With the identity of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower behind disclosures on National Security Agency top secret surveillance programs, forming a backdrop that dominated the news, Pfc. Bradley Manning’s trial entered its second week.
Another whistleblower, who the military has aggressively prosecuted for releasing US government information to WikiLeaks, the trial received minimal attention from media this week. The number of reporters in the media center was down to around ten. Both The Guardian and the New York Times were missing in action.
The following are some of the significant developments that occurred in the trial against the soldier who released US government information to WikiLeaks.
—Defense supports crowd-funded stenographers’ presence at the trial
“We believe that this enforces Pfc. Manning’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial and also impacts on a First Amendment right for the press to accurately keep track of what happens in the court-martial,” defense attorney David Coombs declared on June 10.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) raised tens of thousands of dollars to send stenographers to the trial to produce transcripts, since the United States military refuses to make transcripts available. They submitted a letter to military judge Army Col. Denise Lind on the first day of the trial that was supported by major media organizations. The letter requested press passes to allow professional court stenographers access to the media room” so they could “transcribe the public portions of the court martial.”
The judge said, “In light of the public interest in this case, in light of the unique circumstances of this case, in light of the assertion by PFC Manning that this stenographer procedure will further his rights to a Sixth Amendment right to a public trial and also obviously further the public’s First Amendment right to a public trial, the court has ordered the government to arrive at some kind of accommodation to allow stenography of the proceedings of this trial.”
—Army Counterintelligence Center senior analyst testifies on center’s report on WikiLeaks
Sheila Glenn, a senior analyst with the cyber counterintelligence assessment branch, testified on her role in the production of an Army Counterintelligence Center (ACIC) report in 2008 titled, “Wikileaks.org—An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?” The report was disclosed to WikiLeaks by Manning and was self-initiated, meaning a few analysts thought it might be good to have a report on this potential “threat.”
The prosecution had Glenn read the following: “It must be presumed that Wikileaks organization have or will receive sensitive or classified documents in the future. It must also be presumed that foreign adversaries will review and assess any DoD or classified information posted on the Wikileaks.org website.”
When the defense cross-examined her, she admitted the analysts could only “presume” but not “confirm” that the website was used by foreign intelligence, foreign military services, foreign insurgents or terrorist groups to collect sensitive or classified US Army information. She played a game of semantics saying, “Not necessarily that I don’t know for sure. I cannot confirm the source is accurate,” but did concede, “We couldn’t confirm it at that time that they visited Wikileaks.”
And, at one point, Glenn read for the record that the impact of releasing this report would be “insight into a successful asymmetric warfare tactic technique and protection operation against US forces and coalition forces.”
—No connection between Manning & Jason Katz, who has been investigated by the Grand Jury into WikiLeaks
David Shaver of the Army Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU) conducted forensic examinations of an employee of Brookhaven National Laboratory, Jason Katz, who prosecutors have alleged was somehow involved in the release of a Garani air strike video. Shaver performed forensics, looked at emails and searched the hard drive of Katz’s computer for anything related to Manning. He did not find any emails or chats.
“And in fact your investigation revealed absolutely no connection whatsoever between Jason Katz and my client??” defense attorney Captain Joshua Tooman asked. “That is correct,” Shaver answered.
Katz was investigated by the FBI and subject of a grand jury empaneled in Alexandria, Virginia. He is believed to have been involved in working to decrypt a video for WikiLeaks. The video on his computer has been known to not match any video that Manning ever disclosed.
Shaver also testified that none of the logs he reviewed contained any proof that Manning transmitted the Granai video in November 2009. The testimony that Manning has no connection to Katz and that he did not transmit a video in November 2009 undermines the prosecution, which has tried to make it seem that Manning immediately started working on behalf of WikiLeaks when he first deployed to Iraq.
—Apache pilot CWO5 Jon LaRue stipulates “Collateral Murder” revealed tactics, techniques & procedures to adversaries
An Apache helicopter pilot, who reviewed the video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack on Baghdad that Manning disclosed and WikiLeaks released as the “Collateral Murder” video, stipulated in testimony that the video contained tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs)—”sensitive Army aviation information.”
He reviewed the video and found that the AH-64D digital display or “high-action display” in the video “shows the use of a laser for ranging, altitude and air speed. The laser also shows angles of engagement. The ranges and attack approaches are TTPs.” And, according to LaRue, “Adversarial forces who know TTPs could be able to anticipate United States operations and the adversarial forces will be able to plan more effective attacks as a result.”
“The high action display also shows the heading tape, which reveals the sensor and the sensor’s acquisition of targets and other information,” according to his testimony. “This display of the sensor in action could be used to determine the limitations of the sensor’s capabilities. Based on my experience and training, the sensor’s capabilities are sensitive Army aviation information. The sensor also reveals the position of the helicopter during an operation, which could be used to determine more aspects of TTPs. TTPs are a puzzle, and revealing any piece could make solving the puzzle easier for an adversary.”
This is the video where US soldiers gun down two Reuters employees, a Good Samaritan pulling up in a van, who is trying to save the wounded and then also wound two children inside the van. And Manning said in his statement in court on February 28, “The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.”
—Prosecutors face objections from the defense as they try to use an Acceptable Use Policy Manning did not sign against him
During cross-examination of Cpt. Thomas Cherepko, a Brigade Automations Officer in Manning’s unit, prosecutors attempted to use a sample Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) Manning had not signed as they elicited testimony on whether Manning exceeded authorized access on his computer. The defense objected because three of the counts Manning faces “rise and fall” on whether he violated the AUP.
Manning is accused of “knowingly” exceeding “his authorized access on a Secret Internet Protocol Router network (SIPRNet) computer” in Specification 2 and Specification 3 to “obtain information” that was classified. These are both alleged violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). (Note: Specifications are like counts.)
It was one of the more contentious moments in the trial so far and took place on June 12. To read more about the scene that unfolded in military court, go here.