Pfc. Bradley Manning faces 22 charges after being accused of distributing hundreds of thousands of secret government documents to WikiLeaks.

Story highlights

NEW: Manning's defense calls only two witnesses

NEW: Witness tells hearing about Manning outburst

Former hacker says he traded e-mails with someone he believes was Manning

Fort Meade, Maryland CNN  — 

After four days of testimony and 20 prosecution witnesses, Pfc. Bradley Manning’s defense attorney spent only 35 minutes Wednesday questioning just two witnesses before resting their case.

Manning’s Article 32 hearing is part of the military’s process of determining whether he should face court martial.

The first defense witness called was Sgt. Daniel Padgett who served with Manning in Iraq and witnessed one of several angry outbursts witnesses have described.

Padgett was the senior enlisted man on the night shift in the intelligence office where Manning worked.

He testified that in December 2009, Manning was late for duty and they sat down in a conference room so Padgett could counsel him.

Padgett said when they began talking, Manning was calm, but that he began to change. At some point, said Padgett, Manning grabbed the conference room table and turned the table over, knocking a computer and radio to the floor.

Because there was a rifle in the room, Padgett testified that he didn’t want Manning to get his hands on it, so “I coaxed him away from that, put my hands on his shoulder and coaxed him away.”

At that point another soldier came in the room, subdued Manning, sat him down and Padgett continued counseling him, Padgett testified.

When asked by Manning’s attorney David Coombs if Padgett remembered Master Sgt. Paul Adkins, the senior enlisted man in the unit, talking with him about the incident, Padgett said “vaguely.”

Padgett testified that he did not discuss the outburst with the major who oversaw the intelligence analysis officers, the company’s first sergeant nor the company commander.

Manning was not moved out of the intelligence office after the outburst and did not lose his security clearance as a result of the outburst.

Coombs has argued that the Army should have known about Manning’s emotional issues and kept him away from classified materials.

Manning is accused of stealing and leaking nearly three-quarters of a million classified documents from the State Department and the Defense Department to the WikiLeaks website, which published many of them. The leaks occurred while Manning was serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010.

Prosecution witnesses testified that Manning downloaded and leaked 400,000 DoD field reports from Iraq and 90,0000 similar documents from Afghanistan. There was also evidence presented that he downloaded and leaked more than 250,000 State Department cables.

Coomb’s second witness, Capt. Barclay Keay, testified by phone about his time with Manning’s unit. For a short time in December 2009, he was an officer in the intelligence analysis office where Manning worked.

Keay said he often saw soldiers listening to music in the office where classified materials were analyzed. At first he thought it was not proper, but he was told it was “an accepted practice” that was “tolerated because it helped soldiers be more productive.”

In news reports before the hearing, Manning is said to have bragged in a chat room that he was able to download materials onto a CD while pretending to listen to Lady Gaga.

Keay told the hearing, “I do feel like he wanted to be a good soldier. He did good analytical work.”

Even though he called only two, Coombs had requested 48 witnesses, 10 of whom were already on the prosecution witness list. The investigating officer overseeing the case granted those 10 and two other defense witnesses who were not on the prosecution list. He rejected other requested defense witnesses, including President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Mark Zaid, a national security attorney, said the fact the defense called only two witnesses is not surprising. “For one thing, an Article 32 (hearing) serves as an opportunity for the defense to obtain pre-trial discovery, and particularly information they do not know. Additionally, the likelihood of stopping charges from going forward is non-existent in this case so there is little value in telegraphing to the prosecution information the defense may possess but might not yet have revealed,” said Zaid.

Closing arguments from both sides are scheduled to start Thursday morning.

After that the Investigating Officer, Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, who oversaw the hearing, will consider the testimony and evidence and make a recommendation as to whether Manning should face court martial and if so, on which charges.

The burden of proof at this level of the military justice system is “whether reasonable grounds exist to believe that the accused committed the offenses alleged.”

The Special Court Martial Convening Authority, Col. Carl Coffman, has given Almanza until Jan. 16, 2012 to submit his recommendation. But, if needed, Almanza can request more time.

Witnesses for the prosecution have characterized Manning as being troubled by Army discipline and testified that he allegedly bragged on the Internet about the leak of classified documents.

Army investigators also testified that they found evidence linking Manning to the leaked documents on computers he used.

Prosecutors have leveled 22 charges against the Army private, including aiding the enemy.

If convicted on all counts, he could face the death penalty. However, Army prosecutors have signaled they will not recommend death in the event of a conviction, and it is unlikely they would be overruled by a senior officer.

On Tuesday, a convicted computer hacker from California who became a confidential informant for the Army testified about six days of online chats that he had with someone he believes was Manning.

Adrian Lamo said he traded instant messages in a chat format with someone self-identified as Bradass87. Lamo testified that based on an e-mail he received from Manning, as well as an examination of Manning’s Facebook page, that Bradass87 was Manning.

Army Criminal Investigation Command Special Agent David Shaver later testified that the chat logs that Lamo provided to the Army largely matched chat logs found on Manning’s computer in Iraq.