The court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the central figure in a massive leak of government documents, is focused on secrecy and government security. Yet his trial has become a secretive drama that allows the public little insight into what's going on in the military courtroom.
One of the pretrial hearings was closed to the public. Many court documents have been withheld or heavily redacted. Photographers were blocked from getting a good shot of the soldier and even some of Manning's supporters had to turn their T-shirts inside out.
Military law experts say some of it is common for a court-martial, while other restrictions appear tailored to the extraordinary nature of the case, which has garnered an outpouring of support from whistleblowers, activists and others around the world.
"I think the judge is very concerned about not turning this trial into a theater, into a spectacle," said David J.R. Frakt, a military law expert at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer. "I cannot remember a situation where there was such a high degree of civilian interest, people not affiliated with the military, having intense and passionate interest in the outcome of the case."
Manning is charged under federal espionage and computer fraud laws, but the most serious offense the military has accused him of is aiding the enemy, which carries a life sentence. His supporters call him a hero; opponents say he is a traitor for leaking the material the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
The trial for the soldier from Crescent, Okla., began Monday under a barrage of heavy restrictions.
Manning supporters wearing "truth" T-shirts had to turn them inside out before entering the courtroom. The shirts were made by the Bradley Manning Support Network in early 2012 as an alternative to "Free Bradley Manning" T-shirts banned from early pretrial hearings, spokesman Nathan Fuller said.
The military allowed the shirts Tuesday. Army spokeswoman Col. Michelle Roberts said the earlier decision made "out of a concern for public safety and to remove a potential cause for disturbance among members of the public." She said leaders assessed the situation and decided they were OK.
Since the case began, reporters covering hearings have been asked to sign a document saying they would withhold the names of spokespeople on-site because the military said some people directly involved in the case had received death threats. The Associated Press signed the document to be allowed to cover the trial, but the news organization is protesting it.
Photographers looking to snap pictures of Manning Monday missed the soldier leaving the courtroom because he was blocked by military police. On Tuesday, Manning was not surrounded.
The military also relaxed rules Tuesday about interviewing spectators outside the courtroom.
Courts-martial don't have a roadmap for guaranteeing public access like civilian courts, military law experts said.
The security in the Manning case appears determined to minimize distractions and maintain law-and-order — even if that means throwing up roadblocks to a public accustomed to transparency, experts said.
"I don't think it's good to turn the environs into an armed camp unless it is literally unavoidable," said Eugene Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale Law School. "People do occasionally act out in courtrooms, both spectators or witnesses or the accused, but I'm sure that the Army knows how to maintain order, and I'm not sure that it's necessary to do it with as heavy a hand as seems to be implied here."
Manning, 25, has admitted turning over hundreds of thousands of classified documents. His lawyer has called him a "young, naive but good-intentioned" soldier, but prosecutors say he put secrets directly into the hands of Osama bin Laden.
His trial, which is being heard by a judge instead of a jury, is expected to run all summer. Parts of it are expected to be closed.
At a pretrial hearing in April, the military judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, released written copies of two rulings to reporters. It was the first time since she got the case in February 2012 that she had made her written orders publicly available on a same-day basis.
The lack of public access to rulings and motions is being challenged in federal court by the Center for Constitutional Rights, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and a handful of journalists. Thirty news organizations, including the AP, plan to file a brief this week supporting the case.
In February, the military began releasing Lind's older rulings amid numerous Freedom of Information Act requests.
The court considers some documents so sensitive that they are stored off-site at locations in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia. They will remain there, and even any appellate judges would have to travel to locations such as the Central Intelligence Agency to read them.
Philip Cave, a retired Navy judge advocate general, said it's not uncommon for portions of military trials to be kept away from the public.
"Does that automatically mean that there's a lack of transparency or that there's kind of hiding the ball going on? I don't think you can argue that," said Cave, who is now a military defense lawyer. "Then again," he added, "I don't necessarily believe my government. I do think they over-classify things."
The military released about 550 documents on Tuesday, including a photo of a noose Manning made from a bedsheet while he was being detained in Kuwait shortly after his arrest in May 2010.
The noose was presented as evidence at a hearing in December regarding Manning's confinement at a Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., to show why jailers there considered him a suicide threat.
For nine months, Manning was held alone in a windowless cell 23 hours a day, sometimes with no clothing. Lind later ruled Manning had been illegally punished and should get 112 days off any prison sentence he receives.
Army spokesman George Wright said there was "no specific trigger" for the release of documents, but the military had been working to process as many records as possible.
Tucker reported from Washington.
Houston's police chief told jurors on Tuesday that the 2010 videotaped beating of a black teen burglary suspect made him "sick to my stomach" and gave the police department a "black eye."
Police Chief Charles McClelland Jr. testified that fired officer Drew Ryser -- one of four officers who were indicted in the case -- mistreated the teen during his arrest and failed to follow proper procedures.
Ryser, 32, is on trial this week on a misdemeanor charge of official oppression. He faces up to a year in jail if convicted.
"It made me sick to my stomach because it was an egregious use of force and the men and women of the Houston police department are better than that ... they did not deserve that type of black eye," McClelland told special prosecutor Jonathan Munier.
Ryser's attorneys have said the ex-officer was following textbook procedures to arrest a suspect he had been told might have been armed.
In video footage from a security camera that caught the March 2010 beating, then-15-year-old Chad Holley is seen falling to the ground after trying to hurdle a police squad car. He's then surrounded by at least five officers, some of whom appear to kick and hit his head, abdomen and legs. Police said that Holley and three others had tried to run away after burglarizing a home.
Holley's beating prompted fierce public criticism of Houston's police department by community activists, who called it an example of police brutality against minorities.
McClelland said that in seeing the video footage, he was disturbed that Holley, who had given up, offered "no active resistance and the force that was being used against him was excessive and unnecessary."
McClelland told jurors that if Ryser and the other officers believed Holley might have been armed, proper procedure would have called for one officer to draw his weapon on the teen and for another officer to then handcuff him.
But while questioning McClelland, Lisa Andrews, one of Ryser's attorneys, tried to suggest to jurors that the scene was very chaotic, with Holley and other suspects running in different directions, and that such a "perfect scenario way" of arresting Holley was not possible.
"If the other officers committed to go hands on to handcuff (Holley), it would not be prudent for other officers to pull a weapon," Andrews said.
McClelland disagreed on describing the arrest scene as chaotic, instead calling it "challenging."
Andrews also tried to suggest to jurors that the video did show Holley resisting efforts to handcuff him.
McClelland was expected to continue testifying on Wednesday. The trial, being heard by a six-person jury, is expected to last about a week.
Two other former officers charged in the case pleaded no contest and were sentenced in April to two years of probation as part of plea agreements. A fourth ex-officer was acquitted in May 2012. All the fired officers indicted in the case were charged with misdemeanors.
Holley was convicted of burglary in juvenile court in October 2010 and placed on probation. Last year, Holley, now 19, was arrested on another burglary charge, and a judge sentenced him in April to six months in jail and seven years of probation. Holley, dressed in an orange prison uniform, has been briefly brought into the courtroom at various times during the trial so that he can be identified by different witnesses.
Police in Washington state are reviewing their officers' use of force during the arrest of a woman reported to be disabled.
Megan Graham, 36, was pulled over on May 27 in Federal Way, Wash., after a police officer saw her using her cellphone while driving.
According to police records, an officer approached Graham and asked for her license and registration. Graham showed the officer her license, along with an expired insurance card.
After the officer went back to his car to write her a ticket, Graham got our of her car with her dog in hand and started walking towards an apartment building, according to police. The officer says he told Graham to get back into her vehicle, but she would not comply.
Graham says she has a cognitive disorder and hearing disabilities and did not hear the officer's order to return to her car.
"I had a concussion," Graham told KIRO 7. "I still have a hard time understanding how things got so out of control, so fast."
According to police documents, the officer went to arrest Graham and grabbed her hand.
"I attempted to conduct a wrist lock but Graham muscled me and used her weight to pull away from me," the officer wrote in a police report.
Graham says she felt she was being attacked, and called 911 for help, according to KIRO 7.
"I pulled my arm back, grabbed my phone and called 911 to call for help," Graham told KIRO 7. "I told the officer I had mental and hearing disabilities, and didn't understand why he was trying to hurt me."
A second officer arrived on the scene shortly afterwards, and together with the first officer took Graham "to the ground," according to police documents.
"It was horrible. I just didn't understand any of it," Graham told KIRO 7. "I told him about my condition. Punching me over and over in the eye is obviously excessive force. He could have handled it a lot differently."
The officers noted Graham sustained an injury to her face, and one officer says Graham scratched his neck.
Graham was arrested and charged with assault. An investigation is underway.
"We are committed to a thorough and complete investigation into this matter," said Federal Way Police Chief Brian Wilson. "It is important for all of the facts and circumstances to be known. A use of force review has been initiated as well."