FT. MEADE, Md. (CN) - Raw footage of the Baghdad airstrike that killed two Reuters employees aired for the first time in military court as Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army soldier who exposed it, launched his defense Monday.
On July 12, 2007, the crew of the Apache helicopter gunned down an estimated 12 civilians, including freelance photojournalist Namir Noor-Edeen and his driver, Saeed Chmagh.
The entire incident had been recorded on the helicopter's cockpit video, a portion of which Wikileaks released under the name "Collateral Murder."
WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange, who published the full version and an 18-minute cut, said that it showed evidence of a war crime.
In a statement delivered before trial, Manning said he had been disturbed by the "seemingly delightful bloodlust" of the gunners pursuing the wounded men in their crosshairs.
The Pentagon insisted that the edit was misleading and defended the conduct of the crew by stating that the gunners mistook the journalists' cameras for weapons during heavy fighting in Baghdad.
Attorneys for Manning chose to open the defense's case by presenting the unedited footage.
The attacks on the Reuters employees occur early on during the 39-minute video, but the remainder of the tape does not appear to show much combat other than the Apache firing upon what appear to be vacant buildings.
The video is just one of the more than 700,000 files leaked by Manning that prosecutors claim "aided the enemy," allegedly by demonstrating how the helicopters and crew operate.
Manning's lead attorney, David Coombs, aimed to dismiss that charge on Monday morning, filing motions seeking a ruling of "not guilty" on several of the 22 counts against the 25-year0old private.
Those motions have not yet been publicly released, and it is not yet known how many charges are being sought for dismissal.
Prosecutors are expected to respond by the end of this week.
"Our Best Analyst, By Far"
Meanwhile, the defense started calling witnesses with Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Ehresman, who oversaw all of the intelligence reports in Manning's unit in Iraq.
"He was our best analyst by far when it came to developing products," Ehresman said, referring to Manning.
Some of the young private's assignments included analyzing trends in Iraqi elections and creating "density plots" of IED attacks to ferret out patterns.
Despite being the "go-to guy" in his unit for interpreting the data, Manning was "weak" in drawing conclusions from that information, Ehresman added.
Manning was also the most curious, the next witness testified.
Sgt. David Sadtler, a slender soldier from the battalion, said he spoke with Manning, a member of the brigade, on only a "few occasions."
Still, he noticed that Manning had a wider interest in international affairs than his colleagues.
"The staff in the brigade would come to him if they wanted to know what's going on in the world," Sadtler said, referring to Manning.
During one conversation, Manning appeared upset about an article that he had translated about the Iraqi Federal Police.
Manning became disillusioned with his deployment after a superior officer told him to ignore signs that the Iraqi Federal Police had imprisoned and tortured political dissidents decrying financial corruption, according to web chats entered into evidence.
Sadtler testified that he shrugged off the concern, and that he noticed Manning seemed upset by the reaction.