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WikiLeaks: Pretrial Hearing For Bradley Manning Ends

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The pretrial hearing for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, charged with giving U.S. secrets to WikiLeaks, ended Tuesday.

Defense attorney David Coombs was the first to offer closing summations. During his two-hour argument, Coombs painted a portrait of a military system of confinement gone wrong. He argued that commanding officers in charge of overseeing operations at the brig in Quantico, Va. "abused discretion" and maintained a higher level of confinement than was necessary for the Army private.

Coombs singled out Gen. George Flynn, who kept tabs on Manning's time in Quantico and urged the brig commander there to "keep a close eye on him." Coombs also recalled the testimony of doctors who stated that Manning's emotional profile did not justify keeping him on suicide watch or "prevention of injury" status.

Coombs argued some of the staff led by General George Flynn was so concerned about possible negative publicity about Manning's confinement that they became, "risk averse to the point of being absurd." 

Later, Coombs' prosecution counterpart, Maj. Ashden Fein, argued that testimony revealed that because Manning showed signs of emotional instability early on, brig handlers thought it best to keep him on prevention of injury status, despite doctors' recommendation that his terms of confinement be normalized.

At one point, the prosecutor conceded that Manning might have been on suicide watch too long. 

There is no jury in this military proceeding, so the final decision on whether to dismiss all or some of the 22 charges against Manning will be made by the judge, Col. Denise Lind, sometime in February. The judge could also rule in favor of Manning on the confinement issue but not dismiss all the charges and simply give him credit for time served off his eventual sentence.

If charges remain, the court martial is expected to begin sometime in March.

The offenses for which Manning are charged carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

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