Manning's lawyer asks military to stop WikiLeaks hearing
The Army prosecutors said they believe Almanza could be an impartial investigator.

Capt. Ashden Fein, the lead prosecutor, said a case cited by Coombs to argue against Almanza's participation applied to military judges at courts-martial, not investigating officers in Article 32 hearings, and stemmed from a proceeding in which the military judge was openly hostile to the defense.

After arguments and a 90-minute recess to deliberate, Almanza ruled that a reasonable person would conclude that he could be an impartial investigator. He then granted another recess to allow Coombs to contact the Army Court of Criminal Appeals with his request to halt the hearing and review the ruling.

That court, based at Fort Belvoir, Va., could respond at any time. In the meantime, the hearing is scheduled to resume Saturday and continue through Friday, if necessary.

Prosecutors are expected to begin presenting evidence Saturday.

Outside Fort Meade, former Army Lt. Dan Choi said Friday that the material Manning is alleged to have disclosed — which included the Apache helicopter video, in which Americans can be heard laughing and referring to Iraqis as "dead bastards" — helped to speed the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The United States declared an official end to the war in Iraq on Thursday, the day before Manning's hearing began.

"We must have the truth to achieve justice — and without justice, we will never see true peace," Choi said.

The hearing marked a return to Maryland for Manning, who lived in Potomac and studied at Montgomery College before he enlisted in the Army in 2007.

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