RSN August 14 Fundraising
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Pilkington reports: "The US government rested its case against the WikiLeaks source, Bradley Manning on Tuesday, bringing to an end the prosecution phase of the most significant criminal trial of an official leaker in at least a generation."

View of the courtroom during the Court-Martial of Bradley Manning. (artwork: Kay Rudin/RSN)
View of the courtroom during the Court-Martial of Bradley Manning. (artwork: Kay Rudin/RSN)



Government Rests Its Case Against Bradley Manning

By Ed Pilkington, Guardian UK

03 July 13

 

Admission that army has mislaid standard contract signed by private boosts defence hopes of having some charges dismissed

he US government rested its case against the WikiLeaks source, Bradley Manning on Tuesday, bringing to an end the prosecution phase of the most significant criminal trial of an official leaker in at least a generation.

In the fifth week of the trial proper, and more than three years after Manning was arrested for leaking the largest stash of state secrets in US history, Major Ashden Fein closed the government's case against the Army private. The defence case will start on Monday, beginning with a motion to have some of the 22 charges against Manning dismissed on the grounds of lack of evidence.

In the course of more than four weeks of intermittent testimony, the prosecution has hit a number of legal hurdles, including conflicting testimony and paucity of concrete evidence. The most embarrassing admission was that the Army had mislaid the standard contract Manning signed that laid out the terms of his access to classified information upon deployment to Iraq.

In defence cross-examination of a prosecution witness, it was revealed that the government had lost one copy of the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that Manning had signed and had routinely burned a second copy filled out by the soldier and all other members of his unit. The document is important as it clarifies whether or not the soldier exceeded the terms of the authorised access to secret documents through his work computer that he directly agreed to.

Manning's lead defence lawyer, David Coombs, is likely to use the missing documents as grounds for having some of the charges dismissed. The AUP could be relevant to charges that Manning knowingly exceeded authorised access to a secret internet network, that he obtained classified information without authorisation and that he violated the computer fraud and abuse act.

The government has struck other legal impediments in seeking to establish its main case – that Manning had a "general evil intent" to "aid the enemy" by passing valuable US secrets to WikiLeaks, knowing that they would reach al-Qaida and its affiliated terrorist organisations. Prosecution lawyers have tried to show that Manning's decision to transmit a vast trove of more than 700,000 state documents was calculated and premeditated and not, as the defence argues, provoked by some of the disturbing experiences he had in Iraq.

To that end, prosecutors told the court that Manning's first transmission of classified information began within days or weeks of his arrival at Forward Operating Base Hammer, outside Baghdad, in November 2009. They tried to link Manning to a copy of a video of a US airstrike earlier that year, on the village of Garani in the Farah Province of Afghanistan, that was placed on to the computer of a systems administrator called Jason Katz at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island in December.

But defence cross-examination of a key prosecution witness, special agent David Shaver, revealed that the Katz video did not match footage of the same Garani airstrike that was stored on Manning's workstation in Iraq. Manning indicated in earlier proceedings that he would admit to having leaked his copy of the Garani video in April 2010 – five months after he got to Iraq. But prosecutors refused to budge on their November 2009 timeframe, prompting Manning to plead not guilty to this count.

The government has also encountered problems seeking to prove that the army private entered into a conspiratorial relationship with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Prosecutors have pointed to the 2009 "Most Wanted List" compiled by WikiLeaks, which identified the most significant secrets that a crowd-sourced list of experts wanted to see disclosed. The government alleges that the list was used by Manning as a menu that guided his trawling of secure intelligence databases for information to leak. But no evidence was presented to court that Manning had ever read the list, let alone adopted it, and its status remains purely circumstantial.

Similarly, the prosecution cited a WikiLeaks tweet from May 2010, in which the anti-secrecy organisation put out an appeal to its Twitter followers for as many military email addresses to be leaked as possible. The government alleges a link between that tweet and a list of tens of thousands of email addresses that was found on Manning's personal computer. Yet the soldier never transmitted the list to WikiLeaks, and no evidence has been presented to court that he saw the WikiLeaks tweet in the first place.

The most serious charge, aiding the enemy, carries a maximum sentence of life in custody without parole. In pre-trial hearings the judge, Colonel Denise Lind, ruled that to make the charge stick the government must prove that Manning knowingly gave intelligence information, via WikiLeaks, to al-Qaida and its affiliates, including al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Crucially, Lind has set the prosecution the challenge of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Manning had "a general evil intent", in that he "had to know he was dealing, directly or indirectly, with an enemy of the US". The soldier cannot be found guilty if he acted "inadvertently, accidentally, or negligently".

Whether or not the prosecution succeeds in meeting that high bar set by Lind will have far-reaching implications, not just for Manning, whose fate depends on it, but also for the wider relationship in the US between government, whistleblowers and a free press. The Obama administration has launched seven prosecutions under the Espionage Act, which Manning is also facing, more than double the number initiated by all previous presidents combined.

Manning has already pleaded guilty to lesser charges that carry a combined maximum sentence of 20 years. He has admitted to being the WikiLeaks source, and to acting in a way that was prejudicial to good order and discipline and that brought discredit upon the armed forces.

Such a substantial admission of responsibility has failed to satisfy military prosecutors, who are clearly determined to send a bold message that will give any would-be leaker pause. The aggression displayed by the US government has additional current significance given Edward Snowden's predicament as he attempts to avoid capture by US authorities to face Espionage Act charges for leaking National Security Agency state secrets.

Paradoxically, one of the most significant pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution to show that Manning had knowledge of the danger of his actions was a classified report that was among the trove he passed to WikiLeaks. The 32-page document was released by WikiLeaks in March 2010 and gave the conclusions of a major investigation by US counter-intelligence into WikiLeaks itself.

The government argues that having leaked the report, Manning must have been familiar with its content. The report states that WikiLeaks was a threat to the US army.

"The intentional or unintentional leaking and posting of US army sensitive or classified information to Wikileaks.org could result in increased threats to DoD personnel, equipment, facilities, or installations," the report said. "Such information could be of value to foreign intelligence and security services (FISS), foreign military forces, foreign insurgents, and foreign terrorist groups for collecting information or for planning attacks against US force, both within the United States and abroad."

 

Comments   

We are concerned about a recent drift towards vitriol in the RSN Reader comments section. There is a fine line between moderation and censorship. No one likes a harsh or confrontational forum atmosphere. At the same time everyone wants to be able to express themselves freely. We'll start by encouraging good judgment. If that doesn't work we'll have to ramp up the moderation.

General guidelines: Avoid personal attacks on other forum members; Avoid remarks that are ethnically derogatory; Do not advocate violence, or any illegal activity.

Remember that making the world better begins with responsible action.

- The RSN Team

 
+37 # jwb110 2013-07-03 09:33
It sounds as though Col. Lind may be paying attention to International outrage about being spied on. The ramifications of this military courts decision will have world wide impact.
Our gov't cannot hold the entire world hostage with financial sanctions to create allies. It hasn't worked in the Middle East and it is too big a net to cast on the rest of the nation states.

It's about trust and fairness, once the currency of a great nation.
 
 
+34 # Walter J Smith 2013-07-03 09:54
While power/powerless ness drunk old Uncle Sam staggers beneath the blowback from around the world as the Snowden news keeps emerging, the US cannot refrain from celebrating its own imprisonment and harassment and castigation of its own most honorable citizens.

What a bizarre way for an empire to collapse. Or, isn't this the way they always have collapsed?
 
 
+60 # Arden 2013-07-03 09:56
His action was no doubt provoked by his great sense of DECENCY. It is bullshit that his action was provoked by calculation and premeditation. It is obvious, to anyone with a modicum of decency, that it was provoked by the disturbing events he was witnessing.
 
 
+31 # giraffee2012 2013-07-03 10:26
The govt via military got caught with its pants down and want to continue to do what they like by drumming up a case filled with holes against this private.

If I read what was leaked by Manning, I'd want to stop the carnage too. Manning was able to expose the US's bad behaviors and now, instead of the US doing right, it wants to discourage whistle blowers.

Next: Militarized world and the US thinks it can be in charge just as Hitler thought he could through his military (etc)

We still have right to vote and if we don't choose Congress people who care about the 47% (or 95%) then we will be at war with the world. How can our egotistical government think the world will just ALLOW the USA to rule?
 
 
+14 # wrknight 2013-07-03 13:28
Thank you giraffee. You are absolutely right. We still have the right to vote and hopefully, those who don't exercise it wisely will wake up and start doing so before we lose it.

We could have prevented all this shit if voters had used their heads and paid attention to what our elected officials have been doing to us.
 
 
+2 # Cougar27 2013-07-04 16:04
Yes, we have the right to vote, but that right is rapidly turning to sand in our mouths. In the case of Bradley Manning, do you find anyone of consequence in the GOP(pardon the oxymoron) who has come to his defense? On the other side, the titular head of the Democrats, Obama, announced almost a year ago that Bradley is guilty. So have other alleged Democrats.
 
 
+21 # Kathymoi 2013-07-03 10:39
It would seem to me that the prosecution would need to prove that the release of these particular docs to Wikileaks did in fact threaten our nation's security. Just the fact that a report said that information given to Wikileaks "could" pose a threat doesn't mean that all info given to Wikileaks poses a danger to our nation. .... "could result in increased threats to DoD personnel, equipment, facilities, or installations," the report said. "Such information could be of value to foreign intelligence and security services (FISS), foreign military forces, foreign insurgents, and foreign terrorist groups for collecting information or for planning attacks against US force, both within the United States and abroad." It has not yet been revealed how any of the info released by Bradley Manning could have been used by AlQueida or any other group to plan an attack on the US armed forces, either within the US or abroad. It seems that the info merely revealed some crimes and unethical practices of the military.
 
 
+5 # Nebulastardust 2013-07-03 13:49
So, when will the creators of al Qaeda that tricked al Qaeda in the enticed Soviet invasion be brought to trial.

The figureheads of this grand conspiracy Zbigniew Brzezinski and President Carter have yet to be charged though they're contempt of human life was ignored through their devious plan.
 
 
+3 # Jack Gibson 2013-07-04 16:34
And isn't it interesting that Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of Obama's top national security advisers. The criminal adviser is still advising criminal presidents, encouraging and aiding and abetting their crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes. It just goes on and on and on, has for a very long time, isn't being brought to an end, and looks like it will never be brought to an end. But the Nobel Committee gives "Peace" Prizes to these extreme criminals, including both Carter and Obama, as well as Henry Kissinger and Al Gore. [Remember, Clinton's presidency, of which Gore was an inexorable part, carried out acts of war against a sovereign nation through the sanctions and embargo against, continuing the north and south "No-Fly Zones" over, and the bombings of Iraq, mass-murdering a million and a half innocent civilians, five-hundred thousand of them children (which Clinton and Gore's Madeleine Albright said "was worth it"), over the course of eight of the almost twelve years of same.] What a fulfillment of George Orwell's, "1984", and "war is (supposedly) peace" (and conversely, peace is supposedly "war"), eh?

War is NOT "Peace", and Peace is NOT "war"! War is mass-murder!

See more of what George Orwell said:

http://www.form-legal.net/#GeorgeOrwell

The U.S. is going totally insane on an express train to hell on earth in the U.S. and all over the planet.

Happy True Independence Day, remembering what it really stands for, TRUE Liberty and Justice FOR ALL!
 
 
+29 # reiverpacific 2013-07-03 10:50
Perhaps the US is finally beginning to get a glimmer of the fact that it is still seen as a vengeful, ignorant, paranoid, overarmed and lumberingly clumsy bully, stuck in the McCarthy era by other nations and especially their peoples, including it alleged allies (UK Cameron will of course still jump to the slightest twitch of conformity -but I think, not it's peoples, except for all the ol' Tories around S.E, England).
Snowden's plight serves to reinforce this view but I'm disappointed that several countries in Europe have refused airspace to Bolivia's Evo Moralé's plane and had it searched by Austria in case it contains the latest fugitive from US vengeful scrutiny. Just in time for yet another "Free-Trade" screw-you conference with the US plutocracy.
I just hope that Snowden makes it to some sympathetic and humanitarian S. or C.-American nation, all the finks notwithstanding.
I wish Manning luck and still fear that he has been preemptively found guilty.
 
 
+21 # Teagarden 2013-07-03 11:15
Appreciate what you said. Quite simply it will be a major game changer if Manning is declared Not Guilty. Almost unimaginable that these murderous liars, for that is what they are objectively, would allow such an outcome. I hope I am wrong.
 
 
+16 # Nebulastardust 2013-07-03 13:45
He's already 'admitted' to certain crimes. To be sure he's a brave young man. Because of the errors of the 'state'/'milita ry' he will escape some of the persecutions by the state.

It was, after all, his duty and his honour to make those crimes by the military known and, to do so, he had to use extraordinary means to fulfil his duties as a soldier.

It is the criminal acts by the 'state'/'milita ry' that are the root of so many problems and blow-back toward the USA and it is these crimes that are deeply ignored by the USA.

War crimes should be filling the dockets of these military tribunals, and not in secret, to be assessed critically with honesty and with honour.

True honour has left the US military some decades past with only a sampling of the war crimes, the intentional abuses of war that the government rails against verbally but ignores in reality.

No honour there.
 
 
+23 # roger paul 2013-07-03 11:27
"He has admitted to being the WikiLeaks source, and to acting in a way that was prejudicial to good order and discipline and that brought discredit upon the armed forces."

Strange how leaking the information is more detrimental to the armed forces than the actual commission of the act itself. IE:killing innocent civilians, torture, etc.
 
 
+9 # Nebulastardust 2013-07-03 11:49
Isn't it interesting that the country that created al Qaeda is worried about al Qaeda getting USA information.

Why have not the past president Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski been prosecuted for the creation of al Qaeda and the intentional creation of a war by the Soviets in Afghanistan?(1979)

Why was president Reagan not prosecuted for advancing the cruel war and the turning of al Qaeda against the USA for the huge conniving that led al Qaeda to hate the USA?

Aren't these crimes, these war crimes that caused thousands of innocent deaths not more important than the trivialities of the war crimes exposed by Manning as he had to do under the laws of the USA and as a soldier?
 
 
+10 # John Escher 2013-07-03 12:53
Remember the helicopter movie and who enabled us to see it. You, reader, know which helicopter movie I mean.

I'd go so far as to say that any person of conscience who saw that secret film and didn't then bring it to public attention most probably was living a failed life.

The judgment that the Obama presidency also was failed will probably turn on issues of whistleblowing, clandestinity, drones, torture and war.

Nitwits constantly talk about "legacy," but they may have a point in that Barack Obama will be the first bad black president.

People think Jimmy Carter was a bad president, but he wasn't, and the reason is that his makeup included a love for democracy, idealism and freedom.
 
 
+21 # oakes721 2013-07-03 13:25
A Counter Lawsuit must be in order ~ for it's the REFUSAL to Obey ILLEGAL ORDERS is what this is really about. OBLIGED by MILITARY LAW to report criminal activities that are witnessed, the court-martial is itself an ACCESSORY to these crimes.
 
 
+10 # MindDoc 2013-07-03 13:56
Quote:

The Obama administration has launched seven prosecutions under the Espionage Act, which Manning is also facing, more than double the number initiated by all previous presidents combined.
I am riveted by this sentence. Why might this be?
In addition to the implications of the judge's instructions regarding intent (e.g., 'evil' versus altruistic or 'negligent'), there are issues of precedent, "making an example", and (real) impact of the leakage on national security (to say nothing of the trial cost in dollars & national perception).

So... Why this stunning statistic about Espionage cases throughout time? It may be unfair to pin this *entirely* on the President personally - even though his constant caving to political powers-that-be is legendary even among his strongest supporters, those who really wanted "change we can believe in" - but *positive* change for We the People of the flesh & blood world.

So, why this record bringing of Espionage charges? Is it a reflection of heightened risk and post-9/11 hyper-alertness ? What if any role does a more (or less) informed citizenry play, in this age of interactive instant information and communication?

As for Manning (and by extension WikiLeaks and the role of a free press) - we shall see, and surely we'll debate the outcome however it goes. Hero or traitor? Small fish or bellwether? Pre-ordained outcome or a surprise?

We do love our trials and spectacles... (And freedom too.)
Symbolism & spin.
 
 
+3 # RMDC 2013-07-04 08:57
I saw a real hatchet-job documentary on Manning and Lamo on Frontline. It based its stories on the still classified chats between Manning and Lamo. Frontline showed chats and tried to make the case that Manning and Assange were working closely together to gather secrets from the US military. Some of the chats have been published by Wired but none contain the Frontline so-called evidence that Manning was working in a conspiracy to steal US regmie secrets organized by Wikileaks.

Has anyone seen these real chats? Or was Ftontline making it all up. There were a lot of video simulations in the show -- an actor playing Manning. the timing of the broadcast was just right; it coincided with the wrap up of the prosecution's case.

Is this just Frontline and PBS playing their old propaganda role and making up evidence that the government does not have. Lamo played a very small role in the trial and nothing Frontline alleged was repeated by Lamo at the trial.

The chats with Lamo are important becuse as Frontline presented it Manning had a working relationship with Assange. Manning sought out Assange and the two conspired to steal US regime secrets. I don't think that was proven int he trial, but Frontline thinks it proved it. Fuck Frontline. It used to be good but after 9-11 it became pure propaganda. Making up evidence is not forgivable in journalism.
 
 
+1 # RobertMStahl 2013-07-08 15:37
They Walk on Water! The history of incest in money has lead the uppermost money grabbers to believe they are this worthy, as asymmetric crimes hit a pinnacle. Such disgust!

At the site in Oklahoma of the Alfred P. Murrah building where the main contents of the explosion were found on the opposite side of the van parked out front immediately before the destruction, there is an artistic piece, "Walk on Water" and a museum. Credible, or incredible?
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN