the Manning case. Coombs argued that Almanza as a DOJ prosecutor has a conflict of interest, because of the DOJ’s continuing criminal investigation into Wikileaks, the publisher of material Manning leaked, and that the DOJ could also prosecute Manning in the future.

In response to Coombs attack, Almanza refused to recuse himself and defended his own impartiality, stating he has not talked to DOJ personnel about the Manning case and that he is not a prosecutor, but works for the DOJ’s child exploitation and obscenity division on policy and legislation. Midnight asks, What does child exploitation and obscenity have to do with the Manning case?  Is there an subtext here? Was the data Manning leaked connected to child porn? It seems absurd that a person with Almanza’s background is handling a hearing of this magnitude, unless there is some connection, some underlying military obscenity-type scandal. Computers and the use of encryption are integral to the trillion dollar flow of pornography around the world -- perhaps Almanza knows about that.

Coombs had readied a writ of appeal for the Army Court of Appeals to obtain Almanza’s recusal, despite Almanza's refusal to step down.

 Coombs is aiming at proving that Manning was mentally disturbed at the time, that he was not under proper command, and that the materials were unclassified and that leaking them did not harm national security. In addition, Coombs is taking the position that Manning was severely punished while in 18 months of pre-trial solitary confinement custody. Coombs filed a witness list requesting the attendance at the Section 32 hearing, of CID agents, persons who provided mental health care to Manning, including Mental Health Providers at the Quantico Confinement Facility. Coombs justified his list by stating some of these witnesses would testify to the “breakdown in command and control, the decision to deploy PFCX Manning and the decision not to suspend his security clearance earlier”. The government objected stating the testimony of these witnesses is “not relevant to the Article 32 investigation and will only serve to distract from the relevant issues.” In fact, the government objected to every listed witness by the defense that is not also on the government's list. Coombs cited R.C.M. 405 for the proposition that the accused has the right to present evidence at an Article 32 in defense, mitigation and extenuation.

From the witness list, it appears Coombs wants to present testimony regarding the total breakdown in command and control within the S-2 Section and the multiple failures by the unit to take basic steps in response to clear mental health issues being suffered by PFC Manning. This could be a mitigating factor. Coombs also contends at whether PFC Manning was unlawfully punished prior to trial is a relevant matter for the hearing officer to consider.

The Manning hearing is taking place at Fort Mead, Maryland, home to the U .S. Cyber Command, which is supposed to protect computer networks, such as the one from which Manning leaked materials to Wikileaks. The military must save face here as to why it failed to supervise a young mentally unbalanced Private in order to prevent the leaks and as to why it failed to stop the leaks and Manning earlier, and as to whether or not it has sufficient control over its own classified information.  What control can it have, given the modern milieu of world-wide hackers who are obviously often more capable that the government technies who are supposed to prevent the hacks. Manning a low-level intelligence soldier in Baghdad was able to leak to Wikileaks, among other things, Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, State Department cables and a classified military video of a 2007 American helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 11 men, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

Meanwhile, a Virginia grand jury has been convened for over a year regarding a possible indictment of Julian Assange for publishing Manning’s material on his website Wikileaks. Assange’s website is under a U.S. financial embargo and Assange is in London appealing extradition to Sweden regarding sex charges leveled against him there.

Assange’s lawyer have requested access to the Manning hearings.

In about eight days, the Fort Meade Hearing is expected to result in a recommendation to Army Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, commander of the Military District of Washington, who will decide whether Manning will be court-martialed, or dismissal of some or all of the 22 counts against him, or suffer mere administrative punishment .

For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry (excerpt, Jubilate Agno)
by Christopher "Kit" Smart  1959

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider'd God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day's work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord's poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually--Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master's bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God's light about him both wax and fire.
For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, tho he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.

                                                                       Delacroix - Tigers