At Manning Hearing, Investigator Refuses to Recuse Himself
A defense lawyer for Bradley Manning, the Army private accused in the most famous leak of government secrets since the Pentagon Papers, began a frontal attack during Private Manning’s first court appearance here on Friday morning, claiming that the Army’s investigating officer at the evidentiary hearing was biased and should recuse himself from the case.
The lawyer, David Coombs, said that Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, the investigating officer who works as a Justice Department prosecutor in civilian life, was preventing the defense from calling witnesses to show that little harm was done by the disclosure of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents provided to WikiLeaks.
“All this stuff has been leaked,” Mr. Coombs said. “A year and a half later, where’s the danger? Where’s the harm?”
Colonel Almanza declined to remove himself from the case, saying he did not currently supervise criminal cases in his job at the Justice Department, which involves child abuse and obscenity, not national security. He said he had no involvement in a separate federal criminal investigation of WikiLeaks.