After more than four and a half hours of proceedings, the government wrapped up its closing argument in the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier being prosecuted for disclosing information to WikiLeaks. Prosecutors called him an “anarchist,” a “hacker,” and a “traitor” before the argument was over.
Military prosecutors also went into explicit detail about how they believed he had “aided the enemy” and wantonly caused to be published intelligence on the Internet. The prosecutors went through each piece of information he is charged with disclosing without authorization and detailed how it had been compromised.
Quoting chat logs between hacker and government informant Adrian Lamo and Manning, Major Ashden Fein said that he expected “worldwide anarchy” would occur after releasing the diplomatic cables and these were not the “words of a humanist but the words of an anarchist.” He also said he was a “hacker” and not a humanist.
Fein highlighted a “disloyal” remark Manning made to his supervisor, Jihrleah Showman, which she testified about last week—that the flag meant nothing to Manning. The remark was never proven without a doubt to have been said to Manning. Showman never put this down in writing in a counseling statement, as she should have done.
Showman also had said Manning had no allegiance to the United States. Fein repeated this and said that these were “similar words to those who are an anarchist.” He said Manning was an “anarchist whose agenda was made ultimately clear almost immediately when he deployed to Iraq.”
The government argued that Manning had the knowledge and ability and desire to harm the United States in its war effort. “He was not a whistleblower. He was a traitor.”
These terms—”anarchist,” “hacker,” “traitor”—all were clearly charged terms used pejoratively with the intent that this would undercut the way the defense has tried to present Manning as a kind of conscientious and idealistic soldier who found it was necessary to blow the whistle and reveal certain documents.
For the “aiding the enemy” charge, which if convicted could lead to maximum sentence of life in prison, Fein argued that Manning had deliberately transmitted the “Collateral Murder” video, certain State Department information and military incident reports from Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said Manning had the “general evil intent necessary to aid the enemy and evidence shows he acted voluntarily and deliberately with his disclosures” when he allowed over 700,000 documents to end up in the hands of the enemy.
His daily work product established that he had knowledge of the “enemy threat.” In his research, he would have read government reports that “warned repeatedly of the use of WikiLeaks.”
Through training, he would have received “detailed instruction on enemies of the United States,” what they are capable of and why the US keeps classified information from their possession. He knew to always assume that adversaries would read posted material.
In Iraq, he did “predictive analysis” as an analyst and studied enemy trends to be able to predict their future activities. He would have been aware that the enemy engages in similar pattern analysis about tactics, techniques and procedures and movements.
The government suggested that Manning knew about information mining and the use of propaganda by the enemy. He had “actual knowledge leading to the only reasonable inference” that by releasing to WikiLeaks he was giving information to the enemy and specifically Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
“The public included the enemy and he knew that as an intelligence analyst,” the government stated. The government added that this was not public data. It was US government information that Manning was trained to use.
The defense likes to believe Manning wanted to spark change and reform. Fein said that Manning never once mentioned protecting the American public or the United States in any of his emails. He was “skilled at creating post-hoc justifications for actions that were not based in facts.”
He highlighted how Osama bin Laden had requested copies of war logs and State Department cables. He mentioned that a “terrorist video” was produced, which included excerpts of the “WikiLeaks edited video” of the Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 that killed two Reuters journalists.
The information has to be “helpful” in order to convict him of “aiding the enemy.” To that, prosecutors argued that the war logs contained “tactical information on how we fight our wars and inflict damage down range.” It contained information on individuals units and who deployed from 2004 to 2009 to execute the wartime mission.
Also, improvised explosive devices are not unique to Iraq and so any factual information on them could be used from this material to develop their own tactics, techniques and procedures for attacks.
“Media perception is important to Al Qaeda and any event that places Al Qaeda in a positive light or in negative light is beneficial to Al Qaeda,” Fein stated, when referencing how the edited version of the Apache helicopter attack video appeared in a “terrorist video.” It “obviously” was a video that “terrorists” could “use as propaganda.”
The release of diplomatic cables created events that undermined “cooperation of foreign leaders.” It “created an environment where terrorists’ ideology” could excel.
In the concluding part of the closing argument, the prosecutors went further than they ever have in assassinating Manning’s patriotism and character and said that he broke ranks with his nation. He focused on releasing classified information rather than “war fighting.”
What he did was done in a “calculated manner and for his own purposes.” He thought he could get away with what he did. He was trained and trusted to use multiple intelligence systems to provide real-time information to leaders on the battlefield and yet he chose to indiscriminately and systematically harvest information for WikiLeaks “during a time of war and while deployed to Iraq.”
Manning showed “no loyalty” when utilizing his “unfettered access to these government documents.”
That was the essence of the government’s closing argument. It was aggressive and over-the-top in places. Parts were sometimes very repetitive, but it was done to convince the military judge that he was not engaged in providing information to WikiLeaks for the good of humanity. If she believed he had no good intentions and wanted fame or notoriety, as Fein said multiple times, it would be reasonable to convict him of “aiding the enemy.”
The defense did not give their closing argument. That closing argument will be given tomorrow, Friday, July 26.