Day Three at the Manning Trial


Captain Casey Fulton testified at the end of yesterday’s Bradley Manning’s 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 Wikileaks.org 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 Wikileaks.org Web site?

But when defense lawyer David Coombs asked Capt. Fulton which 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 said 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 refer 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 in recess for the week and will resume Monday, June 10.

Nathan Fuller, a writer for the Bradley Manning Support Network, where this dispatch also appeared. He can be reached at Nathan@bradleymanning.org

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