Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Defense of Bradley Manning: Day 1

Sketch of Bradley Manning inside the courtroom. art: Kay Rudin/RSN


The Defense of Bradley Manning: Day 1

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

08 July 13

I arrived at the gate to Fort Meade just after 7 am. Over the next hour, reporters arrived at the gate and formed a line in the visitors' parking lot. Just before 8 am, all of the vehicles were searched by an MP with a bomb sniffing dog. From that moment on, we were escorted by the Army's media handlers. A convoy took us to the media center, where we had to give up a photo-ID in exchange for our credential badge. We were required to leave our cell phones in our cars even though we were a half a mile from the court room. Once inside we received a briefing from our handlers on what would happen in today's proceedings. This was a far cry from my experience as a member of the public just a few weeks before. The public is allowed to roam the base without an escort. The trade off is that the public cannot bring their laptops into the viewing areas. The cost of working as credentialed press is that you only get to see what the Army wants you to see.

The day began with a snafu with the broadcast feed of the proceedings to the media center. We missed all the procedural matters, including the marking of defense motions for dismissal of four charges, including "aiding the enemy." When the feeds were finally restored, the "Collateral Murder Video" was being played in the courtroom. The Army told us that we had missed only about 20 minutes, and that was repeated by the judge.

What we missed appears to be only the marking of the four defense motions for a verdict of not guilty (917 Motion). The charges for which the defense filed the 917 motions included the "aiding the enemy," which could result in a life sentence. They also sought dismissal of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA 1030 offense) - in contention: whether Manning "knowingly exceeded authorized [computer] access" and all of the Federal larceny (641 offenses) - in contention: whether Manning did "steal, purloin, or knowingly convert to his use or the use of another, a record or thing of value.

The Defense Begins

The collateral murder video (http://youtu.be/5rXPrfnU3G0) was entered into evidence to open the defense. Even with the many viewings that have happened over the years, one reporter in the media center seemed emotionally moved. You could hear him saying "Oh my god" as the reporters and civilians were gunned down by the apache helicopter. Then you could hear him say "Wow" as the people who tried to aid the victims met a similar fate. The tone of the defense was set.

First Witness

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Ehresman was the first witness called to the stand. While Ehresman was not responsible for supervising any of the troops in Bradley Manning's unit, all of their work had to go through him for quality control and approval. Ehresman testified that Manning was the best analyst when developing product. He said Manning was the go-to guy. Ehresman went on to say Manning had the highest productivity in the unit even in March and April 2010. Testimony was also given that Manning was the go-to guy in the shop for teaching computer procedures.

One of the charges against Manning was that he used an executable file on his Army issued computer. Ehresman testified that executable files were authorized when run from a disc and not downloaded to the computer. He went on to say that he himself had run executable files from a disc and was told by a superior that it was authorized.

Sgt. David Sadtler

Sgt. Sadtler testified that Bradley Manning regularly brought concerns to him about events that he was troubled with. One event concerned arrests of Iraqi campaign workers. Sadtler said that while most in the unit were only concerned with getting through the day, Manning was always following the news of the day and expressing concerns.

Capt. Steven Lim

Capt. Lim testified that Manning was an expert on statistical data and use of the computers. They turned to Manning for statistical analysis and mapped his data. They considered him the best at analyzing the data. In previous testimony, Lim had said that the brigade level unit had no SOP (standard operating procedure). He had to be shown that testimony to recall it. He then testified that he didn't know why there was no SOP. According to Lim, music was allowed on the unit's computers but not movies. Lim also testified that nothing on the super net was top secret, and that data mining was expected of a good analyst. Ehreman also testified that data mining was expected and that there were no restrictions on where they could mine data from.

Capt. Lim was the one who informed the unit on how to access diplomatic cables. The cables were not password protected, and there were no warnings that any of the information had restricted access. Lim provided no limits when he provided the link to Manning's unit. On redirect Lim said there were no limits on the amount of diplomatic cables that an analyst could download and save.

Capt. Lim was never told that Wikileaks was a site visited by the enemy or told that he shouldn't visit that website. Nobody in the unit recieved training on which sites the enemy visited for information. This is critical, since the crux of the government case for the aiding the enemy charge is that Manning was told numerous times that the enemy monitored Wikileaks and contact with Wikileaks was not allowed.

On cross examination, Lim was asked about what information was in the SIGACTS [Significant Activities (US Army)] system that could aid the enemy. He testified that there was information in the SIGACTS that would be beneficial to the enemy.

Judge Lind questioned Capt. Lim on the policies for downloading data to CDs, and he confirmed that there were no restrictions. He also confirmed that using executable files from a CD was permitted. This is important because one of the charges is that Manning illegally used an executable program on the Army computers. All testimony so far from today's witnesses has been that it's okay to use an executable file as long as you don't install it on the computer.

Capt. Barclay Kay

Capt. Kay was the night shift Officer In Charge for Manning's unit while Manning worked the night shift. Nobody ever complained to Capt. Kay about Manning's performance. Kay transitioned to the day shift in mid-December, and to his knowledge was not replaced by another officer. Capt. Kay, like all witnesses, was asked by Coombs about the practice of listening to music on computers in the workplace. He testified that it was permitted. Kay also found Manning to be a go-to guy when a task needed to be conducted quickly.

Lauren McNamara

Lauren McNamara, who previously caused some controversy when she held a question and answer session on Reddit against the advice of attorneys, was accused by many of seeking media attention. She was the next to take the stand. McNamara had chatted with Manning under the name of Zachary Antolak. She described the chats as discussions of politics and current affairs and thought that Manning chose to chat with her because they were on the same intellectual level. The chats occurred between February and August of 2009. The defense moved to enter a transcript of the chats and the prosecution objected, contending that the chats were hearsay. Following a 20 minute recess, Judge Lind allowed the questioning to continue. McNamara testified that Manning told her in a chat that he was learning more about politics and philosophy so that he could better advise his superior officers so that he could save lives. He also told her that he was concerned about protecting civilians and ensuring that the troops made it home safely to their families. He talked of the value he placed on life. Manning testified that he hoped to enter politics after leaving the military. He viewed the military as not perfect but thought it was a diverse organization that did good most of the time.

On cross examination the Army highlighted Manning's statements on activism. Manning: "Activism is fun." He also said, "Activism only works if you get attention."

During a long exchange on Guantanamo, Manning said that many of the prisoners were not dangerous before but are now after their treatment there.

The whole cross examination was mind boggling. Everything that McNamara said on cross examination made Manning look like a thoughtful person with values that anyone would be proud of.

Col. (Ret.) Morris Davis

Col. Davis was the Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay from September 2005 to October 2007. The defense started out laying the foundation for qualifying Davis as an expert witness. Davis testified that the documents Manning leaked with info on Guantanamo detainees were useless. He also testified that the documents were not sensitive. According to Davis there was no actual intelligence in the documents; they were like baseball cards, just biographical information. No names of intelligence sources were included in the documents. Davis went on to say that while he spent a lot of time declassifying intelligence for use at trial, they never sought to declassify the GITMO documents Manning released because there was nothing of use or sensitive in them.

The day ended with Judge Lind ruling that Col. Morris was qualified to testify as an expert on the Guantanamo documents.

The issues that the defense addressed heavily today were the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for what could be done on the unit's computers. As Capt. Lim testified, there really wasn't an SOP. Multiple witnesses testified that unlimited data mining was allowed, downloading data to CDs was allowed, and use of executable files was allowed if the program was on a disc and installed on the unit's computers.

The proceedings recessed at 7:10 pm until 9:30 am on Tuesday July 9th.

© 2013 Reader Supported News

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

"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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