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At Bradley Manning Hearing, His Attorney Challenges Judge

An "astonishing" scene has already played out at the just-opened military court hearing about the case against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who stands accused of giving classified information to WikiLeaks, The Guardian reports.

David Coombs, Manning's civilian lawyer has "demanded that the presiding judge — known in an Article 32 hearing like this as the investigating officer — take himself off the hearing because he is biased and a stooge of the defense department," The Guardian writes.

At issue, according to Coombs: The fact that in civilian life, Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, the investigating officer, is a federal Justice Department investigator. Justice is also investigating Manning.

So the hearing at Fort Meade, Md., has already gone into a recess while Almanza considers "whether he should remove himself from the judge's seat."

NPR's Carrie Johnson previewed the court proceeding earlier today on Morning Edition. She reported that prosecutors plan to "present evidence in a military court that Manning is responsible for one of the biggest leaks in decades. They'll argue he downloaded national secrets onto what looked like a Lady Gaga CD, and then he passed those documents to WikiLeaks. It's the start of what's known as an Article 32 proceeding, the run-up to a court-martial."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.