Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 3 & 4 of Manning's hearing

The Dissenter.

Bradley Manning Pre-Trial Hearing: Live Blog, Day 4

By: Kevin Gosztola Monday December 19, 2011 8:36 am


Bradley Manning’s Article 32 hearing or, as it is more generally called, pre-trial hearing resumes today with the government continuing to present the evidence it thinks it has to support the prosecution of Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking classified information to WikiLeaks.

Members of the prosecution include Captain Ashden Fein, Captain Joe Morrow and Captain Angel Overgaard and Captain Hunter Whyte. Members of the defense include Mr. David Coombs, Major Matthew Kemkes and Captain Paul Bouchard.

A quick recap of what happened on Day 3:

Two witnesses invoked their Article 31 rights to not testify in court. SFC Paul Adkins and WO1 Kyle J. Balonek refused to testify. Manning’s defense lawyer, David Coombs, objected and asserted based on certain codes that the hearing are expected to follow Adkins and Balonek did not have proper grounds to invoke their Article 31 rights and essentially “plead the Fifth.” Here is a full report with more details on this and the significance of Adkins not testifying.

Intelligence officer had a conversation with Manning on “Collateral Murder” video. Captain Casey Fulton was asked by the prosecution: “Are you aware of a video commonly referred to as the “Collateral Murder” video?” Fulton had a conversation with Manning in April. The video, Fulton said didn’t “make military look very good” and she wanted to talk to soldiers about how that affects us in a deployed environment. They had a group conversation about the event. Manning came up after and said he thought it was “the same video” on the shared drive. She thought it wasn’t and was shorter in duration. She had only seen the video once though and needed to watch them side-by side.

She said a fellow analyst of Manning’s (whom Manning at one point in his deployment got into an incident with named Ms. Jihrleah Showman) had it on her computer. She was playing it before April 1. It was on her work station on the SIPRnet system.

First closed portion of the hearing happens. The portion is held to determine whether classified information can be presented in a closed portion. The process involves about 45 minutes of back-and-forth on the information the prosecution wants to present in a closed session. The defense can object to the relevance of the information or holding a closed portion to go over the classified information. In the end, the IO chose to close a portion of the proceedings because the importance of secrecy outweighed the public’s right to know (he said something like this to the court). The defense objected to closing the hearing. And this is why at about 10:00 AM EST this morning the hearing will be closed.

Captain Thomas Chirepko illuminated how lax information security was in Manning’s SCIF. Chirepko informed higher ranking officers that movies and games were present on the shared drive and unauthorized. He didn’t remember what the officers said in response to this information. He was not aware of any actions being taken. The practice of adding media didn’t stop. There was no US Code of Military Justice disciplining as a result of unauthorized media on the drive.

David Shaver of the Army CCIU presents forensic evidence that is believed to indicate when Manning downloaded classified information to his computer. He was able to figure out when keyword searches were conducted for WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Iceland, etc. He was able to look at logs for Intel Link, a search engine for intelligence analysts that basically works like Google. And, through examination, he was able to discern when a program, WGET, was used to download ”Collateral Murder,” JTF GTMO detainee assessment reports and US State Embassy cables on his computer (10,000 US State Embassy cables were found on a computer Manning used). Also, a file with video, JPEGs and PDFs was found containing information on the Granai air strike known as the Farah incident in Afghanistan.

The proceedings for Monday, December 19, are to begin at 9:00 AM EST. It is unknown how long the proceedings will run today. There will be, as stated above, a closed portion of proceedings at about 10 or 10:30 AM ET.

I am in the Media Operations Center (MOC) at Ft. Meade. I am unable to post live updates while court is in session but check back here for updates throughout the morning and afternoon. I will be posting during breaks and when classified information is being reviewed (because press and the public are not allowed to follow these portions of the hearing). Also, follow me at @kgosztola for quick updates.

1:18 PM — Recess/lunch break is over. Maybe we will find out what the “conference” Coombs called for was about.

1:17 PM — During this long recess, I was invited to appear on TV. I will be leaving Ft. Meade at 4 pm to go to DC. I’m appearing on The Young Turks w/ Cenk Uygur and just before that “The Alyona Show” on RT.

12:04 PM — CCIU contractor Mark Johnson looked for an instant messenger program on Manning’s personal computer. He found ADM for the MAC OS 10 system. The messenger is able to work with different networks like AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, etc. He looked at the user profile for Pfc. Bradley Manning. They found chat logs between Manning and Lamo.

11:54 AM — ACLU will be in court in Boston tomorrow to challenge the unauthorized and suspicionless search and seizure of Bradley Manning supporter David House’s laptop. In a press release the ACLU states:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Massachusetts will be in federal court Tuesday challenging the suspicionless search and seizure of electronics belonging to activist David House when he entered the U.S. after a vacation. The lawsuit charges that the government targeted House solely on the basis of his lawful association with the Bradley Manning Support Network, an organization created to raise funds for the legal defense of the soldier charged with leaking material to WikiLeaks.

In November 2010, Department of Homeland Security agents stopped House at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and questioned him about his political activities and beliefs. Officials then confiscated his laptop computer, camera and a USB drive and did not return them for nearly seven weeks. House’s detention and interrogation and the seizure of his electronic papers and personal effects had no apparent connection with the protection of U.S. borders or the enforcement of customs laws.

More details here.

11:53 AM — Recessed, then re-opened to announce  a recess until 1:15 pm ET

11:20 AM — Recess currently, brief rundown on what’s going on.

The defense asked for a “conference” when the chat logs were brought up by the prosecution, which was cross-examining Mark Johnson, a CCIU contractor who did forensic testing on Manning’s personal computer—an Apple MacBook Pro. Johnson was tasked with looking for chat logs between Manning and Lamo on his computer and then any US government classified information. (More details soon.)

11:17 AM – Closed portion ends, questioning of Shaver continues.

The closed portion involving classified information ended and the defense continued to question Shaver. It is established that SA Shaver testifies did not check the US State Embassy cables published by WikiLeaks to see if they all matched US State Embassy cables on Manning’s computer. (Also, more on that soon.)

Receiving multiple requests for interviews I have to field – Alyona Show, Al Jazeera’s “Listening Post”

11:15 AM – Lt. Dan Choi removed from Manning trial hearing.

According to an email from Choi (I asked him what happened), they accused him of “heckling.” He said he was not. He told them they “could not prevent me from wearing the uniform.” He held me at the front gate with Daniel Ellsberg for 10 minutes because of the uniform. They claimed it was not about that.. Choi said “you can charge me if you want but I’ve done nothing wrong.” Then, they put handcuffs on Choi and used 6 MPs to pin him and tell him to not come back to the trial “unless there’s a new proceeding.”

9:20 AM — Hearing has yet to resume, though it was scheduled to start twenty minutes ago.

IO Paul Almanza, the presiding investigative officer, appears to be meeting with the defense and prosecution in his office. The IO has definitely developed an adversarial relationship with Coombs, the primary defense lawyer for Manning.

They don’t begin on time. Back-and-forth happens behind closed doors and we don’t get to know what is happening. Motions are filed that are not being brought up in court so we cannot know why they have been filed, who filed them and whether they will go anywhere. And, on top of that, the IO effectively limits the latitude Coombs has to question witnesses by sustaining objections by the prosecution to Coombs’ efforts to use witnesses to elicit “discoveries” or get out new information that could benefit his client.

8:47 AM — Bradley Manning Support Network issues statement on closing the hearing today.

Shortly before 6:00 PM on the third day of Bradley Manning’s Article 32 pre-trial hearing, Lt. Colonel Paul Almanza, the investigating officer presiding over the hearing, permitted the government’s request to remove journalists and the public from hearings set for today. An objection by PFC Manning’s lead attorney, David Coombs, was noted in the record without any further action.

The Bradley Manning Support Network is deeply troubled by the imposition of an unexplained media blackout without any avenue for redress. The investigating officer has already prevented Manning’s defense from considering internal administration assessments that found these materials did not pose a threat to national security. Now he is seeking to prevent journalists and the public from reporting on testimony related to materials that are already in the public domain. Notably, even members of the public who hold relevant security clearances are expected to be removed from viewing the proceedings. Amy Jacobsen of the Center for Constitutional Rights and cooperating counsel for WikiLeaks — who holds the highest level of Top Secret security clearance — is also expected to be denied entrance. We are concerned that representatives of unnamed “relevant government agencies” will be permitted to remain in the room. Lt. Col. Almanza should at a minimum be transparent about which government agencies he has deemed relevant to this matter. In particular, he needs to disclose whether he will permit representatives of the Department of Justice to remain in the room during the blackout. The Department of Justice is the investigating officer’s permanent employer and is also conducting an ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks.

8:30 AM I was slated to appear on Democracy Now! but due to my commitment to be here on base in time to cover the proceedings that were to begin at 9 am, I was unsure of how to do the interview over a video stream here on the Ft. Meade base. In any case, they went with a good line-up. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, who has been covering the hearing, talked about how a lot of discussion at the pre-trial had occurred in private. He said he was surprised by the “complete absence within the unit in which Manning worked” of control over what intelligence analysts were doing. Following Pilkington, the show had hacker Adrian Lamo come on to discuss the pre-trial and say he was surprised by the “lack of operational security” Manning had employed in covering his tracks. He said he was surprised the defense was acting like it can prevail. And, he suggested Bradley Manning went for a massive data dump instead of going through proper avenues to be a legitimate military whistleblower.

8:27 AM There are about 12 witnesses still to be called. This number is based on the preliminary witness list of approved witnesses. Nine are prosecution witnesses, three are government. This includes David Shaver, who continues to testify today.

8:25 AM Hearing will begin shortly. The session will be open with David Shaver being cross-examined by the defense. It will then close and the media has been told that this could take a while because the government will present and then the defense will cross-examine.

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