Manning’s sexual orientation is raised at military hearing

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A former platoon sergeant testified that Manning knew from training he shouldn’t give classified information to people not authorized to have it. That witness, now retired Sgt. First Class Brian Madrid, said by phone from Arizona that he also had to give Manning “corrective training” in 2008 after Manning prepared a video for his family of himself talking about his daily life.

Madrid said Manning had used words in the video like “top secret” and “classified.” And while he didn’t reveal any secrets, those words could identify him as a person with a high-level security clearance and make him a target of those would want to compromise him.

During its cross examination of Graham, the Army criminal investigator, Manning’s defense team also sought to convince the court that not all of the material he is accused of leaking is classified.

Graham, who collected evidence from Manning’s living quarters and workplace, testified that among the items seized was a DVD marked “secret” that contained a military video showing the 2007 incident in which Apache attack helicopters gunned down unarmed men in Iraq.

The video was taken from the cockpit of one the helicopters. WikiLeaks posted the video in April 2010, sparking questions about the military’s rules of engagement and whether more needed to be done to prevent civilian casualties. The gunners can be heard laughing and referring to the men as “dead bastards.”

Kemkes asked Graham whether she knew the video was unclassified. She said she didn’t. “In fact, it was an unclassified video,” Kemkes said.

At the time the video was posted by WikiLeaks, the Pentagon called it a breach of national security and it was believed to be secret.

Although WikiLeaks had been posting sensitive information to the Web since 2006, release of the Apache video drew worldwide attention to the organization as it prepared to publish secret documents on the war in Afghanistan.

Manning’s appearances Friday and Saturday in the Fort Meade courtroom mark the first time he has been seen in public after 19 months in detention. The Oklahoma native comes to court in Army camouflage fatigues and wearing dark-rimmed glasses. Manning sat calmly in the courtroom Saturday without appearing to react to the testimony, even when centered on his troubled mental state and homosexuality. Manning listened intently and regularly took notes.

An Army appeals court on Friday rejected a defense effort to have the presiding officer, Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, because of alleged bias. Separately, lawyers for WikiLeaks and founder Julian Assange are asking the military’s highest appeals court to guarantee two seats in the Fort Meade courtroom.

Manning’s hearing is open to the public, with limited seating. Inside the courtroom, no civilian recording equipment is allowed. Instead of a judge, a presiding officer delivers a recommendation as to whether prosecutors have enough evidence to bring a suspect to trial. A military commander then makes the final decision.

The case has spawned an international support network of people who believe the U.S. government has gone too far in seeking to punish Manning.

More than 100 people gathered outside Fort Meade for a march in support of Manning, some holding signs declaring “Americans have the right to know. Free Bradley Manning” and “Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime.”

Todd Anderson, 64, said he drove from New York City to take part. “I think this man showed a great deal of courage, the kind of thing I wouldn’t have the courage to do, and I really consider him to be a hero,” Anderson said.

Juline Jordan, 46, said she flew in from Detroit just for the day. “I support what he did because he exposed some horrific war crimes and horrific things done at the hands of the United States government and the Department of Defense, and he’s a hero for that,” Jordan said.

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