Earlier today, Colonel Carl R. Coffman Jr., denied the defense's request to conduct oral depositions of nine essential witnesses. These same witnesses were requested by the defense at the Article 32 hearing, but denied by Lieutenant Colonel Paul Almanza. Each of the requested witnesses would have testified concerning whether the charged information was or was not classified and whether there was any harm to national security from this information becoming public.
Colonel Coffman determined that the difficulty, expense, and/or effect on military operations outweighed the significance of the expected testimony. This determination is difficult to comprehend given the nature of the charges against PFC Manning. Today's decision is yet another example of the government improperly impeding the defense's access to essential witnesses.
Based upon Colonel Coffman's decision, the defense intends to renew its request to depose these witnesses with the General Court-Martial Convening Authority, Major General Michael S. Linnington, and, if necessary, with the military judge.