Tuesday, December 20, 2011

US rests case against Bradley Manning

Dec. 20, 2011 Associated Press

FORT MEADE, Maryland — The U.S. government ended its case Tuesday
against the Army intelligence analyst blamed for the biggest leak of
national secrets in American history.

The prosecution called its final six witnesses in the case against alleged
WikiLeaks source Pfc. Bradley Manning, which was being followed by the
defense calling witnesses and closing arguments. Then a military officer
will decide whether to recommend that the 24-year-old be court-martialed
on 22 charges, including aiding the enemy. If convicted, Manning could
face life in prison.

Manning is accused of illegally leaking a trove of secret information to
WikiLeaks, a breach that rattled U.S. foreign relations and, according to
the government, imperiled valuable military and diplomatic sources.

The military has released a text file, purportedly discovered on a data
card owned by Manning, boldly stating the importance of data that would
make its way to the secrets-spilling website WikiLeaks.

"This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time,
removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century
asymmetric warfare. Have a good day," Manning wrote, according to
digital-crimes investigator David Shaver.

Almost 500,000 classified battlefield reports were also on the card,
Shaver said.

A half-dozen, buttoned-down young men and women favoring charcoal gray
suits have come and gone behind the prosecutor's table — apparently
representatives of the Justice Department, CIA or other governments

Across the room were Manning's supporters, including a long-haired young
man representing Occupy Wall Street and a pony-tailed, military veteran
wearing a "Free Bradley Manning" T-shirt.

Attorneys for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange observed, as well as a
representative of Amnesty International. A half-dozen journalists were
present, alongside people in camouflage uniforms. They included the
presiding officer, all three prosecutors, two of the defense lawyers and
military police stationed along the back and side walls.

Until Monday, the defense largely focused on painting Manning as an
emotionally troubled gay man serving during the Army's "don't ask, don't
tell" era, and arguing that the classified material proved harmless in the
open. Manning's lawyers have yet to acknowledge or deny his responsibility
for leaking of hundreds of thousands of U.S. war and diplomatic cables and
a classified military video of an American helicopter attack in Iraq that
killed 11 men.

His lawyers argue the troubled young private should never have had access
to classified material and that workplace security was inexplicably lax.

The prosecution said evidence showed that Manning communicated directly
with Assange and bragged to someone else about leaking video of a 2007
helicopter attack to WikiLeaks.

Investigators pointed to one May 2010 exchange between Manning and a
mathematician named Eric Schmiedl.

"Are you familiar with WikiLeaks?" Manning allegedly asked.

"Yes, I am," Schmiedl wrote.

"I was the source of the July 12, 2007, video from the Apache Weapons Team
which killed the two journalists and injured two kids," Manning wrote,
according to the prosecution.

Manning seemed to take in Monday's proceedings calmly.

Paul Almanza, the presiding officer, twice removed spectators and
reporters from the hearing Monday for sessions dealing with classified
information. By ruling the leaked diplomatic and military information
should somehow remain secret, even though it has been published by media
around the world, Almanza undermined the defense argument that no harm was

Manning supporters fumed. His defense also challenged thousands of cables
found on Manning's workplace computers, arguing that some didn't match
those published by WikiLeaks and that others couldn't be matched to the
young private's user profile.

The 24-year-old Army intelligence analyst is a computer whiz who worked as
a civilian software developer. He was the go-to guy for plotting data
points and creating Excel spreadsheets in Baghdad, an intelligence officer

But he may have met his match in the info-tech gumshoes who bored deep
into several computer hard drives in search of incriminating evidence.
Shaver and civilian contractor Mark Johnson are products of military or
intelligence agencies with extensive government-funded training in their

They said they found evidence Manning downloaded and e-mailed nearly half
a million sensitive battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan,
hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and video of the helicopter
attack that WikiLeaks shared with the world and dubbed "Collateral

The digital forensic examiners littered their testimonies with the terms
of their trade. Text files. Zip files. Hash values. Allocated and
unallocated disk space. And much, much more.

They frequently mentioned Wget — pronounced "double-you-get" — a computer
program for finding and downloading large amounts of data. They talked
about Base64, a program that compresses digital documents for speedy
transmission by removing all the spaces and punctuation marks.

"It may look like gibberish," Shaver conceded.

One defense lawyer, Capt. Paul Bouchard, sometimes seemed baffled by the
technical terms. On Monday, Shaver politely corrected him after Bouchard
repeatedly referred to server files as logs during a cross-examination.
Lead defense attorney David Coombs looked displeased.

An exchange between Bouchard and Johnson drew chuckles from the gallery.
The defense lawyer, seeking indications that supervisors ignored signs of
emotional distress, asked Johnson if his forensic probe of files and
electronic data had turned up any evidence of Manning's odd behavior.

"Odd behavior?" Johnson replied matter-of-factly. "No sir, it's a computer

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