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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Manning Supervisor Calls Into Question Government's Statements About WikiLeaks Plot (Day 3)

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Activist Post

We have spoken to Nathan Fuller at who has given us gracious permission to reprint his daily firsthand reports. Day 3 is posted below. We also will be adding commentary, as well as analyses from other sources to provide a constant update to what is happening in this essential trial for whistleblowers and their mission to reveal the truth.

At the heart of Day 3 was the inability of Bradley Manning's supervisor, Captain Casey Fulton, to issue the same statement of authority as the U.S. government that WikiLeaks = Al Qaeda. In fact, she couldn't mention WikiLeaks as a specific source at all, but only that social media was a known general hangout of America's enemies. As Amy Davidson at The New Yorker, illustrates: social media, Google, Google Maps and other news outlets could easily be "aiding the enemy" in much the same way.

“The prosecution has specified Al Qaeda and one of its affiliates, as well as a third organization whose identity, also disturbingly, it classified. (Overclassification is one of the scandals of this story.) At what point could “enemy” mean anyone who doesn’t like us? Can it mean us ourselves, at moments when we think that something has gone wrong, and has to be exposed?” 

The prosecutors intend to bring in a witness from the Navy Seals to testify that he found a published document from the WikiLeaks website in Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbotabad. But just how can one news agency, or public online forum control who their readers are and how can they avoid the government’s harassment if their readers are considered the “enemy” ? (Source)
Furthermore, it appears that some of what Manning was collating and preparing for distribution were specific assignments from his superiors and not a premeditated plot. This is fundamental in the government's central "aiding the enemy" argument. Rather, it seems that Bradley Manning had been cited often by other intelligence analysts for his extraordinary natural abilities. As Fuller states below, that means it is likely that Manning "was simply doing his job" -- and excelling at it. In short, he was working for the Army, not for WikiLeaks.

Many more essential details are provided by Nathan Fuller's excellent coverage of this trial, as it enters Day 3, and will recess until the 10th. This trial will determine whether telling the truth should be punishable by life in prison. It is a determination that is guaranteed to affect us all.

Manning supervisor undercuts aspect of aiding the enemy charge: trial report, day 3
By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. June 5, 2013.

On day 3 of Bradley Manning’s court martial, one of his supervisors didn’t mention WikiLeaks when asked about specific websites the military warned that the enemy might visit. Bradley’s fellow soldiers relayed that Iraq War Log documents didn’t reveal source names and that an Excel spreadsheet he created was done for intelligence work, not for WikiLeaks. Read reports from day 1 and day 2.

Captain Casey Fulton testified at the end of today’s Bradley Manning trial proceedings that there were no specific websites, other than social media sites, that intelligence analysts knew that America’s enemies visited. Capt. Fulton deployed to Iraq with Bradley in November 2009 and was in charge of Bradley’s intelligence section.

The government’s aiding the enemy charge relies on the claim that Bradley knew that giving intelligence to WikiLeaks meant giving it to Al Qaeda. Prosecutors have cited several times this Army Counterintelligence Special Report, which asks,
Will the Web site be used by FISS, foreign military services, foreign insurgents, or terrorist groups to collect sensitive or classified US Army information posted to the Web site?
But when defense lawyer David Coombs asked Capt. Fulton what websites the enemy was known to visit gathering intelligence, she merely said that it was general knowledge that the enemy goes to “all sorts” of websites. Pressed to name something specific, Capt. Fulton said that they were briefed on social media sites like Facebook, where people generally post lots of personal information, and Google and Google Maps. Once more Coombs asked if there were any specific websites that she and her fellow analysts had “actual knowledge” that the enemy visited, and Capt. Fulton said no. 

Intelligence work for Army, not WikiLeaks
She also provided more information on an Excel spreadsheet that Bradley created as an analyst in Baghdad, which included all of the Significant Activities (SigActs) later released in the Iraq War Logs. The government has referred to this spreadsheet as an indication that Bradley was culling information and preparing it to be sent to WikiLeaks. But Capt. Fulton said that the spreadsheet was used for an intelligence analyst assignment: she had asked him to compile all SigActs from the entire Iraq War to discern any patterns and increases or decreases in violence throughout the war. Bradley was simply doing his job.

That testimony corroborates what we heard from other witnesses today. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Hondo Hack and Warrant Officer Kyle Balonek testified to Bradley’s exceptional organizational abilities and impressive work for such an inexperienced analyst.

CW3 Hack rarely saw Bradley since they had opposite work shifts, so he looked into the shared drive where analysts posted reports and files they were researching. He called Bradley’s folder perhaps the most organized he’d ever seen, providing far more detail than more experienced analysts.

That revelation came after government questioning that attempted to paint Bradley as neglectful of his duties, presenting an email from him to CW3 Hack providing the name of a high-value target several months after he started his work. Prosecutors admitted when prompted by Judge Denise Lind that they were trying to show a dereliction of duty, and Coombs recalled their effort to characterize him as working for WikiLeaks when he should have been doing his job.

But CW3 Hack told the defense that he was frustrated with the entire intelligence analyst squad, and didn’t expect Bradley, as a junior analyst, to provide “actionable” information and in fact expected more from his more senior colleagues.

War Log reports didn’t reveal source names

CW Balonek was one of those more experienced analysts, who worked in Bradley’s division. He testified about keeping classified information secret, since he witnessed Bradley’s signing of the Non-Disclosure Agreement vowing to protect sensitive documents. He told government lawyers that it wasn’t common practice for those in Iraq to look at Afghanistan SigActs or other files, but he told the defense that there wasn’t any provision that he knew of prohibiting it. 

He gave more insight into what those SigActs or HUMINT (Human Intelligence) files contained. The SigActs typically provided the 5 Ws: who, what, when, where, and why an incident occurred, documenting basic information about incidents like IED attacks. Both types of files didn’t name U.S. sources by name—HUMINT reports cited sources by number, and SigActs would protect the source from identification as well. SigActs have some names, but those are witnesses, for example, to violent incidents, and not reliable sources with exact information. 

Supervisor Showman’s conversations with Bradley
Specialist Jihrleah Showman was Bradley’s team leader at Ft. Drum before he deployed to Iraq, interacting with him daily. She testified with slight but visible disdain about their personal conversations, which she said typically involved “his topic of choosing,” and that he talked about social interests including “martini parties” in the D.C. area, having friends with influence in the Pentagon, and his interest in shopping.

She also said he liked to talk about politics, and that he would often debate with others about broad U.S. policy and that she found him “very political” and on the “extreme Democratic side,” responding affirmatively to Coombs’s phrasing.

When she oversaw him at Ft. Drum, most soldiers uploaded video games, movies, and music to their computers, which weren’t explicitly authorized but which she believed her superiors knew about. Bradley was so “fluent” with computers, she said, that she asked him to install the military chat client mIRC to her computer, and that he once mentioned that military portals’ passwords “weren’t complicated” and that he could always get through them.

Because the government moved through its witnesses so quickly, court is recessed for the week and will return on Monday, June 10.

You can donate to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund Here.

As a part of today's update, we are also including this new trailer released that includes various celebrities and well-respected media such as Chris Hedges and Matt Taibbi. "I am Bradley Manning."

Nathan Fuller's new report, as well as our previous update, are available below...

Bradley Manning’s InfoSec write-up never mentioned WikiLeaks: trial report, day 2

by Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. June 4, 2013.

Day 2 of Bradley Manning’s court martial covered his training in information security, his chats with Adrian Lamo, and the forensic investigation of his digital media. Day 1 report here.

Witnesses in Bradley Manning’s trial today testified about the hardware retrieved from Manning’s workstation and housing unit in Iraq, the process for examining forensics of that hardware, his training on classified information, and his online chats with hacker and informant Adrian Lamo.

The proceedings moved quickly – the military’s subject matter expert told us that the government is two days ahead of schedule – because the defense continues to stipulate to expected testimony, which allows the government to simply read what a witness would have testified to without the need for cross-examination. Bradley took responsibility for releasing documents to WikiLeaks in late February 2013, so the defense doesn’t contest much of the basic forensic information for those releases.

Manning’s PowerPoint on Information Security doesn’t mention WikiLeaks

In the first pretrial hearing in December 2011, when the government claimed that Bradley Manning knew that giving documents to WikiLeaks meant giving them to Al Qaeda, it often referred to a PowerPoint presentation that Bradley created while in Army training, implying if not stating outright that in the presentation Bradley mentioned WikiLeaks specifically as a site America’s enemies use to collect information.

But today we saw that PowerPoint, while the parties questioned Troy Moul, the instructor from Bradley’s intelligence analyst training, and nowhere did it mention WikiLeaks – it merely claims that adversaries use the Internet generally to harvest information about U.S. operations. 

In fact, Moul admitted, “I had never even heard of the term WikiLeaks until I was informed [Bradley] had been arrested.”
Moul testified at greater length about the instruction Bradley received at Advanced Individual Training (AIT) before he became an intelligence analyst, including the potential damage releasing Secret information could cause and the Non-Disclosure Agreement he signed, vowing to keep classified information secret. But the government has to show that he knew that passing information to WikiLeaks meant he was indirectly passing documents to Al Qaeda. This PowerPoint clearly doesn’t make that connection. In yesterday’s opening arguments, the government discussed an Army Counterintelligence Special Report, which delves into whether is used by adversarial organizations – but as Marcy Wheeler writes,
The report itself is actually ambiguous about whether or not our adversaries were using WikiLeaked data. It both presents it as a possibility that we didn’t currently have intelligence on, then presumes it.
Adrian Lamo confirms chat log comments, Manning’s humanist values

Computer hacker and government informant Adrian Lamo testified about his instant messages with Bradley Manning from late May 2010, which he turned over to the authorities, WIRED magazine, and the Washington Post, leading to Bradley’s arrest.

Both lines of questioning tracked opening arguments. Responding to prosecutor questions, Lamo said his chats with Manning were encrypted, that no one tampered with or manipulated them before he handed them over to Army CID, and that Manning discussed disclosing classified information and communicating with Julian Assange. Lamo frequently gave maximalist and formal responses to government questions – explaining for example that Facebook is a ‘very popular social media website where lots of people connect.’ 

In cross-examination, defense lawyer David Coombs reviewed several lines of chats that Lamo then confirmed. He recalled that Bradley was a humanist, someone who wanted to investigate the truth, and someone who wanted to disclose information for the public good. He acknowledged that Bradley never indicated an intention to help America’s enemies or intimated any anti-American sentiment.

Lamo was then permanently excused from testifying. 

Evidentiary and intelligence analyst witnesses

Army Computer Crimes Investigative Unit Special Agents David Shaver and Mark Johnson testified briefly about their expertise with forensically investigating and handling digital media. They were established as experts and then temporarily excused, and I expect they’ll be called back multiple times. The government read more stipulations of expected testimony from those who stored Bradley’s hard drives and computers, and from a fellow student in the AIT.

The government is working its way through the chain of command and through Bradley’s time in the Army, in an apparent effort to show a history of disregard for classified information. But one such example turned up rather fruitless: in Moul’s testimony, prosecutors asked about his need to counsel Bradley for posting a video to YouTube in which he referenced “buzzwords” like “Top Secret,” and “SCIF” (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility). But when asked by the defense whether Bradley divulged (or even knew of any) classified information in the video, Moul said no. 

Tomorrow, Warrant Officer 1 Kyle Balonek (whom Alexa O’Brien profiled here), Specialist Jihrleah Showman (O’Brien’s profile) and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Hondo Hack (O’Brien’s profile) will testify, and then we’ll be recessed until Monday – likely because the proceedings moved too quickly to schedule witnesses any sooner.

You can donate to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund Here.

The extremely disturbing video below started it all. The video was made public through WikiLeaks, and was retitled to be now commonly known as "Collateral Murder." Since then, former Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, has given new voice to the issue of how far the government is willing to go to silence whistleblowers and make an example out of them through relentless hounding and prosecution.

Bradley Manning's case and treatment is at the heart of a new U.S. government mission that equates the revealing of truth as aiding and abetting the enemy. It is a tactic which might end up backfiring.

His trial, which could conclude with Manning spending the rest of his life in prison, started today with opening statements by the prosecution and defense.

The defense asserts that Manning sought to expose the horrific collateral damage of the war in which he was enlisted, and that he did so on humanitarian grounds. For this, he has been charged with transmitting over 700,000 classified documents, logs, and videos to the Internet via WikiLeaks and putting the troops and the nation in grave danger.
Manning was arrested at forward operating base Hammer outside Baghdad on 27 May 2010 on suspicion of being the source of the biggest leak of confidential state documents in US history. He faces 22 charges . . . 
Under the US military rule book, a soldier must be arraigned and his trial officially started within 120 days of him being put into captivity. (Source)

Manning has now been held for well over 1,000 days. The slow trial was called by Manning's lawyer "an absolute mockery" of his rights. His treatment while in custody led 250 legal scholars to sign a letter to the Obama administration that what Manning was being subjected to was tantamount to torture.
Under the terms of his detention, he is kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, checked every five minutes under a so-called "prevention of injury order" and stripped naked at night apart from a smock. (Source)
The Army has essentially been treating Manning as an enemy combatant. Statements by the Army's prosecuting attorney clarify the military's view of the seriousness of Manning's alleged crimes, and presumably have justified his harsh treatment.
“This is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of classified documents and dumped them onto the Internet, into the hands of the enemy—material he knew, based on his training, would put the lives of fellow soldiers at risk,” said Army Capt. Joe Morrow, who is prosecuting the case. (Source)
Manning already has pleaded guilty to 10 charges of espionage, computer fraud, and violation of additional laws for which he could receive up to 20 years in prison.

The current trial will determine the far greater crime of deliberately aiding the enemy, for which he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. The prosecution emphasized that Osama bin Laden obtained some of the information that Manning released, demonstrating aid to the enemy.

The government's hardline in pursuing Manning as an enemy of the state might show more about the level of embarrassment the Obama administration has endured, as opposed to a sincere effort to assure Americans that Manning indeed put the nation at great risk. Especially since, as noted by the Washington Post, this military trial will be the biggest since the My Lai massacre of the Vietnam War in which 504 unarmed men, women, and children were killed by American soldiers after many were raped and tortured.
Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said he was shocked the government proceeded after the plea offer. “It is like hitting Manning with a sledgehammer,” he said. “They have him for 20 years, and then they go for life. Twenty years is enough for a pound of Manning’s flesh.” (Source)
There will be no public oversight of this trial due to its classified nature, which should only enhance the secrecy for which the government has been criticized throughout Manning's captivity. Unless there is a plea arrangement, the trial is expected to last for 3 to 4 months. Interestingly, Manning today reasserted his wish to a trial by Judge Denise Lind, and not a jury.

We will update this post as more information about Manning's trial becomes available.

Please leave your thoughts below if you believe Manning was presenting a threat to America, or if you agree with Manning that he wanted only to “spark a domestic debate over the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.

PDF of transcripts Day 1 can be found Here:

Week of Action June 1-8: Schedule

Relevant videos:

Other sources:

Updated June 5th, 2013
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