Bradley Manning‘s Attorney David Coombs argues a motion in front of Judge Denise Lind at Fort Meade, Md. July 15, 2013 (Art: Kay Rudin/RSN)
Judge Denise Lind did not dismiss the “Aiding the Enemy” charge against Bradley Manning, stating that the Army did present evidence that Manning should have known, based on his training, that the enemy would be able to access the information he released to Wikileaks. She also stated that evidence was presented that Manning did know that the enemy could use the SIGACTS (mapping of incidents in a region) he leaked in the same manner that the Army uses them.
Judge Lind read into the record the evidence that she determined met the elements for the charge. If the Judge gives weight to that evidence when she enters her final verdict at the conclusion of the case, it does not look good for Manning or Press Freedom in America. The result would be chilling for whistleblowers or anyone who publishes information on the internet that could be used by the “enemy.”
Manning has already pleaded guilty to illegal use of information that he had the right to access. The chilling issue here is that with no contact with the enemy, Manning could serve life in prison without the possibility for parole. Bradley Manning did not give the information to an enemy of the United States, he gave it to the media.
Even if you don’t believe Wikileaks is the media, Judge Lind asked the Army on two occasions the following: If the documents were released to The New York Times and not Wikileaks would you still have brought the same charges? The Army’s response on both occasions was “Yes Ma’am.” So precedent that would be set here with a guilty verdict is that providing information to any media organization can result in a conviction for aiding the enemy.
Where is the line? How often have we all crossed it?
Many of the trial’s crucial issues won’t be hashed out until the sentence phase—and the press and public may be shut out, reports Alexa O’Brien.
Fort Meade, Maryland—As the defense and the prosecution rested their cases in the largest leak trial in American history, the defense argued Monday that the presiding military judge, Col. Denise Lind, should dismiss “aiding the enemy” and other serious charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier who uploaded hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and U.S Army reports to the organization WikiLeaks, which published the material online in 2010.
Prosecutors failed to present evidence that Manning had the requisite knowledge that al Qaeda or the enemy used WikiLeaks, argued civilian defense counsel, David Coombs, on Monday. Anything less than actual knowledge would set a dangerous precedent for a free press, he said, because military prosecutors have already stated that they would have charged Manning similarly had the organization beenThe New York Times and not WikiLeaks.
Lind, the chief judge of the U.S. Army’s First Judicial Circuit, ruled Monday that she would allow the prosecution to rebut the defense case that WikiLeaks was a respected journalistic organization at the time of the charged offenses, and that Manning had a “noble motive” to inform the public, as the defense has asserted. Prosecutors intend to recall their lead forensic expert to discuss emails to members of the press as well as WikiLeaks tweets found on digital media belonging to Manning. Prosecutors also intend to call another member of Manning’s brigade to testify that the accused told him in May 2010 that “I would be shocked if you are not telling your kids about me in ten to fifteen years from now.”
Manning, who was arrested in May 2010 and spent an unprecedented 1,101 days in confinement before his trial began last month, is charged with 22 crimes. Despite hisplea to 10 lesser included offenses carrying a sentence of up to 20 years, the government has pressed ahead on 21 of the charged offenses, which include aiding the enemy, espionage, stealing government property, and “wanton publication,” which could leave the 25-year-old facing life plus 149 years in a military prison if convicted.
Manning has opted to be tried by military judge alone, and not a panel of officers and enlisted personnel. After the closing arguments that follow the prosecution’s rebuttal case, Judge Lind will deliberate and announce her findings. Unlike in a federal criminal case where sentencing commences after the completion of a pre-sentencing report, if Manning is convicted, a sentencing case will begin immediately.
During the sentencing case, both defense and the prosecution will present evidence, call witnesses, and make arguments about appropriate punishment. The maximum sentences are outlined in the Manual for Courts-Martial and the judge’s previous court rulings.
While probation is not possible for an accused in a military court-martial, the “general convening authority,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the commander of the Military District of Washington, can dismiss Lind’s guilty findings and reduce Manning’s sentence. The general convening authority, however, cannot reverse a finding by Lind of not guilty or increase his sentence.
On Monday, Coombs referenced the testimony of a government witness from the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center, which published a 2008 report on WikiLeaks titled “Wikileaks.org—An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?” saying, “The US Army did not know if the enemy went to WikiLeaks … but they want to ascribe that knowledge to a junior analyst.”
In a historic elocution in court last week, Prof. Yochai Benkler, co-director of theBerkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, told Lind that “the cost of finding Pfc. Manning guilty of aiding the enemy would impose” too great a burden on the “willingness of people of good conscience but not infinite courage to come forward,” and “would severely undermine the way in which leak-based investigative journalism has worked in the tradition of [the] free press in the United States.”
“[I]f handing materials over to an organization that can be read by anyone with an internet connection, means that you are handing [it] over to the enemy—that essentially means that any leak to a media organization that can be read by any enemy anywhere in the world, becomes automatically aiding the enemy,” saidBenkler. “[T]hat can’t possibly be the claim,” he added.
Benkler testified that WikiLeaks was a new mode of digital journalism that fit into a distributed model of emergent newsgathering and dissemination in the Internet age, what he termed the “networked Fourth Estate.” When asked by the prosecution if “mass document leaking is somewhat inconsistent with journalism,” Benkler responded that analysis of large data sets like the Iraq War Logs provides insight not found in one or two documents containing a “smoking gun.” The Iraq War Logs, he said, provided an alternative, independent count of casualties “based on formal documents that allowed for an analysis that was uncorrelated with the analysis that already came with an understanding of its political consequences.”
Manning was charged with the unauthorized possession and willful communication of an unclassified video of a 2009 U.S. bombing in the Farah province of Afghanistan that killed at least 140 women and children. It was the only offense under the Espionage Act that he did not plead to a lesser included offense. He pleaded not guilty, and WikiLeaks never published such a video.
The Garani-airstrike video is central to the prosecution’s theory of its case connecting Manning to an ongoing federal criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. (Assange, who has spent over a year inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid the prospect of extradition to the U.S., has emerged in recent weeks as a crucial ally to Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who left America before sharing with journalists at The Guardian andWashington Post highly classified documents about the spy agency’s vast collection of information about Americans and others.) But in the second week of the trial, the lead forensic examiner from the Army Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU)testified that he found “no connection” between Manning and an individual investigated by the FBI for allegedly attempting to decrypt the charged video.
Much of the trial, and the pretrial hearings that led up to it, have been conducted inmanaged obscurity. Judge Lind and the U.S. Army denied public access to over 30,000 pages of pretrial court documents in the 18 months preceding the trial, before the U.S. Army released roughly 500 pretrial records on the third day of Manning’s trial.
Even the unofficial contemporaneous transcripts of open sessions provided and published at their own expense by the Freedom of the Press Foundation do not contain the information hidden by the government underneath the black redactions of classified stipulations from eight Department of State witnesses concerning 117 charged cables.
When the director of the counterespionage division at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Dan Lewis, testified in a closed session away from the public earlier this month, aluminum-foil wrap and carpeted poster board covered the courtroom windows to prevent anyone from picking up sound vibrations from his testimony on their surface.
Since the court ruled that motive and actual damage (or “lack of damage”) evidence was not relevant at trial (except to prove circumstantially that Manning was cognizant of the fact that the enemy used the WikiLeaks website), evidence of Manning’s intent and the impact of the leaks will finally be heard by the court at sentencing. It remains to be seen, however, how much of the sentencing phase of this trial will be open to the public, since the government is expected to elicit testimony from 13 classified sentencing witnesses in closed sessions or in classified stipulations for their sentencing case.
In late May, the prosecution noted that three classified damage assessments would be used as evidence at sentencing. Two of the damage assessments from the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA), Information Review Task Force (IRTF), and the Office of the Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX) are known to be in the form of classified summaries.
While an accused has a right to see evidence used against him at trial, military prosecutors did not want Manning to have access to the original damage assessments. The form of the third damage assessment is unknown, but defensestipulated that if the third damage assessment was in its original form, only defense counsel would have access to the original. Manning would not.
The third damage assessment is likely from the Department of State, although prosecutors produced for the defense an FBI impact statement and two CIA damage assessments (including one from its WikiLeaks Task Force during the pretrial.
One month after Manning was arrested in Iraq in 2010, then–Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered the director of the DIA, Ronald Burgess, to assemble an IRTF to lead a comprehensive review of the documents allegedly disclosed to WikiLeaks in order to “make determinations about whether or not any TTPs [tactics, techniques, and procedures] [had] been exposed, and whether or not any adjustments need[ed] to be made, in light of that exposure,” according to then–Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.
The task force—led by counterintelligence expert Brig. Gen. Robert Carr— was made up of 80 people including intelligence analysts and counterintelligence experts from the DIA; U.S. Pacific Command; U.S. Central Command; and the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, which is responsible for managing the ongoing Department of Defense investigation into WikiLeaks. Other interagency partners included the FBI and the Army Criminal Investigation Command. Carr will testify for the prosecution at sentencing in a closed session or classified stipulation, as will two other individuals from the DIA: Col. Julian Chestnut and John Kirchhofer, who holds the civilian rank of defense intelligence senior level for counterintelligence and human intelligence.
In mid-summer 2010 the Department of State began working with the IRTF to “review any purported State material in the release and provide an assessment, as well as a summary of the overall effect the WikiLeaks release could have on relations with the host country,” said Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, the under secretary for management at the Department of State, when he testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in March 2011.
By the end of the summer of 2010, the IRTF had gone through 70,000 documentsalready published by WikiLeaks. According to an early pretrial defense filing, the IRTF concluded “that all the information allegedly leaked was either dated, represented low-level opinions, or was commonly understood and known due to previous public disclosures.”
At that time, Gates wrote a letter to the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, stating that the initial assessment of the IRTF “in no way discount[ed] the risk to national security; however, the review to date ha[d] not revealed any sensitive source and methods comprised by this exposure.”
Last week, the defense tried to establish through Benkler’s testimony that “overwrought” and “shrill” rhetoric by government officials in the wake of the WikiLeaks releases was responsible for driving the enemy to the WikiLeaks website. The government’s response, said Coombs, is what changed WikiLeaks from being a “legitimate journalistic organization” to a “terrorist organization.”
ONCIX, which is part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, together with the Information Security Oversight Office, which is responsible for oversight of the government-wide classification system, led a separate review of how federal agencies handled classified information in the wake of the 2010 WikiLeaks disclosures.
The ONCIX damage assessment was the result of a November 2010 memo by Jacob Lew, director of the Executive Office of Management and Budget, titled “WikiLeaks Mishandling of Classified Info.” The memo was addressed to the heads of every federal agency requiring that they assemble mitigations teams to conduct internal reviews of “security practices with respect to the protection of classified information” at their agencies.
A subsequent questionnaire required these mitigation teams to audit among other items whether agencies “capture evidence of pre-employment and/or post-employment activities or participation in on-line media data mining sites like WikiLeaks or Open Leaks.”
The WikiLeaks Mitigation Team at the Department of State was one of the working groups established in response to then–OMB Director Jack Lew’s directives in November 2010 and January 2011. That team reported to Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, who is also expected to testify for the prosecution in a closed session or classified stipulation during the sentencing phase of Manning’s trial. Kennedy is the original classification authority for the 117 charged diplomatic cables, and Diplomatic Security Services that partnered with the Departments of Defense and Justice in the investigation of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Manning report directly to him.
The director of Counterintelligence and Consular Support in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) was responsible for authoring the August 2011 Department of State “draft” damage assessment. In June 2012, Assistant Secretary for INR Catherine Brown testified that she edited the Department of State damage assessment and reported directly to Kennedy.
The government’s response, the defense argued, is what changed WikiLeaks from being a ‘legitimate journalistic organization’ to a ‘terroristic organization.’
The author of the Department of State damage assessment is also the agency’sprimary liaison with the FBI, a partner in the ongoing multiagency investigation of WikiLeaks.
It was Kennedy who testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in March 2011 about what steps the Department of State took in response to the WikiLeaks publication of diplomatic cables. Kennedy alsotestified to Congress in late November and early December of 2010.
A congressional official, who was briefed by the Department of State at that time, told Reuters that “the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers.”
Reuters reported that internal reviews said that the release of diplomatic cables and “tens of thousands of military field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan” had “caused only limited damage to U.S. interests abroad, despite the Obama administration’s public statements to the contrary.”
“We were told [the impact of WikiLeaks revelations] was embarrassing but not damaging,” a congressional aide told Reuters.
In addition to Kennedy, Ambassador Michael Kozak, whose bureau was responsible for standing up the WikiLeaks Persons at Risk Group, will also testify in a closed session or by classified stipulation, as will Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Elizabeth Dibble and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs John Feeley.
Since January 2011, Alexa O’Brien has covered the WikiLeaks release of US State Department Cables, JTF memoranda known as the ‘GTMO files’, revolutions across Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, and Yemen, as well as the prosecution of Bradley Manning and the US investigation into WikiLeaks. She has interviewed a preeminent US foreign policy expert on the Cambodia cables, and published hours of interviews with former GTMO guards, detainees, defense lawyers, and human rights activists, as well as WikiLeaks media partners: Andy Worthington, a GTMO historian and author, and Atanas Tchobanov, the Balkanleaks’ spokesman and co-editor of Bivol.bg.
As a result of her work covering the Global War on Terror; the 2011 revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa; and her extramural activities helping to organize the original occupation of Wall Street in New York and five other American cities on September 17, 2011, the U.S. Government and private security contractors attempted to falsely link her and a campaign finance reform group, which she helped found to Al Qaeda and ‘cyber-terrorists’.
She subsequently became party to a lawsuit brought against the Obama administration for Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act FY2012 with author Chris Hedges and five other plaintiffs. Section 1021(b)(2) allows for the indefinite detention without trial or charges of anyone, who by mere suspicion alone are deemed by the Executive to be terrorist sympathizers.
Her testimony and submissions were central to U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest’s ruling granting a permanent injunction on Section 1021(b)(2). In June, the 2nd Circuit is expected to rule on the Department of Justice’s midnight appeal of Forrest’s September 2012 injunction.
For a year and a half, she has produced the only available pre-trial transcripts of Manning’s secret prosecution. She has provided some of only analysis available on his case, a forensically reconstructed appellate exhibit list, witness profiles, and a searchable database of the available court record.
Because of her familiarity with the proceedings and investigative work, she has been able to ‘un-redact’ a selection of court documents.
She was awarded a generous grant by the Freedom of the Press Foundation for her work covering Bradley Manning’s trial, and her work there was shortlisted for the 2013 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.
For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at email@example.com.
Star Publisher H. Brandt Ayers’ recent ad hominem attack on Bradley Manning and Julian Assange is unworthy of a paper that advertises itself as an advocate for the defenseless. Whether Edward Snowden, Manning and Assange chose to reveal state secrets because they experienced dysfunctional childhoods is irrelevant. Most adults suffer damage in childhood from their imperfect parents. These men understood what the establishment media doesn’t: that secrecy is anathema to freedom.
Assange is not an American citizen but Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, acting as true patriots, were faced with a dilemma: When does duty to a higher law necessitate disobeying lesser laws, the higher law here embodied in fulfilling an oath to serve and protect the Constitution? Perhaps if the mainstream media were truly a free press and the government not dominated by Stasi-like freaks, such actions would be unnecessary.
If only we had more men like these, we might rescue this country from fascism. Perhaps only men and women who experienced dysfunctional childhoods should be allowed in government. The “best of the best” diploma-toting, “normal” apparatchiks who run things now don’t seem very responsible, honest or conscientious. After all, as government hacks and sycophants are wont to say, if you don’t have anything to hide why would you mind if I know everything about you?
FORT MEADE, United States/Maryland: A military judge will rule on Thursday whether to drop some charges against Bradley Manning, the US soldier who has admitting giving a massive cache of secret documents to WikiLeaks.
As the espionage trial enters its final stage, Manning’s defence lawyer, David Coombs, renewed his request on Monday for the judge to toss out several counts – including the most serious charge that the soldier “aided the enemy” – on grounds the prosecution has failed to provide incriminating evidence.
Apart from the aiding the enemy count, the defence has asked Judge Denise Lind to toss out charges that Manning committed computer fraud by allegedly exceeding his authorized access and that he allegedly stole government property in his document dump.
The former intelligence analyst in Iraq already has pleaded guilty to ten lesser offenses, acknowledging that he passed hundreds of thousands of military intelligence reports and State Department diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks in the biggest leak of classified files in American history.
But the trial is focused on whether Manning broke rules governing the use of his computer, violated the Espionage Act by leaking sensitive information that could harm US national security and had the intention of assisting Al-Qaeda through his disclosures.
Coombs said the government has not offered “any evidence” to show that Manning knew the leaked files could fall into the hands of Al-Qaeda militants.
To say that “he should have known” was not sufficient, Coombs said.
“There should have been something more than simply that,” he said.
The judge has said the government must prove Manning had “actual knowledge” that his leak would aid the enemy, either directly or indirectly.
At Monday’s proceedings, Coombs sought to counter the government’s allegation that Manning committed computer fraud by downloading classified documents using a program known as Wget.
The defence says Manning already had access to the data he downloaded because of his job as an intelligence analyst and that he used the Wget program simply to speed up the download.
Manning, 25, faces a possible life sentence on the aiding the enemy charge and a total of more than 140 years if found guilty on all counts.
The prosecution rested its case after five weeks and the defence presented its case in three days of testimony last week.
The judge also is due to rule on the scope of the prosecution’s planned “rebuttal” to the evidence put forward by the defence.
Manning has become a folk hero to his supporters who see him as a crusading whistle-blower trying to expose the excesses of US foreign policy.
But his critics say Manning betrayed his soldier’s oath and portray him as a reckless traitor who undermined US diplomacy and endangered lives with his leak.
Defense team now expected to motion for dismissal of charges for ‘lack of evidence’
(Image via Bradley Manning Support Network)After 14 days and 80 witnesses, the United States government prosecuting Pfc. Bradley Manning in the long-awaited trial against the military whistleblower has rested their case.
As Manning’s defense team prepares to present their case next week, they are hoping Manning’s prospects have risen after the government was forced to close their portion of the trial with an “embarrassing admission” that the Army had misplaced Manning’s military contract, the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) , which laid out the terms of his access to classified information.
Over three years after being arrested for leaking details of military atrocities and intelligence to WikiLeaks, Manning is on trial for 21 charges including aiding the enemy, which carries a possible life sentence.
Ahead of the trial, Judge Colonel Denise Lind stated that in order to prove their charge of ‘aiding the enemy’ the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Manning had “a general evil intent,” in that he “had to know he was dealing, directly or indirectly, with an enemy of the US.”
Lind added that the soldier cannot be found guilty if he acted “inadvertently, accidentally, or negligently.”
Reporting from the trial, The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington writes, “Whether or not the prosecution succeeds in meeting that high bar set by Lind will have far-reaching implications, not just for Manning, whose fate depends on it, but also for the wider relationship in the US between government, whistleblowers and a free press.”
Explaining the gaff related to Manning’s missing military contract, Pilkington also reports:
The document is important as it clarifies whether or not the soldier exceeded the terms of the authorized access to secret documents through his work computer that he directly agreed to.
[…] The AUP could be relevant to charges that Manning knowingly exceeded authorized access to a secret internet network, that he obtained classified information without authorization and that he violated the computer fraud and abuse act.
Consequently, the defense is expected to begin next Monday with a motion to have a number of the charges against Manning dismissed on the grounds of lack of evidence.
“Whether or not the prosecution succeeds in [proving he ‘aided the enemy] will have far-reaching implications, not just for Manning, whose fate depends on it, but also for the wider relationship in the US between government, whistleblowers and a free press.” -Guardian reporter Ed Pilkington
To counter the ‘aiding the enemy’ charge, Manning’s attorney David Coombs will argue that, rather than premeditation, the soldier was provoked to leak information after witnessing a series of military atrocities and that he specifically chose information “that he believed the public should hear and see, information that would make the world a better place.”
Manning has already pleaded guilty to a number of charges which carry a combined maximum prison term of 20 years, including reduced charges on seven of eight espionage counts and two counts of computer fraud. He has also admitted guilt for violating a military regulation prohibiting wrongful storage of classified information.
“Such a substantial admission of responsibility has failed to satisfy military prosecutors, who are clearly determined to send a bold message that will give any would-be leaker pause,” notes Pilkington, who adds that the “aggression displayed” by the US government carries “additional significance” in light of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s ongoing attempts toseek amnesty from US persecution.
All of the trial transcripts are made available to the public via the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which has led a grassroots initiative to crowd-fund a stenographer for the duration of the trial.
The prosecution in the Bradley Manning court martial rested their case on Tuesday of this week, well ahead of schedule, taking only 14 days in the courtroom. A casual observer might think the prosecution finished early because they have an easy job: Manning has admitted to leaking the vast majority of documents in question, and he’s already pleaded guilty to a list of crimes on his charge sheet that could get him 20 years in a military prison.
But Manning and his defense team argue his actions don’t warrant the most serious charges against him, the most controversial being ‘Aiding the Enemy.’ That could get him life in prison.
In its opening statement, the prosecution put a graphic up on a courtroom screen— It was the Wikileaks “Most wanted list,” a wish list posted on their website in 2009, the year before Manning began leaking documents. Chief prosecutor, Captain Joe Morrow, said the government would show that Manning used it as a ‘shopping list,’ and they would show even more direct coordination between Manning and Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange. But we saw little of that in court.
“They have no forensic evidence connecting that- what they have is circumstantial evidence,” according to Adam Klasfeld, who has been covering the court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland, for Courthouse News. He says the prosecution’s own experts have been unable to deliver evidence Manning had followed directions, even in-directly, from Wikileaks. The forensic analyst called by the prosecution “didn’t find any visit to the [Wikileaks] URL,” on Manning’s computer, and didn’t find any evidence of communication in the “unallocated space,” on Manning’s computer, the area where deleted e-mails would remain. Klasfeld says the prosecution argued the lack of material in the unallocated space was suspicious. “So in the absence of that evidence, the government’s theory was that Manning had wiped his computer, and so that’s why it wasn’t found there,” he says.
What the government did show was uncontested evidence that the leaked material made it into the hands of Al Qaeda, citing Al Qaeda propaganda, and records recovered from Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound. But Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale law school says even this connection is indirect.
“I think the government’s effort on the aiding the enemy charge was basically predicated on circumstantial evidence,” he says. “And if you connect—if you could put enough dots on the chart—the theory is that the Military judge would almost inevitably connect them.”
But as Fidell points out, the prosecution has not been able to provide as many dots as promised in their opening statement. “One thing that teaches is the danger of making promises in an opening statement that you can’t keep,” he says. “As it played out, I think the government may have concluded it either had made the demonstrated by circumstantial evidence or it decided it hadn’t, and couldn’t, and that may explain why they didn’t call many of the witnesses they said they were going to call and why they… wrapped up the prosecution case well before anyone anticipated.”
Bradley Manning’s team is scheduled to begin their defense on Monday, but Fidell expects that over this holiday weekend they will be drafting a new motion to dismiss the charges against the 25-year-old private.
The prosecution rested its case Tuesday in the court martial of Bradley Manning, the Army private who has admitted to leaking 700,000 documents exposing US military atrocities and other crimes to the WikiLeaks web site in April of 2010.
The prosecutor, Major Ashden Fein, dropped one of the 22 charges against Manning. That charge alleged Manning had leaked intelligence to an “enemy” whose name is classified.
Over the course of five weeks, the prosecution has sought to establish by means of circumstantial evidence that Manning intended to send classified information to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations and conspired with WikiLeaks journalists to do so.
In charging Manning with “aiding the enemy” under Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the US government is equating the publication of classified information about its secret and illegal activities with espionage, treason and aiding terrorists. It is doing so on the spurious grounds that such information can end up in the hands of forces considered by the government to be hostile.
In fact, as the Obama administration and the military well know, Manning released the information to inform the American people of war crimes being carried out by the US government in Iraq and Afghanistan and diplomatic intrigues targeting many other countries.
The clear implication of the government’s case is the position that any publication or organization that publishes leaked classified information or defends whistleblowers such as Manning is itself engaging in criminal and treasonous acts. The prosecution acknowledged as much in January when it argued that its case against Manning, which implicates WikiLeaks in treasonous and pro-terrorist activities, would apply equally if the Army private had passed his information to the New York Times .
This sweeping attack on First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and the press occurs in the context of threats to prosecute journalists such as the Guardian ’s Glenn Greenwald for publishing former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s exposures of US government spying, and revelations that the government seized the phone records of Associated Press reporters and tapped into the email of Fox News’ James Rosen, who was named a co-conspirator by the Justice Department in relation to State Department leaks.
Proceedings in the court martial will resume next Monday with defense motions to dismiss many of the remaining charges for lack of evidence.
Prosecutors claimed that Manning was in direct contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that the latter directed Manning in the selection, downloading and transmission of classified documents. As evidence of this supposed coordination, the government showed the court a WikiLeaks web posting of a “most wanted list” of government secrets, though there was no evidence that Manning took a cue from this list, or ever saw it. The same was true with a tweet encouraging the collection of military emails by WikiLeaks.
Prosecutors also allege that Manning knowingly violated protocol for handling classified information, but cross-examination of a prosecution witness revealed that the Army had lost the document Manning signed acknowledging that he understood the terms in question. The Army’s failure to produce this document may result in dismissal of some of the charges.
In its effort to establish that Manning leaked information out of “evil intent” to “aid the enemy,” the prosecution alleged that he first leaked a classified video of a US air strike in November of 2009, within days of his arrival in Iraq, and not, as Manning states, in April 2010. Manning admits that he leaked the video, but says he did so following a change of conscience in late December of 2009, when he saw a video of a roadside bomb killing civilians whose vehicles were forced off the road by a US military convoy.
A prosecution witness had to admit that the copy of the video allegedly transmitted by Manning in 2009 did not match the version found on Manning’s computer.
Even if Manning did not intend for Al Qaeda to have access to the leaked information, prosecutors contend, he still should have known that WikiLeaks was a threat to the US Army. The evidence offered to show this was a 32-page intelligence report by military counterintelligence on WikiLeaks, which concluded that sensitive or classified information WikiLeaks received “could be of value to foreign intelligence and security services (FISS), foreign military forces, foreign insurgents, and foreign terrorist groups for collecting information or for planning attacks against US forces, both within the United States and abroad.”
Manning allegedly leaked this very report, which WikiLeaks made public in March 2010. Since Manning leaked the document, prosecutors allege, he must have read it.
Manning has not denied his leaking of documents to WikiLeaks and has offered a guilty plea to charges relating to this. Prosecutors have rejected the plea offer.
Manning strictly denies the charge of “aiding the enemy,” which carries a possible death sentence.
The entire trial is a travesty of justice aimed at silencing and punishing those who expose criminality by the US government rather than those who are responsible for war crimes and crimes against the democratic rights of the American people.
With thousands of articles being written about Edward Snowden, many of them repetitious, we must remember another whistleblower who is presently on trial. Bradley Manning must not be forgotten.
Private Manning is being court-martialed for giving secret information to WikiLeaks in 2009 and 2012, while he was a junior intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq. Government prosecutors claim that Manning had obtained 700,000 files, combat videos, and diplomatic transmissions.
The prosecution’s case ended today, Tuesday. The defense will begin on Monday.
Julian Assange, an Australian, says the charges are reprisal for WikiLeaks’ publication of information embarrassing to the U.S. and other governments.
Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, an author and peace prize winner, believes that Manning should receive the ‘Nobel Peace Prize.’ She believes he should be credited for helping to end the war in Iraq, and keeping the United States from participating in other conflicts.
Ms. Corrigan-Maguire says this about peace: “Peace is more than simply the absence of war; it is the active creation of something better. Alfred Nobel recognized this when he created alongside those for chemistry, literature, medicine and physics, an annual prize for outstanding contributions in peace. Nobel’s foresight is a reminder to us all that peace must be created, maintained, and advanced, and it is indeed possible for one individual to have an extraordinary impact.”
I’ve never read a better definition.
Ms. Corrigan-Maguire recently returned from Syria. She spoke with refugees, rebels, and Syrian security forces. She says that hawks such as John McCain are wrong about assisting the rebels. The majority of the extreme violence is the product of outside military components on both sides. She said that the ‘true rebels’ and Syrian forces, all want to find a way to a peaceful end to the conflict.
She said that before Manning’s actions, and a growing condemnation of our continued presence in Iraq by the American people, Syria would already have been invaded by a number of U.S. forces.
Transparency of crimes against humanity is prevalent in the Middle East today. She said if Manning had not taken actions, the world would not have known the truth about the atrocities inside Iraq. US forces committed covert crimes in the name of spreading democracy in Iraq, killing innocent civilians in incidents such as the one depicted in the “Collateral Murder” video, and supported Iraqi prisoner torture.
She points out that Manning is the only one on trial. None of those who committed inhumane acts during the Iraqi conflict have been brought up on charges.
Ms. Corrigan-McGuire’s final words: “I hope American leaders will embrace the U.S. constitution, and base their national and foreign policies on ethical values, human rights and international law.”
Alfred James reporting OP-ED
As an anti-war veteran, my perspective on the Bradley Manning trial is that capitalism/imperialism has once again turned truth into a victim of war.
The Manning court martial trial presents challenges to vets. The government public relations campaign puts out allegations, disinformation and outright lies about what Manning is alleged to have done. Too often veterans are expected to support the official government and Pentagon positions no matter what, but anti-war vets typically don’t fit this traditional mold. We are outspoken, go against the grain and are demonstrative, for which we are criticized and attacked by conservative and pro-war forces.
The protests at Fort Meade, Md. where Pfc. Manning’s trial is taking place include many vets who are members of a number of anti-war veterans organizations as well as some who are unaffiliated.
As City Paper reported this week, the case in which the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), joined by media organizations, including Wikileaks, The Nation, and Democracy Now!, asked for a court order to end pervasive secrecy surrounding the court-martial proceedings against U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, landed in Maryland federal court on Monday.
Late yesterday, U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander ruled that the group’s claims of unconstitutional secrecy do not merit her intervening in the trial of Manning (who in 2010 released a trove of classified material to the anti-secrecy website Wikileaks) with an order governing public disclosure of court documents.
“In light of the actions taken by defendants after this case was filed—to release documents, to commit to expedited release of documents going forward, and to permit unofficial transcription of proceedings by privately retained stenographers—I do not see a substantial likelihood of irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction,” Hollander wrote in a 42-page opinion, docketed two days after the June 17 oral arguments in the lawsuit.
“I am mindful of the keen public interest in the court-martial, the right of public access to such proceedings, as well as the extraordinary nature of the relief plaintiffs seek,” Hollander continued. But the plaintiffs – New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), along with several journalists and media organizations, including Wikileaks, The Nation, and Democracy Now! – “ask this Court to intervene collaterally in an ongoing court-martial and issue dictates to the military judge conducting the proceedings, in regard to the management of public disclosures. In light of the measures that defendants have taken to provide the press and the public with access to the ongoing court-martial proceedings, such preliminary, equitable relief is not warranted here.”
The defendants – military leaders in charge of the proceedings against Manning – had cautioned Hollander against intervening in the Manning court martial, questioning whether a U.S. District Court judge had jurisdiction over a military tribunal. Hollander disagreed with that notion.
While the federal court “is obliged to tread gingerly” when reviewing a military tribunal’s rulings, Hollander wrote, “it cannot ignore its responsibilities to uphold federal rights,” which in this case involve “fundamental constitutional values of openness of court proceedings.” She added that “such access is vital in our democracy, and helps to inspire public confidence in the integrity of such proceedings,” but in rejecting the plaintiff’s case, decided that sufficient public access to the Manning court martial is currently in place, even if it may not have been when the lawsuit was filed on May 22.
The military trial in the case of Wikileaker Bradley Manning continued earlier this week. An interesting legal point in the case has arisen, as Manning’s defense lawyers pushed back against tweets that the prosecution wanted introduced as evidence.
Allow me first to provide a little bit of background on why the tweets in question are even being discussed in the case.
One of the key issues in the case has been the relationship between Army Private First Class Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, and its founder Julian Assange. Prosecutors have alleged that Manning was influenced by Wikileaks to leak some of the confidential documents. (Manning has already admitted to leaking the documents, but has denied more serious accusations, including that he knowingly aided the enemy).
Previously released chat logs between Manning and ex-hacker Adrian Lamo, who earlier testified in the case, have established that Manning had been in contact with Wikileaks, but there remains contention between prosecution and defense about to what extent and when that contact occurred. They also continue to argue over whether or not Manning’s actions were influenced by Wikileaks, or if there was any collusion between the two. This has been a crucial point as well for federal prosecutors seeking to build a case against Julian Assange.
On Tuesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys argued over a couple of tweets in particular. One of those tweets, alleged to have been posted from the Wikileaks Twitter account on 7/8/2010, asks for the public to assist in providing .mil email addresses to Wikileaks. Another on 1/8/2010 posted by Wikileaks referenced having an encrypted video of a U.S. air attack (referring to what we now know was the “Collateral Damage” video, one of the items in the files leaked by Manning and later edited and published by Wikileaks). Prosecutors argue that this further emphasizes evidence of a leak, and that it should be admissible as part of its broader argument on the point.
Special Agent Mark Mander of the Army Criminal Investigative Command testified about how he went about determining the tweets were from Wikileaks’ account. In the past, he first went to the Wikileaks Twitter account directly and saw the tweet personally; then he more recently collected it from a Google cache version and the content in both was the same. Mander testified that Google cache is something that he has used regularly in his capacity as a CID agent investigating computer intrusions and computer crimes. He also explained a variety of other steps he took, in addition to obtaining cached versions of the tweets, to cross-check the authenticity of the tweets as being that of Wikileaks.
But Manning’s defense attorneys challenged the authenticity of such tweets.
“Anyone can create a Web page…that looks like WikiLeaks or that looks like Twitter,” argued defense attorney Captain Joshua Tooman when the government sought to admit a May 7, 2010 tweet from WikiLeaks seeking military Internet addresses, and the Web page of the Internet archive site archive.org that showed a 2009 WikiLeaks “Most Wanted” list of items it was seeking from the public.
Tooman said a government investigator had accessed the tweets indirectly, through Google, rather than directly through Twitter or WikiLeaks. He said the evidence failed to meet the test of authenticity since there was no way of knowing what the website looked like when the tweet or page was published.
The argument from the defense about the tweets’ authenticity raises an interesting legal point that could potentially influence similar arguments in civilian cases.
While it’s accurate that anyone can create a web page that mimics a legitimate site – in fact we’ve seen this in other circumstances that have been the subject of recent news reports, such as when Wikileaks Punked the NY Times – there surely needs to be some acceptable standard for authenticating tweets and other content that has since been archived and may no longer be available online. Most would assume that the standard tools regularly used to find archived content, like Google cache and the Internet Archive (formerly the WayBackMachine), would be acceptable in these instances, coupled of course with additional cross-checking. But the Manning defense team argues that it’s not.
If the judge determines that Google cache and other such tools are not an acceptable way to authenticate archived tweets, it poses an interesting question about how this might influence similar arguments going forward (not necessarily as precedent, but just as a general point).
You can read the entire day’s testimony in this particular argument in the unofficial court transcript for 6/18 provided by Freedom of the Press Foundation.
It will be interesting to see what the decision is on this matter. Proceedings resume in the Manning trial on June 26th.
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U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (C) is escorted in handcuffs as he leaves the courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland, in this June 6, 2012 file photo. (REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana/Files). Tweet · Bookmark and Share. Change text size for the story.
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