Sunday, December 18, 2011

Soldier's gender identity issues raised in WikiLeaks case/Continuing coverage of the Article 32 hearing


Soldier’s gender identity issues raised in WikiLeaks case

By Ellen Nakashima and Julie Tate, Published: December 17, 2011

Pfc. Bradley Manning was a deeply troubled soldier struggling with issues of gender identity whose alleged leaking of classified material to WikiLeaks could have been prevented by superiors.

He was also a gifted intelligence analyst who had received extensive training in proper handling of classified information and had been reprimanded once for breaching the rules.

Those were the clashing portraits of the same young man drawn by the defense and prosecution on the first full day of testimony in a hearing room at Maryland’s Fort Meade to decide whether Manning, who spent his 24th birthday in court, should face a court-martial for the alleged leak.

Manning, a former analyst in Baghdad, was detained in May 2010 and could face the death penalty or life in prison if he is tried and found guilty of all 22 counts of violating military code with which he is charged.

Under cross-examination, a series of government witnesses acknowledged lapses by Manning’s superiors, including a failure to pull his security clearance and deny him access to the classified computers from which he is alleged to have leaked information.

In April, Manning sent an e-mail to a superior, Master Sgt. Paul D. Adkins, saying that he was suffering from a gender identity disorder. He included a picture of himself dressed as a woman and described how it had affected his ability to do his job, to interact with others and to “think,” according to Capt. Steven Lim, military intelligence officer in the 1st Army East Division at Fort Meade.

But Adkins did not share that e-mail with Lim until after Manning was arrested, Lim acknowledged.

Manning also had a Facebook page under the name of Breanna Manning and two e-mail addresses that corresponded to that name, said retired Sgt. 1st Class Troy Bettencourt, an Army investigator in the case.

Bettencourt said he knew that Manning was gay, and that he exhibited “odd” behavior. Manning had been punished for assaulting a supervisor, Bettencourt added, and at one point was found in a room “curled up in a ball.”

Adkins apparently knew that Manning was unstable even before Manning was deployed to Iraq in fall 2009, but did not recommend that he stay behind because the Army was short on intelligence analysts. In December 2009, Manning became “furious” during a counseling session in Baghdad, flipped over a table, damaged a government computer and had to be restrained, and then “went for a weapons rack,” defense attorney David E. Coombs said.

“Would you consider this a minor incident?” Coombs asked Lim.

“Probably not,” said Lim, who was the head of Manning’s military intelligence section in Baghdad with the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division.

Lim acknowledged that such behavior could have resulted in a “derogatory” report in Manning’s file resulting in the pulling of his security clearance.

By airing superiors’ failure to address Manning’s personal issues, the defense team is “trying to discover all the failures of the chain of command which would help them in setting up the mitigation argument for the sentencing portion of the proceeding,” said David D. Velloney, a military law expert at Regent University School of Law. But they probably would not suffice to beat the charges, Velloney said. Those charges include aiding the enemy and violating the Espionage Act by wrongfully causing U.S. intelligence to be published on the Internet.

Coombs is also likely “continuing his shots across the bow in an effort to influence the government to soften its position on the seriousness of the charges against Manning,” Velloney said.

As an all-source intelligence analyst, Manning received 16 weeks of advanced intelligence training at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, said retired Sgt. 1st Class Brian Madrid, who was one of his instructors. While there, however, Manning posted a video on YouTube talking about his daily life at Huachuca, including “using buzzwords such as classified, top secret,” Madrid said. Manning was given “corrective training,” including doing an oral report for his company on information security.

The hearing also uncovered previously unknown details in the case.

Special Agent Mark Mander with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division said that Adrian Lamo, a convicted hacker whose online chats with Manning led investigators to Manning, led investigators to a former Energy Department employee who Lamo said helped WikiLeaks decrypt a military video provided by Manning.

The employee, Jason Katz, was fired from Brookhaven National Labs in March 2010 for “inappropriate computer activity,” Mander said. The video, of an airstrike on an Afghan village that killed dozens of civilians, has not been posted by WikiLeaks.

Mander also said that Manning’s aunt, Debra Van Alstyne, told him that Manning had contacted her while he was in Iraq to ask her how WikiLeaks’ release of a 2007 Army video showing an Apache helicopter firing on civilians was “being perceived in the United States.” After Manning was detained, he again contacted her and asked her to post a reference on his Facebook page to the Apache video, Mander said.

Mander said that when investigators made a second visit to Van Alstyne’s home in Potomac, where Manning had lived before joining the Army, they recovered a memory card containing classified information and other digital media.

In the audience were two attorneys for WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. A federal grand jury is investigating Assange’s role in the leaks, and on Friday, Coombs suggested that the Justice Department has an interest in obtaining a plea bargain in the Manning case and using Manning “as one of the many witnesses to go after Julian Assange.”

Jennifer Robinson, an attorney for WikiLeaks, said “it is very clear that the matters raised here in these proceedings have potential ramifications” for WikiLeaks and Assange, who is in London. “Our concerns,” she said, focus on “a potential extradition request for Mr. Assange.”

At one point, Coombs asked Bettencourt whether Manning’s military leadership had failed him.

“I would like to think if I were in the chain of command, I would have handled it differently and prevented him from deploying,” Bettencourt said. “But that is in hindsight.”

© The Washington Post Company



Bradley Manning Pre-Trial Hearing: Live Blog, Day 3

By: Kevin Gosztola Sunday December 18, 2011 8:20 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. Members of the defense include Mr. David Coombs, Major Matthew Kemkes and Captain Paul Bouchard.

A quick recap of what happened on Day 2:

Writeable CDs/DVDs were supposed to be regulated, secret information was supposed to only be taken out on discs for “official purposes” but that was “trusted.” They were to all be labeled. But, in fact, Coombs cited photos where he saw CDs strewn about the SCIF, where Manning worked, without any labels and, clearly, Manning was able to take discs out without the military asking what he had put on the CDs.

Master Sgt. Paul Adkins, highest ranking officer in Manning’s unit, received an email April 2010 from Bradley Manning where he complained of suffering from gender identity disorder. The email also included a picture of Manning dressed up as a woman.

During Captain Steven Lim’s cross-examination, it was shared that Adkins wrote several memorandums on emotional problems Manning suffered, which were not shared before Manning’s arrest. They were shared after his detainment.  Linn counseled Adkins in writing on June 7, 2010, because he believed Adkins had kept important information from him on Manning’s health issues.

Special Agent Troy Bettencourt discussed WikiLeaks and importantly he suggested WikiLeaks “solicits submissions” of classified information and described how WikiLeaks had a “most wanted” list of files it wanted people to submit to the website

Defense heavily focused on establishing Manning had behavioral health issues and emotional problems. They also want to show military did not practice good information security. These are the arguments being presented by defense currently. At no point have there been any arguments to defend Manning as a military whistleblower.

Adrian Lamo was a “confidential informant” for Computer Crimes Investiative Unit (CCIU) agent Mark Mander and tipped Mander off to what Manning did by providing a copy of the chat logs. Lamo told a gentleman he was working with on “some part of a project” and then an “individual formerly of the army both contacted law enforcment.” (Possible Kevin Poulsen of Wired is individual mentioned.)

Lamo also tipped off agents to Jason Katz, who was working under the Department of Energy at Brook Haven Laboratory. He was employed from February 2009 until he was fired in March 2010, The reason he was fired was for engaging in inappropriate computer used. An investigation obtained forensic images of his workstation and personal laptop. CID and the FBI obtained a federal magistrate search warrant to seize and search devices. Found was a file and within it was another file BE22PAX.wmv,  a video file that was encrypted and password protected and believed to be a copy of the Gharani air strike video which shows an atrocity committed by the US military in Afghanistan.

The proceedings for Sunday, December 18, are to begin at 9:00 AM EST. It is unknown how long the proceedings will run today.

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.

8:47 AM One aspect of testimony presented yesterday that I glossed over and didn’t mention was the fact that agents searched Manning’s aunt’s home at least twice. Special Agent Mark Mander was on the stand as a witness and shared details.

Debra Van Alstyne, his aunt, was visited by Mander and four other agents in June 2010. In the aunt’s house, they collected computers, looked for digital media/potential packages that he might have mailed. They verified there was a computer in the bedroom that was powered on and connected that had a purpose which Mander claimed the aunt said was unknown.

Aunt was visited again a second time as they were concerned Manning sent a package from the Kuwait confinement facility with items they needed to search for the investigation. What happened was they asked a military magistrate to search his belongings but the military magistrate disagreed that the agents needed authorization for a search. They believed that if he was in custody agents would have the ability to search because he was a “confinee.” They went back to find out it was true but only with regards to safety and security, which means prisoners can be searched for contraband but when it comes to investigative matters you need authorization. About time they figured this out, Manning was transferred and standard operating procedure is to mail personal items to the home of record, which was his aunt’s house. And, the box sent from Kuwait was eventually found by the agents unopened.

She was interviewed by the agents, members of CCIU and the State Department on what she knew both in person and over the phone. They discussed a wide range of topics, basically how Manning grew up, his family, where his mother was from, his father, how he had grown up, time before joining army, circumstances leading to joining and also contacts she had while he was in Iraq. Specifically, prior to his arrest, Manning contacted her and asked about the 2007 Apache video and how that video was being received in the United States and then a second time he contacted her and asked her to make a posting to a Facebook page that referenced the video.

8:26 AM Yesterday, it was mentioned that investigators “feared” Manning had links to a foreign intelligence agency.

8:13 AM Witnesses for the prosecution will continue to be called today.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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