Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Computer Hacker to Testify in Manning Court-Martial Trial

June 4, 2013

Computer Hacker to Testify in Manning Court-Martial Trial


FORT MEADE, Md. — Adrian Lamo, the former computer hacker who alerted federal authorities that Pfc. Bradley Manning was the likely source for vast archives of leaked diplomatic and military documents to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks in 2010, is expected to testify on Tuesday during the second day of the court-martial trial of Private Manning, an Army intelligence analyst.

Mr. Lamo is the third witness scheduled to testify on Tuesday, a government lawyer said. In an initial morning session, prosecutors introduced two forensic computer analysts — one former, one current — with the computer crimes investigative unit of the Army’s criminal investigative division. The two, David Shaver and Mark Johnson, examined hard drives and other electronic evidence used by Private Manning and are expected to return to the witness stand repeatedly throughout the trial.

In addition to establishing his role and expertise, Mr. Johnson also testified that he examined an external hard drive taken from Private Manning’s bunk area in Iraq and found a text file with contact information for WikiLeaks that was created in late November 2009, among other matters. Under cross-examination, Mr. Johnson said he had not found any materials suggesting that Private Manning hated America, sympathized with terrorists, or had received any unusual fund transfers.

The trial opened on Monday with dueling high-concept opening statements: the prosecutor offered a portrayal of Private Manning as a traitor who recklessly endangered his fellow soldiers, while the defense said he was a naïve idealist who was trying to make the world a better place.

The second day began with a sharp drop-off from Monday in the presence of news organizations and protesters, as the trial shifts toward chain-of-custody issues and other evidentiary matters, though Mr. Lamo’s testimony about his online chats with the person who turned out to be Private Manning — and his decision to turn him in — could be a highlight.

The trial, which could last 12 weeks, is highly unusual because Private Manning confessed in detail in February to being WikiLeaks’ source and pleaded guilty to nine lesser versions — and one full version — of the charges he is facing, which has exposed him to up to 20 years in prison.

But the plea was not part of any deal, and the government is pressing forward with a trial because it wants to convict him — based on essentially the same facts — of 20 more serious versions of the charges, like espionage and aiding the enemy, which could result in a life sentence.

Private Manning has admitted being the source for archives of front-line incident reports from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, dossiers on detainees being held without trial at the Guantánamo Bay prison, State Department cables from American diplomats around the world and a video of a 2007 shooting by an American helicopter of a group of mostly unarmed men, including two Reuters staffer members, in Baghdad.

Still, a small number of facts remain in dispute. Among them, prosecutors have accused Private Manning of also being the source for some 74,000 e-mail addresses and other such personal data about American troops in Iraq that someone sent to WikiLeaks after the group solicited military e-mail addresses on Twitter; it is less clear what the “whistle-blower” rationale for that leak would be.

Private Manning has pleaded not guilty to that charge and did not mention the database in his confession. His defense lawyer, David Coombs, also did not mention it in his opening statement, which portrayed his client as carefully selecting what to release out of a desire to help the public better understand the world — including the realities of war and secret diplomatic dealings — while avoiding documents whose disclosure could cause harm.

In the prosecution’s opening statement on Monday, Capt. Joe Morrow said the forensic evidence would show that the e-mail address database had been downloaded on a computer Private Manning had used.

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