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Manning Trial, Day Two: Power Points and Chat Logs

Witnesses in Bradley Manning’s trial yesterday 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 WikiLeaks.org 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 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.

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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