Jeremy Scahill on Obama’s Commutation of Chelsea Manning & Continued Demonization of Edward Snowden
7 februari 2017
While President Obama has commuted the sentence of Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, the administration has indicated it has no plans to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said last week, “The release of the information [Manning] provided to WikiLeaks was damaging to national security. But the disclosures by Edward Snowden were far more serious and far more dangerous.” We speak to The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill, author of the recent piece, “The True Scandal of 2016 was the Torture of Chelsea Manning.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: On Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters there was a stark difference between the cases of U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST: There are some important differences, including the scale of the crime—the crimes that were committed and the consequences of their crimes. Obviously, the—as Chelsea Manning has acknowledged, and as we have said many times, the release of the information that she provided to WikiLeaks was damaging to national security. But the disclosures by Edward Snowden were far more serious and far more dangerous.
AMY GOODMAN: On Friday, a campaign supporting Edward Snowden delivered a petition with more than 1 million signatures to the White House demanding a pardon. Jeremy Scahill, what Josh Earnest said in differentiating Snowden from Chelsea Manning?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I mean, there are clear differences between what Chelsea Manning did and the way that Chelsea Manning has been treated and Edward Snowden. But I do reject the idea that they’re using Edward Snowden as sort of a stepladder to justify this. The reality is that President Obama should have issued a full pardon to Chelsea Manning and should have never allowed the kind of abuse that she’s endured to go on for this period.
Let’s remember, though, that, you know, Chelsea Manning didn’t just leak the “Collateral Murder” video that showed the killing of Iraqi civilians and journalists from the Reuters news agency, didn’t just release the State Department cables that showed all sorts of blackmail, cajoling, corruption, support for dictators around the world, that—it was one of the most incredible moments in the history of democracy in this country, where people actually got to have the curtain pulled back and to see how the government functions in private and how it contradicts the public proclamations of the United States being this beacon of hope, the shining, you know, city on the top of the hill. And also Chelsea Manning provided the Iraq War logs and the Afghan War logs, that detailed numerous crimes committed by the United States and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also gave us an unprecedented window into how the assassination forces that the U.S. had unleashed in those countries functioned.
But not a single document that Chelsea Manning is known to have released was a top-secret document. And I think that’s a technical distinction from what Edward Snowden did. And I think that that’s part of why Josh Earnest is saying this. But let’s be clear: Edward Snowden also is a whistleblower deserving of an embrace from people who believe in democracy. We understand now the breaking news today was that the Russian government is saying it’s extending Edward Snowden’s ability to stay in Russia for two more years. And a senior Russian official rejected the suggestion by former acting CIA Director Mike Morell that Snowden should be handed over to the U.S. by Putin as a thank you gift to the incoming President Donald Trump, and the Russian Foreign Ministry said it’s curious that a former director of the CIA actually views the giving of people as a gift, and it says a lot about the United States. But, no, I think that the White House is using Edward Snowden in an attempt to justify the commutation of the sentence of Chelsea Manning. I’m ecstatic that Obama did even this. I think he should have gone farther and issued a full pardon to Chelsea Manning.
AMY GOODMAN: One of the things Josh Earnest said—and this is before the announcement that the sentence of Chelsea Manning would be commuted—when talking about Edward Snowden, is he went to a country that is an adversary.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, that’s—first of all, that’s an outright lie. When Edward Snowden was in mid-air on the way to Moscow, the United States—
AMY GOODMAN: Headed to Latin America.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. Well, we don’t know exactly where, but we understand somewhere in Latin America. While he was in the air en route to Moscow, the United States canceled his passport. So, it was the Obama administration that chose Russia. Edward Snowden did not choose Russia. And then they tried to force Evo Morales—well, they actually did force Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia’s plane down, thinking that Edward Snowden was on board it. My understanding is that supporters of Snowden had bought tickets for him on multiple airlines in an attempt to kind of fog up the U.S. efforts to catch him.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, because he didn’t have his passport, when he was in transit, stopped at Moscow, he couldn’t leave the airport.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right, he had to stay in the airport for weeks on end.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this month, WikiLeaks said its founder, Julian Assange, was prepared to give up his freedom in exchange for Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. A statement on WikiLeaks’ Twitter page read, “If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case.” Can you comment on this, Jeremy?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, first of all, I mean, I know that our dear friend, the late Michael Ratner, believed that there was a lot of evidence to indicate that there was a secret or sealed indictment against Julian Assange, but that has not been confirmed. So it’s unclear even if there are charges against Julian Assange. Some of the leaked documents from Hillary Clinton’s circle indicate that maybe there is, but it’s unclear that there’s even an extradition request to respond to in the first place. And I think that, you know, Assange has plenty of trouble facing him if he steps outside of that embassy—the potential for the U.S. to want to extradite him, certainly there; Sweden is definitely going to want him to spend some time in jail, and Assange himself has acknowledged that; and the British government, of course, may bring a whole array of new charges against him, as well. But it will be interesting to see what happens. I mean, Assange did say it, and so we’ll see what happens.
AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, former New York Times reporter Judith Miller tweeted, “Obama commutes sentence of Chelsea Manning. How many people died because of manning’ leak?” That is what Judith Miller tweeted, the former New York Times reporter.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Judith Miller’s article—
AMY GOODMAN: In the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, Miller wrote several of the key articles that falsely claimed Iraq had an extensive weapons of mass destruction program ahead of the Iraq invasion, paving way for the war in Iraq.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, Judith Miller was a witting participant in a sophisticated propaganda campaign orchestrated by Dick Cheney and the top levels of power in the United States government to falsify a case to invade and destroy Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people died in that war. Thousands of U.S. soldiers were killed in that war. Judith Miller shouldn’t write with ink; she should write with the blood that she has caused to be shed around the world. And shame on her for attacking Chelsea Manning, whose entire intent was to save lives, when she has knowingly participated in a drive to an unjust, illegal war that killed scores of people. She should, as they say, delete her account.
AMY GOODMAN: Chase Strangio, as we wrap up, your final comment? And do you know what Chelsea Manning will be doing when she gets out of Leavenworth?
CHASE STRANGIO: I have no doubt that Chelsea Manning will continue to just absolutely fight for all the principles that she has long stood for, continue to engage in a campaign of advocacy for transparency, for transgender justice, for the justice of so many people. And I have no doubt that today she, as she always is, is thinking about other people, like Leonard Peltier and other people who are still awaiting to hear about the commutation of their sentences.
AMY GOODMAN: The pardon of General Cartwright?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, General Cartwright was part of the official leaks program, where the White House wants to put out information that they feel makes them look glorious, like as we saw John Brennan and others do in the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden. What this boiled down to was Cartwright leaked information about the Stuxnet virus, and he appeared to have done it with the permission of the highest levels of power in the Obama administration—unclear if Obama himself approved it. But then he got caught lying to the FBI. And the whole point of it was to say, “Hey, we dismantled—or, we penetrated Iran’s nuclear program with this amazing computer virus that we created,” potentially in concert with the Israelis. Cartwright then got caught lying to the FBI. And so, this is sort of akin to, you know, some of the pardons that took place in Richard Nixon’s administration. Basically, Cartwright did this at the pleasure of the White House, so to speak, and so he’s part of the official leaks program, as, you know, so many other unindicted people are in the White House—big contrast to how they treat conscience-motivated whistleblowers.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Nancy Hollander, what this means for future whistleblowers?
NANCY HOLLANDER: I think it’s very important for future whistleblowers to see how Chelsea was treated and mistreated. And none of that is going to go away. But at least the president has reduced her sentence. But we’ve always been concerned, and Chelsea has been concerned, that future whistleblowers will be afraid to come out and step forward. And Chelsea will be out there doing service to her community, and she can’t wait to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: Nancy Hollander, appellate attorney for Chelsea Manning. Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU, represented Chelsea Manning in a lawsuit against the Pentagon. And Jeremy Scahill, I hope you’ll stay with us for the end of the show to talk about the confirmation hearing for education secretary, Betsy DeVos. When we come back, Oscar López Rivera has also been—had his sentence commuted. We’ll talk with his brother and Juan González. Stay with us.
JANUARY 18, 2017
Find this story at 18 January 2017
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WikiLeaks Whistleblower Bradley Manning Says He Wanted to Show the Public the “True Costs of War”
8 maart 2013
For the first time, 25-year-old U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning has admitted to being the source behind the largest leak of state secrets in U.S. history. More than a thousand days after he was arrested, Manning testified Thursday before a military court. He said he leaked the classified documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in order to show the American public the “true costs of war.” Reading for more than an hour from a 35-page statement, Manning said: “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information … this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.” At the pretrial hearing at Fort Meade military base in Maryland, Manning pleaded guilty to reduced charges on 10 counts, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. But even if the judge accepts the plea, prosecutors can still pursue a court-martial on the remaining 12 charges. The most serious of those is “aiding the enemy” and carries a possible life sentence. We are joined by Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He just returned from attending Manning’s hearing. [includes rush transcript]
Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He returned last night from attending the pretrial hearing for Bradley Manning.
This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution. Donate >
AMY GOODMAN: For the first time, 25-year-old U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning has admitted to being the source behind the largest leak of state secrets in U.S. history. More than a thousand days after he was arrested, Manning testified Thursday before a military court. He said he leaked the classified documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in order to show the American public the “true costs of war.”
Reading for over an hour from a 35-page statement, Manning said, quote, “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information … this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.” He added, quote, “I believed that these cables would not damage the United States. However, I believed these cables would be embarrassing.” He said he took the information to WikiLeaks only after he was rebuffed by The Washington Post and The New York Times.
At the pretrial hearing at Fort Meade military base in Maryland, Manning pleaded guilty to reduced charges on 10 counts, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. But even if the judge accepts the plea, prosecutors can still pursue a court-martial on the remaining 12 charges. The most serious of those is aiding the enemy and carries a possible life sentence.
Over the course of the hearing, Bradley Manning took responsibility for leaking the so-called “Collateral Murder” video of an Apache helicopter attack in Iraq; some U.S. diplomatic cables, including one of the early WikiLeaks publications, the Reykjavik cable; portions of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs; some of the files on detainees in Guantánamo; and two intelligence memos.
For more, we’re joined by Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, lawyer for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He has just returned from attending that pretrial hearing last night for Bradley Manning.
Michael Ratner, welcome back to Democracy Now! Well, this is explosive. Bradley Manning stands in court and accepts responsibility for releasing the documents, says he is guilty of doing that.
MICHAEL RATNER: It was one of the more moving days I’ve ever spent in a courtroom. You’ve heard from Bradley Manning once before, which was when he testified about the torture that happened to him. I was crying through that. This was amazing. I mean, he actually didn’t stand; he sat at the defense table. And he read his 35-page statement, which, sadly, we do not have a copy of, even though there’s nothing classified about that statement. And hopefully we’ll get it, because that is something that should be taught in every school in America.
He went through each of the releases that he took responsibility for, that you mentioned on the air, and he told us why he did it. And in each case, you saw a 22-year-old, a 23-year-old, a person of incredible conscience, saying, “What I’m seeing the United States do is utterly wrong. It’s immoral. The way they’re killing people in Iraq, targeting people for death, rather than working with the population, this is wrong.” And in each of these—each of these statements tells you about how he was doing it politically.
AMY GOODMAN: Remind us of how he did this. He was actually serving in Iraq as a soldier.
MICHAEL RATNER: Yes, he was a soldier. He was in—and he goes through that in his statement. He’s an intelligence analyst. And one of the things he worked with, what were called “significant activities reports,” which are the daily logs of what’s happening in Iraq and, attached to it, of course, in Afghanistan. And as he read those, I think he became appalled by what he saw: the killings, the targeted assassinations, the fact that people didn’t want the United States there, the fact that we weren’t really helping the country or helping individuals. And he said he wanted to lift the fog of war from it. And he got in touch with various organizations, including WikiLeaks. And that, he talks about. He talks about that. And—
AMY GOODMAN: Explain. He actually said he didn’t go to WikiLeaks first.
MICHAEL RATNER: No, that’s correct. He first—he had these documents on a disk that he eventually took out of—took out of the special secure room. He actually came to the United States with it. That’s the Iraq war logs and the Afghan war logs. And he tried to get it to The New York Times and The Washington Post. He calls up The Washington Post, has a five-minute discussion with somebody there.
AMY GOODMAN: Does he know who?
MICHAEL RATNER: He doesn’t recall who, or at least didn’t say it. He doesn’t take it—he said they don’t take him seriously, and then he feels he can’t get that. He calls the public editor at The New York Times and leaves a message on the answering machine of the public editor and doesn’t get a call back. He’s then thinking about: “How am I going to get this critical information out? Because I think what the U.S. is doing should be debated in the United States. We’re killing people without cause, essentially.”
And then, he has already known about WikiLeaks, because he was aware of WikiLeaks in part because of their release of the text messages or the SMSes from the World Trade Center phones that were there on 9/11. So he’s aware of WikiLeaks. He’s in some communication, by chat or otherwise, with WikiLeaks. And they point him to a site where he can upload, upload the documents.
One interesting point on that is what he mentions about WikiLeaks. Some papers have reported that he said he believes he was in communication with Julian Assange. He actually says it could have been Julian Assange, it could have been someone he calls “Daniel Schmitt,” which is probably Daniel Domscheit-Berg from Germany. And he says—and it also says it could have been someone high up in WikiLeaks. He really doesn’t know. And he says, “Whatever I did in this case, I did because I wanted to do it. I was not pressured to do it. I made the decision to do it.” So he tries these other media, and ultimately he sees that WikiLeaks has a way of uploading documents that’s anonymous, that he doesn’t know who’s on the other end, and they don’t know who’s on his end.
AMY GOODMAN: He also said he was motivated by the Reuters FOIAs, right? Freedom of the Information Act requests to get the—what came to be known as the “Collateral Murder” video.
MICHAEL RATNER: I mean, when we can get the transcript and put out the quotes of what he said, on that “Collateral Murder” video, which he saw the Reuters journalists killed, then he saw them attack the van that was trying to rescue people, in which children were injured, and he said, “What I heard them say in that helicopter as they were shooting was incredible bloodlust.” “Bloodlust,” that’s what he said.
AMY GOODMAN: During that pretrial hearing on Wednesday, let’s talk about this, Michael. Bradley Manning spoke about the “Collateral Murder” video of an Apache helicopter attack in Iraq and admitted for the first time being the source of the leaked tape. Manning said, quote, “The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust the aerial weapons team happened to have.” He added, the soldiers’ actions, quote, “seemed similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass,” describing the video as “war porn,” saying the crew’s “lack of concern for human life” and “concern for injured children at the scene” greatly bothered him. So, this is the video—it was shot July 12th, 2007—that Manning referenced. It shows U.S. forces killing 12 people, including two Reuters employees. Now, this video is taken by the U.S. military Apache helicopter. It is the camera that’s mounted within the helicopter. You hear the soldiers in the helicopter joking, cursing. And it is showing a target on the men who are walking in an area of Baghdad known as New Baghdad below. Among them, an up-and-coming Reuters videographer named Namir Noor-Eldeen and his driver, Saeed Chmagh.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: I have individuals with weapons.
U.S. SOLDIER 2: You’re clear.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: Alright, firing.
U.S. SOLDIER 3: Let me know when you’ve got them.
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Let’s shoot. Light ’em all up.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: Come on, fire!
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’.
U.S. SOLDIER 4: Hotel, Bushmaster two-six, Bushmaster two-six, we need to move, time now!
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Alright, we just engaged all eight individuals.
AMY GOODMAN: Reuters driver Saeed Chmagh survived that initial attack. He’s seen trying to crawl away as the helicopter flies overhead. U.S. forces open fire again when they see a van pulling up. The van comes to evacuate the wounded, like Saeed Chmagh.
U.S. SOLDIER 2: The bodies.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: Where’s that van at?
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Right down there by the bodies.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: OK, yeah.
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Bushmaster, Crazy Horse. We have individuals going to the scene, looks like possibly picking up bodies and weapons.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: Let me engage. Can I shoot?
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Roger. Break. Crazy Horse one-eight, request permission to engage.
U.S. SOLDIER 3: Picking up the wounded?
U.S. SOLDIER 1: Yeah, we’re trying to get permission to engage. Come on, let us shoot!
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Bushmaster, Crazy Horse one-eight.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: They’re taking him.
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Bushmaster, Crazy Horse one-eight.
U.S. SOLDIER 4: This is Bushmaster seven, go ahead.
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Roger. We have a black SUV—or Bongo truck picking up the bodies. Request permission to engage.
U.S. SOLDIER 4: Bushmaster seven, roger. This is Bushmaster seven, roger. Engage.
U.S. SOLDIER 2: One-eight, engage. Clear.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: Come on!
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Clear. Clear.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: We’re engaging.
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Coming around. Clear.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: Roger. Trying to—
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Clear.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: I hear ’em—I lost ’em in the dust.
U.S. SOLDIER 3: I got ’em.
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Should have a van in the middle of the road with about 12 to 15 bodies.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: Oh yeah, look at that. Right through the windshield! Ha ha!
AMY GOODMAN: That is the video that WikiLeaks, when releasing it, dubbed “Collateral Murder,” of the July 12, 2007, attack. In that van, by the way, were two children who were critically wounded. Saeed Chmagh was killed. That is the video that we played first when it was released and also interviewed Julian Assange at the time here in the United States, interestingly. Michael Ratner with us, who is Julian Assange’s attorney. So this video Bradley Manning got in downloading, because it’s a U.S. military video, that Reuters, which had asked repeatedly for it, never got until WikiLeaks released it, to know the last seconds of their employees’ lives.
MICHAEL RATNER: Not only did Reuters never get it, Amy, CENTCOM, which is I guess the central part of the Army, basically said, “We don’t think we have the video.” And yet, everybody that was in the room with Bradley Manning, everybody knew about the video. It was one of many, many videos. He says in this video—and he said it in court—he said, “What was amazing is, when they—after they hurt these children in the van,” he said, “they showed no remorse for the children. And when they saw someone crawling on the ground, they said, ‘I hope he picks up a gun,’ essentially, ‘because we can kill him then.'” So, these people—this was really here a 22- or 23-year-old man watching this. Most people would have said, “Well, I’ll just get through the Army, and that’ll be it.” He didn’t, and he’s a hero for that, because what he did is he acted on his moral conscience, and he exposed what the—the war crimes the U.S. was doing.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what does this mean right now? Bradley Manning has pleaded guilty to uploading the largest trove of state secrets in U.S. history to WikiLeaks, which then released them. What does he face exactly?
MICHAEL RATNER: Well, he faces a possible 20 years in prison. But the problem here, military is different than our regular courts in the U.S., which is to say that the plea does not have to be accepted by the government or by the judge—
AMY GOODMAN: So why would he have agreed to plead guilty?
MICHAEL RATNER: —or by the prosecutor, really. He did what’s called a “naked plea.” His hope, I think, is that when the government sees this and also the support he’ll get for acknowledging what he did and also the reasons and the moral reasons why he did it and the political reasons he did it, that the government won’t go on and try and prove aiding the enemy and the more serious espionage charges. What he really pleaded to was doing actions that were prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the military, by giving documents to someone not authorized or a group not authorized to get them. So he faces 20 years. I think he did it because he was otherwise facing, and he still could be facing, life imprisonment, if not the death penalty. So they’re trying to figure out—
AMY GOODMAN: Because? Life imprisonment for?
MICHAEL RATNER: For espionage, as well as the death penalty.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, what about this charge, aiding the enemy?
MICHAEL RATNER: Well, that’s the—
AMY GOODMAN: What is the case for it?
MICHAEL RATNER: Well, that’s the craziest. I mean, that’s just saying, because he gave documents to WikiLeaks and they were published by WikiLeaks — and they were published by The New York Times, I should say, and The Guardian and Der Spiegel — that al-Qaeda read those documents, and therefore WikiLeaks was essentially the transmittal means he used to get documents to al-Qaeda. So that the enemy there is al-Qaeda; some would say the enemy is even WikiLeaks, according to the U.S. government. But that’s the claim. It seems like a completely spurious, ridiculous claim. You can go after The New York Times for that every time it publishes and someone from a, quote, “terrorist” group reads those documents. So it’s a nonsensical claim.
But he was facing life. And he made this statement that—you know, I just want to say that whatever people’s images were of Bradley Manning from the newspapers, which have reported on this, you know, disturbed human being, this disturbed individual, this man gave a political statement that should be read, I think, by every American and should certainly be taught in every one of our schools on what the moral obligations are of people in the military to stop, really, a killing machine of the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: And what does this mean for Julian Assange? You’re his attorney. You were just recently there once again in London in the Ecuadorean embassy, where he is holed up and granted political asylum by Ecuador but can’t leave the embassy or Britain, the British authorities, will arrest him. The significance of this, Julian Assange, who believes the grand jury empaneled here could indict him for espionage and is afraid of being extradited here?
MICHAEL RATNER: Well, there are two things that came out. One is, I would say that Bradley Manning’s testimony put WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in the same place that The New York Times would be or The Guardian, which is to say he gave documents or uploaded them to a website that is the equivalent of—you know, with The New York Times getting information about warrantless wiretapping from someone in the U.S. National Security Agency. So I think, in that sense, it tells us that the U.S. should get off his back, that Julian Assange should be getting the support of The New York Times and The Guardian and Der Spiegel, which used all of these—which used all of these documents. So I think it’s actually, in that sense, helpful to Julian Assange.
On the other hand, there were two people who were identified to me as members—as lawyers on the grand jury that’s sitting in—that’s sitting in Virginia. Two of the prosecuting attorneys were there in the court.
AMY GOODMAN: Yesterday, at the pretrial hearing of Bradley Manning.
MICHAEL RATNER: Yes, yes, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: So they’re there, and you’re there, Assange’s attorney.
MICHAEL RATNER: They’re there, and I’m there. I didn’t have a chance to meet them, because they don’t come out and mix with the rest of us. They’re on the government’s side with—surrounded by camouflaged people. But they were there. And so, that tells us that that grand jury is still active and going on, and that they are still after Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. When I say “they,” the U.S. government. But for some reason, they’re thinking they can distinguish that from The New York Times and The Guardian. I don’t think they can. And I think it’s—you know, to me, it’s outrageous that The New York Times and The Guardian have not supported one of the people they worked with in revealing these documents.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Michael Ratner, I want to thank you for being with us, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, lawyer for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, returned last night from attending the pretrial hearing for Bradley Manning, who has been in detention now for more than 1,000 days.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. When we come back, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. Stay with us.
Find this story at 1 March 2013
The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case
8 maart 2013
After 1,000 days in pretrial detention, Private Bradley Manning yesterday offered a modified guilty plea for passing classified materials to WikiLeaks. But his case is far from over—not for Manning, and not for the rest of the country. To understand what is still at stake, consider an exchange that took place in a military courtroom in Maryland in January.
The judge, Col. Denise Lind, asked the prosecutors a brief but revealing question: Would you have pressed the same charges if Manning had given the documents not to WikiLeaks but directly to the New York Times?
The prosecutor’s answer was simple: “Yes Ma’am.”
The question was crisp and meaningful, not courtroom banter. The answer, in turn, was dead serious. I should know. I was the expert witness whose prospective testimony they were debating. The judge will apparently allow my testimony, so if the prosecution decides to pursue the more serious charges to which Manning did not plead guilty, I will explain at trial why someone in Manning’s shoes in 2010 would have thought of WikiLeaks as a small, hard-hitting, new media journalism outfit—a journalistic “Little Engine that Could” that, for purposes of press freedom, was no different from the New York Times. The prosecutor’s “Yes Ma’am,” essentially conceded that core point of my testimony in order to keep it out of the trial. That’s not a concession any lawyer makes lightly.
The charge of “aiding the enemy” is vague. But it carries the death penalty—and could apply to civilians as well as soldiers.
But that “Yes Ma’am” does something else: It makes the Manning prosecution a clear and present danger to journalism in the national security arena. The guilty plea Manning offered could subject him to twenty years in prison—more than enough to deter future whistleblowers. But the prosecutors seem bent on using this case to push a novel and aggressive interpretation of the law that would arm the government with a much bigger stick to prosecute vaguely-defined national security leaks, a big stick that could threaten not just members of the military, but civilians too.
country’s constitutional culture is made up of the stories we tell each other about the kind of nation we are. When we tell ourselves how strong our commitment to free speech is, we grit our teeth and tell of Nazis marching through Skokie. And when we think of how much we value our watchdog press, we tell the story of Daniel Ellsberg. Decades later, we sometimes forget that Ellsberg was prosecuted, smeared, and harassed. Instead, we express pride in a man’s willingness to brave the odds, a newspaper’s willingness to take the risk of publishing, and a Supreme Court’s ability to tell an overbearing White House that no, you cannot shut up your opponents.
Whistleblowers play a critical constitutional role in our system of government, particularly in the area of national security. And they do so at great personal cost. The executive branch has enormous powers over national security and the exercise of that power is not fully transparent. Judicial doctrines like the “state secrets” doctrine allow an administration to limit judicial oversight. Congress’ oversight committees have also tended to leave the executive relatively free of constraints. Because the materials they see are classified, there remains little public oversight. Consider the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the interrogation torture practices during the immediate post 9/11 years: Its six thousand pages, according to Senator Dianne Feinstein, are “one of the most significant oversight efforts in the history of the United States Senate.” But they are unavailable to the public.
Freedom of the press is anchored in our constitution because it reflects our fundamental belief that no institution can be its own watchdog. The government is full of well-intentioned and quite powerful inspectors general and similar internal accountability mechanisms. But like all big organizations, the national security branches of government include some people who aren’t purely selfless public servants. Secrecy is necessary and justified in many cases. But as hard-earned experience has shown us time and again, it can be—and often is—used to cover up failure, avarice, or actions that simply will not survive that best of disinfectants, sunlight.
That’s where whistleblowers come in. They offer a pressure valve, constrained by the personal risk whistleblowers take, and fueled by whatever moral courage they can muster. Manning’s statement in court yesterday showed that, at least in his motives, he was part of that long-respected tradition. But that’s also where the Manning prosecution comes in, too. The prosecution case seems designed, quite simply, to terrorize future national security whistleblowers. The charges against Manning are different from those that have been brought against other whistleblowers. “Aiding the enemy” is punishable by death. And although the prosecutors in this case are not seeking the death penalty against Manning, the precedent they are seeking to establish does not depend on the penalty. It establishes the act as a capital offense, regardless of whether prosecutors in their discretion decide to seek the death penalty in any particular case.
Hard cases, lawyers have long known, make bad law. The unusual nature of Manning’s case has led some to argue that his leaks are different than those we now celebrate as a bedrock component of accountability journalism: Daniel Ellsberg leaked specific documents that showed massive public deception in the prosecution of the Vietnam War. Deep Throat leaked specific information about presidential corruption during the Watergate investigation. Manning, though, leaked hundreds of thousands of documents, many of which were humdrum affairs; perhaps, some have argued, the sheer scope raises the risks. But in the three years since the leaks began, there has still been no public evidence that they in fact caused significant damage. The prosecutors say they will introduce evidence of harm in secret sessions; one of these bits of evidence is reportedly going to be that they will show that several of the files published were found on Osama Bin Laden’s computer. Does that mean that if the Viet Cong had made copies of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg would have been guilty of “aiding the enemy?”
If the Viet Cong photocopied the Pentagon Papers, could Daniel Ellsberg have been prosecuted for aiding the enemy?
It is also important to understand that although the number of leaked items was vast, it was not gratuitously so; some of the most important disclosures came precisely from sifting through the large number of items. Certainly, some of the important revelations from the leaks could have been achieved through a single “smoking gun” document, such as the chilling operational video from a U.S. helicopter attack that killed two Reuters’ cameramen, and shot at a van trying to offer relief to the injured, wounding two children who were in the van. But many of the most important insights only arise from careful analysis of the small pieces of evidence. This type of accountability analysis showed that the military had substantially understated the scale of civilian casualties in Iraq; and that U.S. forces were silently complicit in abuses by allied Iraqi government forces; it uncovered repeated abuses by civilian contractors to the military. The war logs have become the most important spin-free source of historical evidence about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The reputation that WikiLeaks has been given by most media outlets over the past two and a half years, though, obscures much of this—it just feels less like “the press” than the New York Times. This is actually the point on which I am expected to testify at the trial, based on research I did over the months following the first WikiLeaks disclosure in April 2010. When you read the hundreds of news stories and other materials published about WikiLeaks before early 2010, what you see is a young, exciting new media organization. The darker stories about Julian Assange and the dangers that the site poses developed only in the latter half of 2010, as the steady release of leaks about the U.S. triggered ever-more hyperbolic denouncements from the Administration (such as Joe Biden’s calling Assange a “high-tech terrorist”), and as relations between Assange and his traditional media partners soured.
In early 2010, when Manning did his leaking, none of that had happened yet. WikiLeaks was still a new media phenom, an outfit originally known for releasing things like a Somali rebel leader’s decision to assassinate government officials in Somalia, or a major story exposing corruption in the government of Daniel Arap Moi in Kenya. Over the years WikiLeaks also exposed documents that shined a light on U.S. government practices, such as operating procedures in Camp Delta in Guantanamo or a draft of a secretly negotiated, highly controversial trade treaty called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. But that was not the primary focus. To name but a few examples, it published documents that sought to expose a Swiss Bank’s use of Cayman accounts to help rich clients avoid paying taxes, oil related corruption in Peru, banking abuses in Iceland, pharmaceutical company influence peddling at the World Health Organization, and extra-judicial killings in Kenya. For its work, WikiLeaks won Amnesty International’s New Media award in 2009 and the Freedom of Expression Award from the British magazine, Index of Censorship, in 2008.
No one would have thought at the time that WikiLeaks had the gravitas of the Times. But if you roll back to the relevant time frame, it is clear that any reasonable person would have seen WikiLeaks as being in the same universe as we today think of the range of new media organizations in the networked investigative journalism ecosystem, closer probably to ProPublica or the Bureau of Investigative Journalism than to Huffington Post or the Daily Beast. If leaking classified materials to a public media outlet can lead to prosecution for aiding the enemy, then it has to be under a rule that judges can apply evenhandedly to the New York Times or the Guardian no less than to ProPublica, the Daily Beast, or WikiLeaks. No court will welcome a rule where culpability for a capital offense like aiding the enemy depends on the judge’s evaluation of the quality of the editorial practices, good faith, or loyalty of the media organization to which the information was leaked. Nor could a court develop such a rule without severely impinging on the freedom of the press. The implications of Manning’s case go well beyond Wikileaks, to the very heart of accountability journalism in a networked age.
he prosecution will likely not accept Manning’s guilty plea to lesser offenses as the final word. When the case goes to trial in June, they will try to prove that Manning is guilty of a raft of more serious offenses. Most aggressive and novel among these harsher offenses is the charge that by giving classified materials to WikiLeaks Manning was guilty of “aiding the enemy.” That’s when the judge will have to decide whether handing over classified materials to ProPublica or the New York Times, knowing that Al Qaeda can read these news outlets online, is indeed enough to constitute the capital offense of “aiding the enemy.”
Aiding the enemy is a broad and vague offense. In the past, it was used in hard-core cases where somebody handed over information about troop movements directly to someone the collaborator believed to be “the enemy,” to American POWs collaborating with North Korean captors, or to a German American citizen who was part of a German sabotage team during WWII. But the language of the statute is broad. It prohibits not only actually aiding the enemy, giving intelligence, or protecting the enemy, but also the broader crime of communicating—directly or indirectly—with the enemy without authorization. That’s the prosecution’s theory here: Manning knew that the materials would be made public, and he knew that Al Qaeda or its affiliates could read the publications in which the materials would be published. Therefore, the prosecution argues, by giving the materials to WikiLeaks, Manning was “indirectly” communicating with the enemy. Under this theory, there is no need to show that the defendant wanted or intended to aid the enemy. The prosecution must show only that he communicated the potentially harmful information, knowing that the enemy could read the publications to which he leaked the materials. This would be true whether Al Qaeda searched the WikiLeaks database or the New York Times’. Hence the prosecutor’s “Yes Ma’am.”
This theory is unprecedented in modern American history. The prosecution claims that there is, in fact precedent in Civil War cases, including one from 1863 where a Union officer gave a newspaper in occupied Alexandria rosters of Union units, and was convicted of aiding the enemy and sentenced to three months. But Manning’s defense argues that the Civil War cases involved publishing coded messages in newspapers and personals, not leaking for reporting to the public at large. The other major source that the prosecution uses is a 1920 military law treatise. Even if the prosecutors are correct in their interpretations of these two sources, which is far from obvious, the fact that they need to rely on these old and obscure sources underscores how extreme their position is in the twenty-first century.
In fact, neither side disagrees with this central critique: That for 150 years, well before the rise of the modern First Amendment, the invention of muckraking journalism, or the modern development of the watchdog function of the press in democratic society, no one has been charged with aiding the enemy simply for leaking information to the press for general publication. Perhaps it was possible to bring such a charge before the first amendment developed as it did in the past hundred years, before the Pentagon Papers story had entered our national legend. But before Rosa Parks and Brown vs. Board of Education there was also a time when prosecutors could enforce the segregation laws of Jim Crow. Those times have passed. Read in the context of American constitutional history and the practice of at least a century and a half (if not more) of “aiding the enemy” prosecutions, we should hope and expect that the court will in fact reject the prosecution’s novel and aggressive interpretation of that crime.
But as long as the charge remains live and the case undecided, the risk that a court will accept this expansive and destructive interpretation is very real.
That’s especially true when you consider that “aiding the enemy” could be applied to civilians. Most provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice apply only to military personnel. But Section 104, the “aiding the enemy” section, applies simply to “any person.” To some extent, this makes sense—a German-American civilian in WWII could be tried by military commission for aiding German saboteurs under this provision. There has been some back and forth in military legal handbooks, cases, and commentary about whether and to what extent Section 104 in fact applies to civilians. Most recently, Justice Stevens’ opinion in the Supreme Court case of Hamdan implies that Section 104 may in fact apply to civilians and be tried by military commissions. But this is not completely settled. Because the authorities are unclear, any competent lawyer today would have to tell a prospective civilian whistleblower that she may well be prosecuted for the capital offense of aiding the enemy just for leaking to the press.
Yochai Benkler is a professor at Harvard Law School and co-Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.
BY YOCHAI BENKLER
Find this story at 1 March 2013
COPYRIGHT 2013 © THE NEW REPUBLIC
Manning plea statement: Americans had a right to know ’true cost of war’
8 maart 2013
After admitting guilt in 10 of 22 charges, soldier reveals how he came to share classified documents with WikiLeaks and talks of ‘bloodlust’ of US helicopter crew
• Glenn Greenwald: Bradley Manning – the face of heroism
Manning’s statement recounted how he had first become aware of WikiLeaks in 2009. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of the biggest unauthorised disclosure of state secrets in US history, has pleaded guilty to being the source of the leak, telling a military court that he passed the information to a whistleblowing website because he believed the American people had a right to know the “true costs of war”.
At a pre-trial hearing on a Maryland military base, Manning, 25, who faces spending the rest of his life in military custody, read out a 35-page statement in which he gave an impassioned account of his motives for transmitting classified documents and videos he had obtained while working as an intelligence analyst outside Baghdad.
Sitting at the defence bench in a hushed courtroom, Manning said he was sickened by the apparent “bloodlust” of a helicopter crew involved in an attack on a group in Baghdad that turned out to include Reuters correspondents and children.
He believed the Afghan and Iraq war logs published by the WikiLeaks website, initially in association with a consortium of international media organisations that included the Guardian, were “among the more significant documents of our time revealing the true costs of war”. The decision to pass the classified information to a public website was motivated, he told the court, by his depression about the state of military conflict in which the US was mired.
Manning said: “We were obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and ignoring goals and missions. I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general [that] might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter-terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day.”
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In a highly unusual move for a defendant in such a serious criminal prosecution, Manning pleaded guilty to 10 lesser charges out of his own volition – not as part of a plea bargain with the prosecution. He admitted to having possessed and willfully communicated to an unauthorised person – probably Julian Assange – all the main elements of the WikiLeaks disclosure.
That covered the so-called “Collateral Murder” video of an Apache helicopter attack in Iraq; some US diplomatic cables including one of the early WikiLeaks publications the Reykjavik cable; portions of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs; some of the files on detainees in Guantánamo; and two intelligence memos.
The charges to which the soldier pleaded guilty carry a two-year maximum sentence each, committing Manning to a possible upper limit of 20 years in military prison.
But the plea does not avoid a long and complex trial for the soldier, that is currently scheduled to begin on 3 June. Manning pleaded not guilty to 12 counts which relate to the major offences of which he is accused by the US government.
Specifically, he denied he had been involved in “aiding the enemy” – the idea that he knowingly gave help to al-Qaida and caused secret intelligence to be published on the internet, aware that by doing so it would become available to the enemy.
As he read his statement, Manning was flanked by his civilian lawyer, David Coombs, on one side and two military defence lawyers on the other. Wearing full uniform, the soldier read out the document at high speed, occasionally stumbling over the words and at other points laughing at his own comments.
He recounted how he had first become aware of WikiLeaks in 2009. He was particularly impressed by its release in November that year of more than 500,000 text messages sent on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
He had originally copied the war logs as a good housekeeping measure to have quick access to the information. But the more he read into the data, he said, the more he was concerned about what it was uncovering.
He decided to take a copy of the data on a memory stick when he went back from Iraq to the US on leave in January 2010. There, having failed to interest the Washington Post and the New York Times in the stash of information, he turned to WikiLeaks.
On his return to Iraq, he encountered a video that showed an Apache helicopter attack from 2007 in which a group of people in Baghdad came under US fire. The group was later found to have included civilians, children and two Reuters correspondents who died.
Manning said he was “troubled” by the resistance of the military authorities to releasing the video to Reuters, and a claim from on high that it might not still exist. When he looked through the video on a secure military database he was also troubled by the attitude of the aerial weapons team in the Apache – “the bloodlust they seemed to have, they seemed not to value human life”.
The soldier related that in the video a man who has been hit by the US forces is seen crawling injured through the dust, at which point one of the helicopter crew is heard wishing the man would pick up a weapon so that they could kill him. “For me that was like a child torturing an ant with a magnifying glass.”
After he had uploaded the video to WikiLeaks, which then posted it as the now notorious “Collateral Murder” video, Manning said he was approached by a senior WikiLeaks figure codenamed “Ox”. He assumed the individual was probably Julian Assange, and gave him his own codename – Nathaniel Frank – after the author of a book he had recently read.
Of the largest portion of the WikiLeaks disclosures – the 250,000 US diplomatic cables – Manning said he was convinced the documents from embassies around the world would embarrass but not damage the US. “I thought these cables were a prime example of the need for more diplomacy. In many ways they were a collection of cliques and gossip,” he said.
After reading his statement, Manning entered into several hours of questions from the trial judge, Colonel Denise Lind, who has the duty of ensuring that the accused made his guilty plea voluntarily and in full knowledge of its implications. Lind found Manning made his plea without coercion and in knowledge of its impact, and accepted it.
In the course of the questioning, Lind tried to get to the bottom of an apparent contradiction in Manning’s comments. In his statement, he expressed strong moral reasons for his actions that suggested he was justified in leaking confidential information for the greater good.
Ed Pilkington at Fort Meade, Maryland
The Guardian, Thursday 28 February 2013 22.21 GMT
Find this story at 28 February 2013
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
Pfc. Bradley E. Manning’s Statement for the Providence Inquiry
8 maart 2013
For more information on the lack of public and press access to United States v. Pfc. Manning, visit the Center for Constitutional Rights, which filed a petition requesting the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA) “to order the Judge to grant the public and press access to the government’s motion papers, the court’s own orders, and transcripts of proceedings, none of which have been made public to date.”
The statement below was read by Private First Class Bradley E. Manning at the providence inquiry for his formal plea of guilty to one specification under Article 92 with a substituted time frame for the offense, and nine specifications for lesser included offenses under Article 134. He pled not guilty to 12 other specifications. This transcript was taken by journalist Alexa O’Brien at the Article 39(a) session of United States v. Pfc. Bradley Manning on February 28, 2013 at Fort Meade, MD, USA.
Judge Lind: Pfc. Manning you may read your statement.
Pfc. Bradley Manning: Yes, your Honor. I wrote this statement in the confinement facility. Start now. The following facts are provided in support of the providence inquiry for my court martial, United States v. Pfc. Bradley E. Manning.
I am a twenty-five year old Private First Class in the United States Army currently assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, HHC, US Army Garrison (USAG), Joint Base Myer, Henderson Hall, Fort Meyer, Virginia.
My [exodus?] assignment I was assigned to HHC, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, NY. My primary military occupational specialty or MOS is 35 Foxtrot intelligence analyst. I entered active duty status on 2 October 2007. I enlisted with the hope of obtaining both real world experience and earning benefits under the GI Bill for college opportunities.
Facts regarding my position as an intelligence analyst.
In order to enlist in the Army I took the Standard Armed Services Aptitude Battery or [ASVAB?]. My score on this battery was high enough for me to qualify for any enlisted MOS position. My recruiter informed me that I should select an MOS that complimented my interests outside the military. In response, I told him that I was interested in geopolitical matters and information technology. He suggested that I consider becoming an intelligence analyst.
After researching the intelligence analyst position, I agreed that this would be a good fit for me. In particular, I enjoyed the fact that an analyst could use information derived from a variety of sources to create work products that informed the command of its available choices for determining the best course of action or COA’s. Although the MOS required working knowledge of computers, it primarily required me to consider how raw information can be combined with other available intelligence sources in order to create products that assisted the command in its situational awareness or SA.
I accessed that my natural interest in geopolitical affairs and my computer skills would make me an excellent intelligence analyst. After enlisting I reported to the Fort Meade military entrance processing station on 1 October 2007. I then traveled to and reported at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri on 2 October 2007 to begin basic combat training or BCT.
Once at Fort Leonard Wood I quickly realized that I was neither physically nor mentally prepared for the requirements of basic training. My BCT experience lasted six months instead of the normal ten weeks. Due to medical issues, I was placed on a hold status. A physical examination indicated that I sustained injuries to my right soldier and left foot.
Due to those injuries I was unable to continue ‘basic’. During medical hold, I was informed that I may be out processed from the Army, however, I resisted being chaptered out because I felt that I could overcome my medical issues and continue to serve. On 2[8 or 20?] January 2008, I returned to basic combat training. This time I was better prepared and I completed training on 2 April 2008.
I then reported for the MOS specific Advanced Individual Training or AIT on 7 April 2008. AIT was an enjoyable experience for me. Unlike basic training where I felt different from the other soldiers, I fit in and did well. I preferred the mental challenges of reviewing a large amount of information from various sources and trying to create useful or actionable products. I especially enjoyed the practice of analysis through the use of computer applications and methods that I was familiar with.
I graduated from AIT on 16 August 2008 and reported to my first duty station, Fort Drum, NY on 28 August 2008. As an analyst, Significant Activities or SigActs were a frequent source of information for me to use in creating work products. I started working extensively with SigActs early after my arrival at Fort Drum. My computer background allowed me to use the tools of organic to the Distributed Common Ground System-Army or D6-A computers to create polished work products for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team chain of command.
The non-commissioned officer in charge, or NCOIC, of the S2 section, then Master Sergeant David P. Adkins recognized my skills and potential and tasked me to work on a tool abandoned by a previously assigned analyst, the incident tracker. The incident tracker was viewed as a back up to the Combined Information Data Network Exchange or CIDNE and as a unit, historical reference to work with.
In the months preceding my upcoming deployment, I worked on creating a new version of the incident tracker and used SigActs to populate it. The SigActs I used were from Afghanistan, because at the time our unit was scheduled to deploy to the Logar and Wardak Provinces of Afghanistan. Later my unit was reassigned to deploy to Eastern Baghdad, Iraq. At that point, I removed the Afghanistan SigActs and switched to Iraq SigActs.
As and analyst I viewed the SigActs as historical data. I believed this view is shared by other all-source analysts as well. SigActs give a first look impression of a specific or isolated event. This event can be an improvised explosive device attack or IED, small arms fire engagement or SAF, engagement with a hostile force, or any other event a specific unit documented and recorded in real time.
In my perspective the information contained within a single SigAct or group of SigActs is not very sensitive. The events encapsulated within most SigActs involve either enemy engagements or causalities. Most of this information is publicly reported by the public affairs office or PAO, embedded media pools, or host nation (HN) media.
As I started working with SigActs I felt they were similar to a daily journal or log that a person may keep. They capture what happens on a particular day in time. They are created immediately after the event, and are potentially updated over a period of hours until final version is published on the Combined Information Data Network Exchange. Each unit has its own Standard Operating Procedure or SOP for reporting and recording SigActs. The SOP may differ between reporting in a particular deployment and reporting in garrison.
In garrison, a SigAct normally involves personnel issues such as driving under the influence or DUI incidents or an automobile accident involving the death or serious injury of a soldier. The reports starts at the company level and goes up to the battalion, brigade, and even up to the division level.
In deployed environment a unit may observe or participate in an event and a platoon leader or platoon sergeant may report the event as a SigAct to the company headquarters and through the radio transmission operator or RTO. The commander or RTO will then forward the report to the battalion battle captain or battle non-commissioned officer or NCO. Once the battalion battle captain or battle NCO receives the report they will either (1) notify the battalion operations officer or S3; (2) conduct an action, such as launching a quick reaction force; or (3) record the event and report– and further report it up the chain of command to the brigade.
The reporting of each event is done by radio or over the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network or SIPRNet, normally by an assigned soldier, usually junior enlisted E-4 and below. Once the SigAct is recorded, the SigAct is further sent up the chain of command. At each level, additional information can either be added or corrected as needed. Normally within 24 to 48 hours, the updating and reporting or a particular SigAct is complete. Eventually all reports and SigActs go through the chain of command from brigade to division and division to corps. At corps level the SigAct is finalized and [missed word].
The CIDNE system contains a database that is used by thousands of Department of Defense– DoD personnel– including soldiers, civilians, and contractors support. It was the United States Central Command or CENTCOM reporting tool for operational reporting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two separate but similar databases were maintained for each theater– CIDNE-I for Iraq and CIDNE-A for Afghanistan. Each database encompasses over a hundred types of reports and other historical information for access. They contain millions of vetted and finalized directories including operational intelligence reporting.
CIDNE was created to collect and analyze battle-space data to provide daily operational and Intelligence Community (IC) reporting relevant to a commander’s daily decision making process. The CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A databases contain reporting and analysis fields for multiple disciplines including Human Intelligence or HUMINT reports, Psychological Operations or PSYOP reports, Engagement reports, Counter Improvised Explosive Device or CIED reports, SigAct reports, Targeting reports, Social and Cultural reports, Civil Affairs reports, and Human Terrain reporting.
As an intelligence analyst, I had unlimited access to the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A databases and the information contained within them. Although each table within the database is important, I primarily dealt with HUMINT reports, SigAct reports, and Counter IED reports, because these reports were used to create a work product I was required to published as an analyst.
In working on an assignment I looked anywhere and everywhere for information. As an all-source analyst, this was something that was expected. The D6-A systems had databases built in, and I utilized them on a daily basis. This simply was– the search tools available on the D6-A systems on SIPRNet such as Query Tree and the DoD and Intellink search engines.
Primarily, I utilized the CIDNE database using the historical and HUMINT reporting to conduct my analysis and provide a back up for my work product. I did statistical analysis on historical data including SigActs to back up analysis that were based on HUMINT reporting and produce charts, graphs, and tables. I also created maps and charts to conduct predictive analysis based on statistical trends. The SigAct reporting provided a reference point for what occurred and provided myself and other analysts with the information to conclude possible outcome.
Although SigAct reporting is sensitive at the time of their creation, their sensitivity normally dissipates within 48 to 72 hours as the information is either publicly released or the unit involved is no longer in the area and not in danger.
It is my understanding that the SigAct reports remain classified only because they are maintained within CIDNE– because it is only accessible on SIPRnet. Everything on CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A to include SigAct reporting was treated as classified information.
Facts regarding the storage of SigAct Reports.
As part of my training at Fort Drum, I was instructed to ensure that I create back ups of my work product. The need to create back ups was particularly acute given the relative instability and reliability of the computer systems we used in the field during deployment. These computer systems included both organic and theater provided equipment (TPE) D6-A machines.
The organic D6-A machines we brought with us into the field on our deployment were Dell [missed word] laptops and the TPE D6-A machines were Alienware brand laptops. The [M90?] D6-A laptops were the preferred machine to use as they were slightly faster and had fewer problems with dust and temperature than the theater provided Alienware laptops. I used several D6-A machines during the deployment due to various technical problems with the laptops.
With these issues several analysts lost information, but I never lost information due to the multiple backups I created. I attempted to backup as much relevant information as possible. I would save the information so that I or another analyst could quickly access it whenever a machine crashed, SIPRnet connectivity was down, or I forgot where the data was stored.
When backing up information I would do one or all of the following things based on my training:
[(1)] Physical back up. I tried to keep physical back up copies of information on paper so that the information could be grabbed quickly. Also, it was easier to brief from hard copies of research and HUMINT reports.
(2) Local drive back up. I tried to sort out information I deemed relevant and keep complete copies of the information on each of the computers I used in the Temporary Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or T-SCIF, including my primary and secondary D6-A machines. This was stored under my user profile on the desktop.
[(3)] Shared drive backup. Each analyst had access to a ‘T’ drive– what we called ‘T’ drive shared across the SIPRnet. It allowed others to access information that was stored on it. S6 operated the ‘T’ drive.
[(4)] Compact disk rewritable or CD-RW back up. For larger datasets I saved the information onto a re-writable disk, labeled the disks, and stored them in the conference room of the T-SCIF. This redundancy permitted us the ability to not worry about information loss. If the system crashed, I could easily pull the information from a my secondary computer, the ‘T’ drive, or one of the CD-RWs.
If another analyst wanted to access my data, but I was unavailable she could find my published products directory on the ‘T’ drive or on the CD-RWs. I sorted all of my products or research by date, time, and group; and updated the information on each of the storage methods to ensure that the latest information was available to them.
During the deployment I had several of the D6-A machines crash on me. Whenever one of the a computer crashed, I usually lost information but the redundancy method ensured my ability to quickly restore old backup data and add my current information to the machine when it was repaired or replaced.
I stored the backup CD-RW with larger datasets in the conference room of the T-SCIF or next to my workstation. I marked the CD-RWs based on the classification level and its content. Unclassified CD-RWs were only labeled with the content type and not marked with classification markings. Early on in the deployment, I only saved and stored the SigActs that were within or near our operational environment.
Later I thought it would be easier to just to save all of the SigActs onto a CD-RW. The process would not take very long to complete and so I downloaded the SigActs from CIDNE-I onto a CD-RW. After finishing with CIDNE-I, I did the same with CIDNE-A. By retrieving the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigActs I was able to retrieve the information whenever I needed it, and not rely upon the unreliable and slow SIPRnet connectivity needed to pull. Instead, I could just find the CD-RW and open up a pre-loaded spreadsheet.
This process began in late December 2009 and continued through early January 2010. I could quickly export one month of the SigAct data at a time and download in the background as I did other tasks.
The process took approximately a week for each table. After downloading the SigAct tables, I periodically updated them, by pulling only the most recent SigActs and simply copying them and pasting them into the database saved on the CD-RW. I never hid the fact that I had downloaded copies of both the SigAct tables from CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A. They were stored on appropriately labeled and marked CD-RWs, stored in the open.
I viewed the saved copies of the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigAct tables as being for both for my use and the use of anyone within the S2 section during the SIPRnet connectivity issues.
In addition to the SigAct tables, I had a large repository of HUMINT reports and Counter IED reports downloaded from CIDNE-I. These contained reports that were relevant to the area in and around our operational environment in Eastern Baghdad and the Diyala Province of Iraq.
In order to compress the data to fit onto a CD-RW, I used a compression algorithm called ‘bzip2’. The program used to compress the data is called ‘WinRAR’. WinRAR is an application that is free, and can be easily downloaded from the internet via the Non-Secure Internet Relay Protocol Network or NIPRnet. I downloaded WinRAR on NIPRnet and transferred it to the D6-A machine user profile desktop using a CD-RW. I did not try to hide the fact that I was downloading WinRAR onto my SIPRnet D6-A machine or computer.
With the assistance of the bzip2 compression algorithm using the WinRAR program, I was able to fit all of the SigActs onto a single CD-RW and relevant HUMINT and Counter IED reports onto a separate CD-RW.
Facts regarding my knowledge of the WikiLeaks Organization or WLO.
I first became vaguely aware of the WLO during my AIT at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, although I did not fully pay attention until the WLO released purported Short Messaging System or SMS messages from 11 September 2001 on 25 November 2009. At that time references to the release and the WLO website showed up in my daily Google news open source search for information related to US foreign policy.
The stories were about how WLO published about approximately 500,000 messages. I then reviewed the messages myself and realized that the posted messages were very likely real given the sheer volume and detail of the content.
After this, I began conducting research on WLO. I conducted searches on both NIPRnet and SIPRnet on WLO beginning in late November 2009 and early December 2009. At this time I also began to routinely monitor the WLO website. In response to one of my searches in December 2009, I found the United States Army Counter Intelligence Center or USACIC report on the WikiLeaks organization. After reviewing the report, I believed that this report was possibly the one that my AIT referenced in early 2008.
I may or may not have saved the report on my D6-A workstation. I know I reviewed the document on other occasions throughout early 2010, and saved it on both my primary and secondary laptops. After reviewing the report, I continued doing research on WLO. However, based upon my open-source collection, I discovered information that contradicted the 2008 USACIC report including information that indicated that similar to other press agencies, WLO seemed to be dedicated to exposing illegal activities and corruption.
WLO received numerous award and recognition for its reporting activities. Also, in reviewing the WLO website, I found information regarding US military SOPs for Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and information on the then outdated rules of engagement for ROE in Iraq for cross-border pursuits of former members of Saddam Hussein [missed word] government.
After seeing the information available on the WLO website, I continued following it and collecting open source information from it. During this time period, I followed several organizations and groups including wire press agencies such as the Associated Press and Reuters and private intelligence agencies including Strategic Forecasting or Stratfor. This practice was something I was trained to do during AIT, and was something that good analysts were expected to do.
During the searches of WLO, I found several pieces of information that I found useful in my work product– in my work as an analyst, specifically I recall WLO publishing documents related to weapons trafficking between two nations that affected my OP. I integrated this information into one or more of my work products.
In addition to visiting the WLO website, I began following WLO using Instant Relay Chat or IRC Client called ‘XChat’ sometime in early January 2010.
IRC is a protocol for real time internet communications by messaging and conferencing, colloquially referred to as chat rooms or chats. The IRC chat rooms are designed for group communication discussion forums. Each IRC chat room is called a channel– similar to a television where you can tune in or follow a channel– so long as it is open and does not require an invite.
Once you joining a specific IRC conversation, other users in the conversation can see that you have joined the room. On the Internet there are millions of different IRC channels across several services. Channel topics span a range of topics covering all kinds of interests and hobbies. The primary reason for following WLO on IRC was curiosity– particularly in regards to how and why they obtained the SMS messages referenced above. I believed that collecting information on the WLO would assist me in this goal.
Initially I simply observed the IRC conversations. I wanted to know how the organization was structured, and how they obtained their data. The conversations I viewed were usually technical in nature but sometimes switched to a lively debate on issues the particular individual may have felt strongly about.
Over a period of time I became more involved in these discussions especially when conversations turned to geopolitical events and information technology topics, such as networking and encryption methods. Based on these observations, I would describe the WL organization as almost academic in nature. In addition to the WLO conversations, I participated in numerous other IRC channels across at least three different networks. The other IRC channels I participated in normally dealt with technical topics including with Linux and Berkley Secure Distribution BSD operating systems or OS’s, networking, encryption algorithms and techniques, and other more political topics, such as politics and [missed word].
I normally engaged in multiple IRC conversations simultaneously– mostly publicly, but often privately. The XChat client enabled me to manage these multiple conversations across different channels and servers. The screen for XChat was often busy, but its screens enabled me to see when something was interesting. I would then select the conversation and either observe or participate.
I really enjoyed the IRC conversations pertaining to and involving the WLO, however, at some point in late February or early March of 2010, the WLO IRC channel was no longer accessible. Instead, regular participants of this channel switched to using the Jabber server. Jabber is another internet communication [missed word] similar but more sophisticated than IRC.
The IRC and Jabber conversations, allowed me to feel connected to others even when alone. They helped me pass the time and keep motivated throughout the deployment.
Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of the SigActs.
As indicated above I created copies of the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigAct tables as part of the process of backing up information. At the time I did so, I did not intend to use this information for any purpose other than for back up. However, I later decided to release this information publicly. At that time, I believe and still believe that these tables are two of the most significant documents of our time.
On 8 January 2010, I collected the CD-RW I stored in the conference room of the T-SCIF and placed it into the cargo pocket of my ACU or Army Combat Uniform. At the end of my shift, I took the CD-RW out of the T-SCIF and brought it to my Containerized Housing Unit of CHU. I copied the data onto my personal laptop. Later at the beginning of my shift, I returned the CD-RW back to the conference room of the T-SCIF. At the time I saved the SigActs to my laptop, I planned to take them with me on mid-tour leave and decide what to do with them.
At some point prior to my mid-tour leave, I transferred the information from my computer to a Secure Digital memory card from for my digital camera. The SD card for the camera also worked on my computer and allowed me to store the SigAct tables in a secure manner for transport.
I began mid-tour leave on 23 January 2010, flying from Atlanta, Georgia to Reagan National Airport in Virginia. I arrived at the home of my aunt, Debra M. Van Alstyne, in Potomac, Maryland and quickly got into contact with my then boyfriend, Tyler R. Watkins. Tyler, then a student at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and I made plans for me to visit him [the] Boston, Massachusetts area.
I was excited to see Tyler and planned on talking to Tyler about where our relationship was going and about my time in Iraq. However, when I arrived in the Boston area Tyler and I seemed to become distant. He did not seem very excited about my return from Iraq. I tried talking to him about our relationship but he refused to make any plans.
I also tried to raising the topic of releasing the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigAct tables to the public. I asked Tyler hypothetical questions about what he would do if he had documents that he thought the public needed access to. Tyler really didn’t really have a specific answer for me. He tried to answer the questions and be supportive, but seemed confused by the question in this and its context.
I then tried to be more specific, but he asked too many questions. Rather than try to explain my dilemma, I decided to just to drop the conversation. After a few days in Waltham, I began to feel really bad feeling that I was over staying my welcome, and I returned to Maryland. I spent the remainder of my time on leave in the Washington, DC area.
During this time a blizzard bombarded the mid-atlantic, and I spent a significant period of time essentially stuck in my aunt’s house in Maryland. I began to think about what I knew and the information I still had in my possession. For me, the SigActs represented the on the ground reality of both the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I felt that we were risking so much for people that seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and anger on both sides. I began to become depressed with the situation that we found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year. The SigActs documented this in great detail and provide a context of what we were seeing on the ground.
In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.
At my aunt’s house I debated what I should do with the SigActs– in particular whether I should hold on to them– or expose them through a press agency. At this point I decided that it made sense to try to expose the SigAct tables to an American newspaper. I first called my local newspaper, The Washington Post, and spoke with a woman saying that she was a reporter. I asked her if The Washington Post would be interested in receiving information that would have enormous value to the American public.
Although we spoke for about five minutes concerning the general nature of what I possessed, I do not believe she took me seriously. She informed me that The Washington Post would possibly be interested, but that such decisions were made only after seeing the information I was referring to and after consideration by the senior editors.
I then decided to contact the largest and most popular newspaper, The New York Times. I called the public editor number on The New York Times website. The phone rang and was answered by a machine. I went through the menu to the section for news tips. I was routed to an answering machine. I left a message stating I had access to information about Iraq and Afghanistan that I believed was very important. However, despite leaving my Skype phone number and personal email address, I never received a reply from The New York Times.
I also briefly considered dropping into the office for the Political Commentary blog, Politico, however the weather conditions during my leave hampered my efforts to travel. After these failed efforts I had ultimately decided to submit the materials to the WLO. I was not sure if the WLO would actually publish these the SigAct tables [missed a few words]. I was also concerned that they might not be noticed by the American media. However, based upon what I read about the WLO through my research described above, this seemed to be the best medium for publishing this information to the world within my reach.
At my aunt’s house I joined in on an IRC conversation and stated I had information that needed to be shared with the world. I wrote that the information would help document the true cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the individuals in the IRC asked me to describe the information. However, before I could describe the information another individual pointed me to the link for the WLO website’s online submission system. After ending my IRC connection, I considered my options one more time. Ultimately, I felt that the right thing to do was to release the SigActs.
On 3 February 2010, I visited the WLO website on my computer and clicked on the submit documents link. Next I found the submit your information online link and elected to submit the SigActs via the onion router or TOR anonymizing network by a special link. TOR is a system intended to provide anonymity online. The software routes internet traffic through a network of servers and other TOR clients in order to conceal the user’s location and identity.
I was familiar with TOR and had it previously installed on a computer to anonymously monitor the social media websites of militia groups operating within central Iraq. I followed the prompts and attached the compressed data files of CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigActs. I attached a text file I drafted while preparing to provide the documents to The Washington Post. It provided rough guidelines saying ‘It’s already been sanitized of any source identifying information. You might need to sit on this information– perhaps 90 to 100 days to figure out how best to release such a large amount of data and to protect its source. This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of twenty-first century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day.’
After sending this, I left the SD card in a camera case at my aunt’s house in the event I needed it again in the future. I returned from mid-tour leave on 11 February 2010. Although the information had not yet been publicly published by the WLO, I felt this sense of relief by them having it. I felt I had accomplished something that allowed me to have a clear conscience based upon what I had seen and read about and knew were happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan everyday.
Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of 10 Reykjavik 13.
I first became aware of the diplomatic cables during my training period in AIT. I later learned about the Department of State or DoS Net-centric Diplomacy NCD portal from the 2/10 Brigade Combat Team S2, Captain Steven Lim. Captain Lim sent a section wide email to the other analysts and officers in late December 2009 containing the SIPRnet link to the portal along with the instructions to look at the cables contained within them and to incorporate them into our work product.
Shortly after this I also noticed the diplomatic cables were being reported to in products from the corps level US Forces Iraq or USF-I. Based upon Captain Lim’s direction to become familiar with its contents, I read virtually every published cable concerning Iraq.
I also began scanning the database and reading other random cables that piqued my curiosity. It was around this time– in early to mid-January of 2010, that I began searching the database for information on Iceland. I became interested in Iceland due to the IRC conversations I viewed in the WLO channel discussing an issue called Icesave. At this time I was not very familiar with the topic, but it seemed to be a big issue for those participating in the conversation. This is when I decided to investigate and conduct a few searches on Iceland and find out more.
At the time, I did not find anything discussing the Icesave issue either directly or indirectly. I then conducted an open source search for Icesave. I then learned that Iceland was involved in a dispute with the United Kingdom and the Netherlands concerning the financial collapse of one or more of Iceland’s banks. According to open source reporting much of the public controversy involved the United Kingdom’s use of anti-terrorism legislation against Iceland in order to freeze Icelandic access assets for payment of the guarantees for UK depositors that lost money.
Shortly after returning from mid-tour leave, I returned to the Net Centric Diplomacy portal to search for information on Iceland and Icesave as the topic had not abated on the WLO IRC channel. To my surprise, on 14 February 2010, I found the cable 10 Reykjavik 13, which referenced the Icesave issue directly.
The cable published on 13 January 2010 was just over two pages in length. I read the cable and quickly concluded that Iceland was essentially being bullied diplomatically by two larger European powers. It appeared to me that Iceland was out viable options and was coming to the US for assistance. Despite the quiet request for assistance, it did not appear that we were going to do anything.
From my perspective it appeared that we were not getting involved due to the lack of long term geopolitical benefit to do so. After digesting the contents of 10 Reykjavik 13 I debated on whether this was something I should send to the WLO. At this point the WLO had not published or acknowledged receipt of the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigAct tables. Despite not knowing that if the SigActs were a priority for the WLO, I decided the cable was something that would be important and I felt that I would I might be able to right a wrong by having them publish this document. I burned the information onto a CD-RW on 15 February 2010, took it to my CHU, and saved it onto my personal laptop.
I navigated to the WLO website via a TOR connection like before and uploaded the document via the secure form. Amazingly, when WLO published 10 Reykjavik 13 within hours, proving that the form worked and that they must have received the SigAct tables.
Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team or AW team video.
During the mid-February 2010 time frame the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division targeting analyst , then Specialist Jihrleah W. Showman and others discussed a video that Ms. Showman had found on the ‘T’ drive.
The video depicted several individuals being engaged by an aerial weapons team. At first I did not consider the video very special, as I have viewed countless other war porn type videos depicting combat. However, the recording of audio comments by the aerial weapons team crew and the second engagement in the video of an unarmed bongo truck troubled me.
As Showman and a few other analysts and officers in the T-SCIF commented on the video and debated whether the crew violated the rules of engagement or ROE in the second engagement, I shied away from this debate, instead conducting some research on the event. I wanted to learn what happened and whether there was any background to the events of the day that the event occurred, 12 July 2007.
Using Google I searched for the event by its date by its and general location. I found several news accounts involving two Reuters employees who were killed during the aerial weapon team engagement. Another story explained that Reuters had requested for a copy of the video under the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA. Reuters wanted to view the video in order to be able to understand what had happened and to improve their safety practices in combat zones. A spokesperson for Reuters was quoted saying that the video might help avoid the reoccurrence of the tragedy and believed there was a compelling need for the immediate release of the video.
Despite the submission of the FOIA request, the news account explained that CENTCOM replied to Reuters stating that they could not give a time frame for considering a FOIA request and that the video might no longer exist. Another story I found written a year later said that even though Reuters was still pursuing their request, they still did not receive a formal response or written determination in accordance with FOIA.
The fact neither CENTCOM or Multi National Forces Iraq or MNF-I would not voluntarily release the video troubled me further. It was clear to me that the event happened because the aerial weapons team mistakenly identified Reuters employees as a potential threat and that the people in the bongo truck were merely attempting to assist the wounded. The people in the van were not a threat but merely ‘good samaritans’. The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.
They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote “dead bastards” unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.
While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew’s lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew– as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.
Shortly after the second engagement, a mechanized infantry unit arrives at the scene. Within minutes, the aerial weapons team crew learns that children were in the van and despite the injuries the crew exhibits no remorse. Instead, they downplay the significance of their actions, saying quote “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kid’s into a battle” unquote.
The aerial weapons team crew members sound like they lack sympathy for the children or the parents. Later in a particularly disturbing manner, the aerial weapons team crew verbalizes enjoyment at the sight of one of the ground vehicles driving over a body– or one of the bodies. As I continued my research, I found an article discussing the book, The Good Soldiers, written by Washington Post writer David Finkel.
In Mr. Finkel book, he writes about the aerial weapons team attack. As, I read an online excerpt in Google Books, I followed Mr. Finkel’s account of the event belonging to the video. I quickly realize that Mr. Finkel was quoting, I feel in verbatim, the audio communications of the aerial weapons team crew.
It is clear to me that Mr. Finkel obtained access and a copy of the video during his tenure as an embedded journalist. I was aghast at Mr. Finkel’s portrayal of the incident. Reading his account, one would believe the engagement was somehow justified as ‘payback’ for an earlier attack that lead to the death of a soldier. Mr. Finkel ends his account of the engagement by discussing how a soldier finds an individual still alive from the attack. He writes that the soldier finds him and sees him gesture with his two forefingers together, a common method in the Middle East to communicate that they are friendly. However, instead of assisting him, the soldier makes an obscene gesture extending his middle finger.
The individual apparently dies shortly thereafter. Reading this, I can only think of how this person was simply trying to help others, and then he quickly finds he needs help as well. To make matter worse, in the last moments of his life, he continues to express his friendly gesture– his friendly intent– only to find himself receiving this well known gesture of unfriendliness. For me it’s all a big mess, and I am left wondering what these things mean, and how it all fits together , and it burdens me emotionally.
I saved a copy of the video on my workstation. I searched for and found the rules of engagement, the rules of engagement annexes, and a flow chart from the 2007 time period– as well as an unclassified Rules of Engagement smart card from 2006. On 15 February 2010 I burned these documents onto a CD-RW, the same time I burned the 10 Reykjavik 13 cable onto a CD-RW. At the time, I placed the video and rules for of engagement information onto my personal laptop in my CHU. I planned to keep this information there until I redeployed in Summer of 2010. I planned on providing this to the Reuters office in London to assist them in preventing events such as this in the future.
However, after the WLO published 10 Reykjavik 13 I altered my plans. I decided to provide the video and the rules of engagement to them so that Reuters would have this information before I re-deployed from Iraq. On about 21 February 2010, I as described above, I used the WLO submission form and uploaded the documents. The WLO released the video on 5 April 2010. After the release, I was concern about the impact of the video and how it would be received by the general public.
I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me about the conduct of the aerial weapons team crew members. I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare. After the release I was encouraged by the response in the media and general public, who observed the aerial weapons team video. As I hoped, others were just as troubled– if not more troubled that me by what they saw.
At this time, I began seeing reports claiming that the Department of Defense and CENTCOM could not confirm the authenticity of the video. Additionally, one of my supervisors, Captain Casey Fulton, stated her belief that the video was not authentic. In her response, I decided to ensure that the authenticity of the video would not be questioned in the future. On 25 February 2010, I emailed Captain Fulton a link to the video that was on our ‘T’ drive, and a copy of the video published by WLO that was collected by the Open Source Center, so she could compare them herself.
Around this time frame, I burned a second CD-RW containing the aerial weapons team video. In order to made it appear authentic, I placed a classification sticker and wrote Reuters FOIA REQ on its face. I placed the CD-RW in one of my personal CD cases containing a set of ‘Starting Out in Arabic’ CD’s. I planned on mailing out the CD-RW to Reuters after our I re-deployed , so they could have a copy that was unquestionably authentic.
Almost immediately after submitting the aerial weapons team video and the rules of engagement documents I notified the individuals in the WLO IRC to expect an important submission. I received a response from an individual going by the handle of ‘ox’ ‘office’– at first our conversations were general in nature, but over time as our conversations progressed, I accessed assessed this individual to be an important part of the WLO.
Due to the strict adherence of anonymity by the WLO, we never exchanged identifying information. However, I believe the individual was likely Mr. Julian Assange [he pronounced it with three syllables], Mr. Daniel Schmidt, or a proxy representative of Mr. Assange and Schmidt.
As the communications transferred from IRC to the Jabber client, I gave ‘ox’ ‘office’ and later ‘pressassociation’ the name of Nathaniel Frank in my address book, after the author of a book I read in 2009.
After a period of time, I developed what I felt was a friendly relationship with Nathaniel. Our mutual interest in information technology and politics made our conversations enjoyable. We engaged in conversation often. Sometimes as long as an hour or more. I often looked forward to my conversations with Nathaniel after work.
The anonymity that was provided by TOR and the Jabber client and the WLO’s policy allowed me to feel I could just be myself, free of the concerns of social labeling and perceptions that are often placed upon me in real life. In real life, I lacked a closed friendship with the people I worked with in my section, the S2 section.
In my section, the S2 section and supported battalions and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team as a whole. For instance, I lacked close ties with my roommate to his discomfort regarding my perceived sexual orientation. Over the next few months, I stayed in frequent contact with Nathaniel. We conversed on nearly a daily basis and I felt that we were developing a friendship.
Conversations covered many topics and I enjoyed the ability to talk about pretty much everything anything, and not just the publications that the WLO was working on. In retrospect I realize that that these dynamics were artificial and were valued more by myself than Nathaniel. For me these conversations represented an opportunity to escape from the immense pressures and anxiety that I experienced and built up through out the deployment. It seems that as I tried harder to fit in at work, the more I seemed to alienate my peers and lose the respect, trust, and support I needed.
Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of documents related to the detainments by the Iraqi Federal Police or FP, and the Detainee Assessment Briefs, and the USACIC United States Army Counter Intelligence Center report.
On 27 February 2010, a report was received from a subordinate battalion. The report described an event in which the Federal Police or FP detained 15 individuals for printing anti-Iraqi literature. On 2 March 2010, I received instructions from an S3 section officer in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Tactical Operation Center or TOC to investigate the matter, and figure out who these quote ‘bad guys’ unquote were and how significant this event was for the Federal Police.
Over the course of my research I found that none of the individuals had previous ties to anti-Iraqi actions or suspected terrorist militia groups. A few hours later, I received several photos from the scene– from the subordinate battalion. They were accidentally sent to an officer on a different team on than the S2 section and she forwarded them to me.
These photos included picture of the individuals, pallets of unprinted paper and seized copies of the final printed material or the printed document; and a high resolution photo of the printed material itself. I printed up one [missed word] copy of a high resolution photo– I laminated it for ease of use and transfer. I then walked to the TOC and delivered the laminated copy to our category two interpreter.
She reviewed the information and about a half an hour later delivered a rough written transcript in English to the S2 section. I read the transcript and followed up with her, asking her for her take on the content. She said it was easy for her to transcribe verbatim, since I blew up the photograph and laminated it. She said the general nature of the document was benign. The documentation, as I had sensed as well, was merely a scholarly critique of the then current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
It detailed corruption within the cabinet of al-Maliki’s government and the financial impact of his corruption on the Iraqi people. After discovering this discrepancy between the Federal Police’s report and the interpreter’s transcript, I forwarded this discovery to the top OIC and the battle NCOIC. The top OIC and the overhearing battle captain informed me that they didn’t need or want to know this information anymore. They told me to quote “drop it” unquote and to just assist them and the Federal Police in finding out, where more of these print shops creating quote “anti-Iraqi literature” unquote.
I couldn’t believe what I heard and I returned to the T-SCIF and complained to the other analysts and my section NCOIC about what happened. Some were sympathetic, but no one wanted to do anything about it.
I am the type of person who likes to know how things work. And, as an analyst, this means I always want to figure out the truth. Unlike other analysts in my section or other sections within the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, I was not satisfied with just scratching the surface and producing canned or cookie cutter assessments. I wanted to know why something was the way it was, and what we could to correct or mitigate a situation.
I knew that if I continued to assist the Baghdad Federal Police in identifying the political opponents of Prime Minister al-Maliki, those people would be arrested and in the custody of the Special Unit of the Baghdad Federal Police and very likely tortured and not seen again for a very long time– if ever.
Instead of assisting the Special Unit of the Baghdad Federal Police, I decided to take the information and expose it to the WLO, in the hope that before the upcoming 7 March 2010 election, they could generate some immediate press on the issue and prevent this unit of the Federal Police from continuing to crack down on political opponents of al-Maliki.
On 4 March 2010, I burned the report, the photos, the high resolution copy of the pamphlet, and the interpreter’s hand written transcript onto a CD-RW. I took the CD-RW to my CHU and copied the data onto my personal computer. Unlike the times before, instead of uploading the information through the WLO website’s submission form. I made a Secure File Transfer Protocol or SFTP connection to a file drop box operated by the WLO.
The drop box contained a folder that allowed me to upload directly into it. Saving files into this directory, allowed anyone with log in access to the server to view and download them. After uploading these files to the WLO, on 5 March 2010, I notified Nathaniel over Jabber. Although sympathetic, he said that the WLO needed more information to confirm the event in order for it to be published or to gain interest in the international media.
I attempted to provide the specifics, but to my disappointment, the WLO website chose not to publish this information. At the same time, I began sifting through information from the US Southern Command or SOUTHCOM and Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Cuba or JTF-GTMO. The thought occurred to me– although unlikely, that I wouldn’t be surprised if the individuals detainees detained by the Federal Police might be turned over back into US custody– and ending up in the custody of Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
As I digested through the information on Joint Task Force Guantanamo, I quickly found the Detainee Assessment Briefs or DABs. I previously came across the documents before in 2009 but did not think much about them. However, this time I was more curious in during this search and I found them again.
The DABs were written in standard DoD memorandum format and addressed the commander US SOUTHCOM. Each memorandum gave basic and background information about a specific detainee held at some point by Joint Task Force Guantanamo. I have always been interested on the issue of the moral efficacy of our actions surrounding Joint Task Force Guantanamo. On the one hand, I have always understood the need to detain and interrogate individuals who might wish to harm the United States and our allies, however, I felt that’s what we were trying to do at Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
However, the more I became educated on the topic, it seemed that we found ourselves holding an increasing number of individuals indefinitely that we believed or knew to be innocent, low level foot soldiers that did not have useful intelligence and would be released if they were still held in theater.
I also recall that in early 2009 the, then newly elected president, Barack Obama, stated that he would close Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and that the facility compromised our standing over all, and diminished our quote ‘moral authority’ unquote.
After familiarizing myself with the Detainee Assessment Briefs, I agree. Reading through the Detainee Assessment Briefs, I noticed that they were not analytical products, instead they contained summaries of tear line versions of interim intelligence reports that were old or unclassified. None of the DABs contained the names of sources or quotes from tactical interrogation reports or TIR’s. Since the DABs were being sent to the US SOUTHCOM commander, I assessed that they were intended to provide a very general background information on each of the detainees and not a detailed assessment.
In addition to the manner in which the DAB’s were written, I recognized that they were at least several years old, and discussed detainees that were already released from Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Based on this, I determined that the DABs were not very important from either an intelligence or a national security standpoint. On 7 March 2010, during my Jabber conversation with Nathaniel, I asked him if he thought the DABs were of any use to anyone.
Nathaniel indicated, although he did not believe that they were of political significance, he did believe that they could be used to merge into the general historical account of what occurred at Joint Task Force Guantanamo. He also thought that the DAB’s might be helpful to the legal counsel of those currently and previously held at JTF-GTMO.
After this discussion, I decided to download the data DABs. I used an application called Wget to download the DABs. I downloaded Wget off of the NIPRnet laptop in the T-SCIF, like other programs. I saved that onto a CD-RW, and placed the executable in my ‘My Documents’ directory on of my user profile, on the D6-A SIPRnet workstation.
On 7 March 2010, I took the list of links for the Detainee Assessment Briefs, and Wget downloaded them sequentially. I burned the data onto a CD-RW, and took it into my CHU, and copied them to my personal computer. On 8 March 2010, I combined the Detainee Assessment Briefs with the United States Army Counterintelligence Center report on the WLO, into a compressed [missed word] IP or zip file. Zip files contain multiple files which are compressed to reduce their size.
After creating the zip file, I uploaded the file onto their cloud drop box via Secure File Transfer Protocol. Once these were uploaded, I notified Nathaniel that the information was in the ‘x’ directory, which had been designated for my own use. Earlier that day, I downloaded the USACIC report on WLO.
As discussed about above, I previously reviewed the report on numerous occasions and although I saved the document onto the work station before, I could not locate it. After I found the document again, I downloaded it to my work station, and saved it onto the same CD-RW as the Detainee Assessment Briefs described above.
Although my access included a great deal of information, I decided I had nothing else to send to WLO after sending the Detainee Assessment Briefs and the USACIC report. Up to this point I had sent them the following: the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigActs tables; the Reykjavik 13 Department of State Cable; the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team video and the 2006-2007 rules of engagement documents; the SigAct report and supporting documents concerning the 15 individuals detained by the Baghdad Federal Police; the USSOUTHCOM and Joint Task Force Guantanamo Detainee Assessment Briefs; a USACIC report on the WikiLeaks organization website.
Over the next few weeks I did not send any additional information to the WLO. I continued to converse with Nathaniel over the Jabber client and in the WLO IRC channel. Although I stopped sending documents to WLO, no one associated with the WLO pressured me into giving more information. The decisions that I made to send documents and information to the WLO and the website were my own decisions, and I take full responsibility for my actions.
Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of other Government documents.
One 22 March 2010, I downloaded two documents. I found these documents over the course of my normal duties as an analyst. Based on my training and the guidance of my superiors, I look at as much information as possible.
Doing so provided me with the ability to make connections that others might miss. On several occasions during the month of March, I accessed information from a government entity. I read several documents from a section within this government entity. The content of two of these documents upset me greatly. I had difficulty believing what this section was doing.
On 22 March 2010, I downloaded the two documents that I found troubling. I compressed them into a zip file named blah.zip and burned them onto a CD-RW. I took the CD-RW to my CHU and saved the file to my personal computer.
I uploaded the information to the WLO website using the designated prompts.
Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of the Net Centric Diplomacy Department of State cables.
In late March of 2010, I received a warning over Jabber from Nathaniel, that the WLO website would be publishing the aerial weapons team video. He indicated that the WLO would be very busy and the frequency and intensity of our Jabber conversations decrease significantly. During this time, I had nothing but work to distract me.
I read more of the diplomatic cables published on the Department of State Net Centric Diplomacy server. With my insatiable curiosity and interest in geopolitics I became fascinated with them. I read not only the cables on Iraq, but also about countries and events that I found interesting.
The more I read, the more I was fascinated with by the way that we dealt with other nations and organizations. I also began to think that the documented backdoor deals and seemingly criminal activity that didn’t seem characteristic of the de facto leader of the free world.
Up to this point, during the deployment, I had issues I struggled with and difficulty at work. Of the documents release, the cables were the only one I was not absolutely certain couldn’t harm the United States. I conducted research on the cables published on the Net Centric Diplomacy, as well as how Department of State cables worked in general.
In particular, I wanted to know how each cable was published on SIRPnet via the Net Centric Diplomacy. As part of my open source research, I found a document published by the Department of State on its official website.
The document provided guidance on caption markings for individual cables and handling instructions for their distribution. I quickly learned the caption markings clearly detailed the sensitivity level of the Department of State cables. For example, NODIS or No Distribution was used for messages at the highest sensitivity and were only distributed to the authorized recipients.
The SIPDIS or SIPRnet distribution caption was applied only to recording of other information messages that were deemed appropriate for a release for a wide number of individuals. According to the Department of State guidance for a cable to have the SIPDIS [missed word] caption, it could not include other captions that were intended to limit distribution.
The SIPDIS caption was only for information that could only be shared with anyone with access to SIPRnet. I was aware that thousands of military personnel, DoD, Department of State, and other civilian agencies had easy access to the tables. The fact that the SIPDIS caption was only for wide distribution made sense to me, given that the vast majority of the Net Centric Diplomacy Cables were not classified.
The more I read the cables, the more I came to the conclusion that this was the type of information that– that this type of information should become public. I once read a and used a quote on open diplomacy written after the First World War and how the world would be a better place if states would avoid making secret pacts and deals with and against each other.
I thought these cables were a prime example of a need for a more open diplomacy. Given all of the Department of State cables information that I read, the fact that most of the cables were unclassified, and that all the cables have a SIPDIS caption, I believe that the public release of these cables would not damage the United States; however, I did believe that the cables might be embarrassing, since they represented very honest opinions and statements behind the backs of other nations and organizations.
In many ways these cables are a catalogue of cliques and gossip. I believed exposing this information might make some within the Department of State and other government entities unhappy. On 22 March 2010, I began downloading a copy of the SIPDIS cables using the program Wget, described above.
I used instances of the Wget application to download the Net Centric Diplomacy cables in the background. As I worked on my daily tasks, the Net Centric Diplomacy cables were downloaded from 28 March 2010 to 9 April 2010. After downloading the cables, I saved them onto a CD-RW.
These cables went from the earliest dates in Net Centric Diplomacy to 28 February 2010. I took the CD-RW to my CHU on 10 April 2010. I sorted the cables on my personal computer, compressed them using the bzip2 compression algorithm described above, and uploaded them to the WLO via designated drop box described above.
On 3 May 2010, I used Wget to download and update of the cables for the months of March 2010 and April 2010 and saved the information onto a zip file and burned it to a CD-RW. I then took the CD-RW to my CHU and saved those to my computer. I later found that the file was corrupted during the transfer. Although I intended to re-save another copy of these cables, I was removed from the T-SCIF on 8 May 2010 after an altercation.
Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of Garani, Farah Province Afghanistan 15-6 Investigation and Videos.
[NB Pfc. Manning plead ‘not guilty’ to the Specification 11, Charge II for the Garani Video as charged by the government, which alleged as November charge date. Read more here.]
In late March 2010, I discovered a US CENTCOM directly on a 2009 airstrike in Afghanistan. I was searching CENTCOM for information I could use as an analyst. As described above, this was something that myself and other analysts and officers did on a frequent basis. As I reviewed the documents I recalled the incident and what happened. The airstrike occurred in the Garani village in the Farah Province, Northwestern Afghanistan. It received worldwide press coverage during the time as it was reported that up to 100 to 150 Afghan civilians– mostly women and children– were accidentally killed during the airstrike.
After going through the report and the [missed word] annexes, I began to review the incident as being similar to the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team engagements in Iraq. However, this event was noticeably different in that it involved a significantly higher number of individuals, larger aircraft and much heavier munitions. Also, the conclusions of the report are even more disturbing than those of the July 2007 incident.
I did not see anything in the 15-6 report or its annexes that gave away sensitive information. Rather, the investigation and its conclusions helped explain how this incident occurred, and were– what those involved should have done, and how to avoid an event like this from occurring again.
After investigating the report and its annexes, I downloaded the 15-6 investigation, PowerPoint presentations, and several other supporting documents to my D6-A workstation. I also downloaded three zip files containing the videos of the incident. I burned this information onto a CD-RW and transferred it to the personal computer in my CHU. I did later that day or the next day– I uploaded the information to the WLO website this time using a new version of the WLO website submission form.
Unlike other times using the submission form above, I did not activate the TOR anonymizer. Your Honor, this concludes my statement and facts for this providence inquiry.
UPDATE: On March 2, 2013, I went through each line of the rush transcript published here on March 1 to check it for accuracy and inadvertent typos or misspellings.
Since multiple news outlets have printed the rush transcript that was originally published here; every single amendment made during this review– including non-substantive typos– are noted with a strike-through and/or highlighted.
When I first published the rush transcript of Manning’s statement, I had noted under “Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team or AW team video” that the handle of the individual who Manning said he interacted with was ‘office’ and not ‘ox’.
When Guardian journalist, Ed Pilkington, approached me to ask for permission to publish the rush transcript on the guardian.co.uk, we had a quick conversation concerning the fact that both he and a Wired journalist had noted the handle was ‘ox’ and not ‘office’.
Because of the overriding need to publish Manning’s statement as soon as possible, and my being back in Court at Fort Meade during our exchange after having worked through the night to get a rush transcript completed and published, I quickly deferred to consensus and amended ‘office’ to ‘ox’.
After reviewing my rush transcript line-by-line, however, I stand by my original notation of the handle as ‘office’, and not ‘ox’. I have amended the transcript above to reflect that determination.
Categories: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks
By Alexa O’Brien on February 28, 2013 11:59 AM |
Find this story at 28 February 2013
Bradley Manning Gets No Love From The New York Times
8 maart 2013
Last week, in a Grisham-like courtroom scene, Bradley Manning—the Army private charged with leaking hundreds of thousands of classified war logs and State Department cables to WikiLeaks—testified publicly for the first time since his arrest in May of 2010. For more than five hours, Manning described the two months he spent in a “cage” inside a dark tent in Kuwait and the nine months that followed in 23-hours-a-day solitary confinement on a Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia. In one theatrical moment, Manning got up from the stand and paced inside a 6 by 8 tape outline on the courtroom floor to demonstrate the size of his prison cell. In another, he donned the suicide smock he had to wear.
Manning’s testimony was the climax of a week of pre-trial hearings about his experience at Quantico, which, his lawyer argued, was illegal and grounds for dropping the charges against him. The details about Manning’s captors revealed in the hearings—they called his underwear, which they removed at night so he wouldn’t hang himself by the waistband, “panties”; penned a poem about his presumed suicidal tendencies inspired by Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham (“I can wear them in a box / I can wear them with a fox / I can wear them in the day / I can wear them so I say / But I can’t wear them at night / My comments gave the staff a fright”); and ignored a psychiatrist’s recommendations for fewer restrictions—made dispatches read more like a scene from The Lives of Others than a court proceeding in the United States.
There was, however, a notable absence in the courtroom: The New York Times. The paper did not cover the hearings, picking up only one dispatch from the Associated Press. This is odd, especially considering the Times benefited as much as anyone from the material that Manning leaked. After partnering with WikiLeaks to release the cables in July 2010, the Times continued to rely on the documents Manning leaked to Assange in its reporting. In April 2011, an analysis in The Atlantic Wire showed that 54, or nearly half, of the newspaper’s 115 issues so far that year, had contained stories that “relied on WikiLeaks documents as sources.”
“It’s really crazy,” says Michael Ratner, a human rights lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights who has been defending Julian Assange. “[T]he key leaker in U.S. history in the last decade, and they don’t cover his treatment? He’s the one whose materials they used and they don’t cover it? I don’t get it. [T]hey had to make a decision not to do it.”
The Times has covered Manning’s trial to some degree–in early November, the paper published a story about Manning’s plans to plead guilty to some charges and the Times’ editorialized against Manning’s poor treatment at Quantico back in March of 2011. But last week’s hearing, with Manning’s direct testimony, seemed especially newsworthy–outlets including CNN, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and New York Magazine covered it. The Guardian, another newspaper that collaborated with Wikileaks and the Times, sent veteran reporter Ed Pilkington, the chief reporter for Guardian U.S. and a former national and international editor for the paper. Pilkington called his decision to cover the hearings in depth “pure news judgement,” when we spoke.
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The Times has always had a rocky relationship with WikiLeaks, Manning, and other leakers of state secrets. After publishing the cables, Bill Keller, the Times executive editor at the time, wrote an 8,000-word New York Times Magazine story in which he compared Julian Assange to a “bag lady.” “We regarded Assange throughout as a source, not as a partner or collaborator,” he wrote. The Guardian, on the other hand, sought “partnership between a mainstream newspaper and WikiLeaks: a new model of cooperation aimed at publishing the world’s biggest leak,” as Yochai Benkler described it in the Harvard Civil-Rights Civil-Liberties Law Review. (My emails to Times executive editor Jill Abramson, Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt, and Keller, were not answered.)
The Times’ attitude towards Assange and Manning is, at least, consistent with its treatment of leakers in the past. Even though the Times had to defend itself in court for publishing the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellberg told me over the phone that the paper’s lawyers refused to offer him even the smalles amount of help with his criminal case (which was eventually dismissed). In Ellsberg’s telling, A.M. Rosenthal, then the editor-in-chief of the Times, told him there was no policy at the paper regarding prosecutions of sources: Ellsberg was, after all, the first person ever prosecuted for leaking classified government documents to the press.
“Editors and reporters have a good deal of ambivalence towards their sources, especially in the national security field,” Ellsberg told me. “They all thought I had broken the law, and a lot of them may have thought I was a traitor even though they used the material.” When Assange expressed his shock to Ellsberg over a critical profile the Times published about him, Ellsberg told him “don’t take it personally, they didn’t treat me any better.”
DECEMBER 5, 2012
BY ELIZA GRAY
Find this story at 5 December 2013
COPYRIGHT 2013 © THE NEW REPUBLIC
Bradley Manning denied chance to make whistleblower defence
24 januari 2013
Judge rules that Manning will not be allowed to present evidence about his motives for the leak – a key plank of his defence
Colonel Denise Lind ruled that general issues of motive were not relevant to the trial stage of the court martial. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP
Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of being behind the largest leak of state secrets in America’s history, has been denied the chance to make a whistleblower defence in his upcoming court martial in which he faces possible life in military custody with no chance of parole.
The judge presiding over Manning’s prosecution by the US government for allegedly transmitting confidential material to WikiLeaks ruled in a pre-trial hearing that Manning will largely be barred from presenting evidence about his motives in leaking the documents and videos. In an earlier hearing, Manning’s lead defence lawyer, David Coombs, had argued that his motive was key to proving that he had no intention to harm US interests or to pass information to the enemy.
The judge, Colonel Denise Lind, ruled that general issues of motive were not relevant to the trial stage of the court martial, and must be held back until Manning either entered a plea or was found guilty, at which point it could be used in mitigation to lessen the sentence. The ruling is a blow to the defence as it will make it harder for the soldier’s legal team to argue he was acting as a whistleblower and not as someone who knowingly damaged US interests at a time of war.
“This is another effort to attack the whistleblower defence,” said Nathan Fuller, a spokesman for the Bradley Manning support network, after the hearing.
The judge also blocked the defence from presenting evidence designed to show that WikiLeaks caused little or no damage to US national security. Coombs has devoted considerable time and energy trying to extract from US government agencies their official assessments of the impact of WikiLeaks around the world, only to find that he is now prevented from using any of the information he has obtained.
The 25-year-old intelligence analyst faces 22 charges relating to the leaking of hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, war logs from the Afghan and Iraq wars, and videos of US military actions. The most serious charge, “aiding the enemy”, which carries the life sentence, accuses him of arranging for state secrets to be published via WikiLeaks on the internet knowing that al-Qaida would have access to it.
Ed Pilkington in New York
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 17 January 2013 18.22 GMT
Find this story at 17 January 2013
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
Quantico psychiatrist: Bradley Manning’s pretrial confinement worse than death row
30 november 2012
Protesters take action out in the cold rain at Bradley Manning’s November 27th hearing that addressed his unlawful pretrial punishment.
Ft. Meade, MD – Yesterday at Bradley Manning’s Article 13 hearing, professional military psychiatrist Captain Kevin Moore testified that Bradley Manning’s pretrial confinement conditions at Quantico military brig were worse than that of any other long-term pretrial prisoner he’d observed. He added that Bradley’s restrictive conditions, including being held in a 6×8 foot cell, having access to only 20 minutes of sunshine and exercise per day, and being deprived of basic items such as clothing and toilet paper for periods of time, were most comparable to yet still more severe than conditions of prisoners he’d observed on death row.
Bradley Manning’s case garnered considerable media buzz early in 2010 when it came to light that the UN and Amnesty International had initiated investigations into possibly illegal conditions of pretrial confinement at Quantico. Wednesday in court, two high-ranking military psychiatrists, Captain William Hoctor and Captain Moore, testified that the extent to which their recommendations were ignored by the Quantico Marine staff was unlike anything they had experienced elsewhere over a combined 30+ years of experience at various bases. Cpt. Hoctor went so far as to say that even at Guantanamo Bay his recommendations were implemented much faster than at Quantico. At Quantico, it would often take up to two weeks for the staff to implement his recommendations to change a prisoner’s status, in contrast with the few days it would take elsewhere. In PFC Manning’s case, the recommendations of both Cpt. Hoctor and Captain Moore to allow PFC Manning more exercise and downgrade him from Prevention-of-Injury (POI) status based on improved mental state was ignored over the course of many months.
Captain Hoctor said he became the angriest he’d been a long time when Quantico base commander Colonel Daniel Choike stated in a meeting that “Nothing’s going to change. He won’t be able to hurt himself. He’s not going to be able to get away, and our way of ensuring this is that he will remain on this status indefinitely.” During testimony on Tuesday, Col. Choike confirmed his position during that exchange. In reference to this statement, Bradley Manning Support Network Steering Committee member Jeff Paterson responded, “I think a reasonable person can see why PFC Manning was frustrated with these conditions. No matter what he did or how exemplary his behavior, the Col. had no intention of respecting his overall well-being and legal rights as a pretrial prisoner.”
While base commanders Col. Choike and Col. Robert Oltman testified that they believed brig staff acted in interest of PFC Manning’s safety, they both stated that the longest they had seen any other prisoner held at Quantico was 2 months. Additionally, they had both informed commanding officers that the Quantico brig was unsuitable for holding a prisoner longer than 90 days.
During his testimony, Psychiatrist Captain Moore indicated that he’d been trained in military interrogation, and that adverse mental side effects were to be expected in any prisoner held in such constrictive conditions for a long period of time. POI, the psychiatrists clarified, was typically a short-term status. In closing questions, defense attorney David Coombs asked Cpt. Hoctor how, in his professional psychiatric opinion, he would characterize an authority who chose to ignore or discount possible adverse effects when choosing a highly restrictive status such as POI for a long period of time. After a thoughtful look, Cpt. Hoctor replied the word he would choose is “callous.”
By Emma Cape. November 29th, 2012.
Find this story at 29 November 2012
WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning gives evidence for first time
30 november 2012
Manning takes stand at pre-trial hearing and speaks at length about his treatment by the military following his arrest in 2010
Bradley Manning steps out of a security vehicle as he is escorted into the courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP
After 917 days in military captivity, the world finally heard on Thursday from Bradley Manning, the army soldier accused of being the source of the largest leak of government secrets in US history.
In a dramatic opening half-hour of testimony on the third day of the pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade military base in Maryland, Manning spoke at length for the first time about the period after his arrest in May 2010.
Manning detailed the trauma he experienced at the hands of the US military while he was incarcerated for having allegedly handed hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.
His defence lawyer, David Coombs, drew a life-sized representation on the courtroom floor of the 6ft by 8ft cell in which Manning was held at the Quantico base in Virginia after he was brought to the US.
Manning seemed initially nervous but relaxed into his subject. He described a breakdown he had in Kuwait in the days after his arrest. “I was in a pretty stressed situation,” Manning said. “I had no idea what was going on with anything. I was getting very little information.
“I began to really deteriorate. I was anxious all the time about not knowing anything, days blend into night, night into days. Everything became more insular.”
Manning described how his guards stopped taking him out of his cell, preventing any interaction with other detainees. “I didn’t have a good understanding of the reasons. Someone tried to explain to me but I was a mess. I was starting to fall apart.”
He claimed that two or three times a day his guards would give him a “shakedown”. This involved taking him out the cell, then tearing apart everything he had in the cell.
Coombs asked Manning whether he had any recollection of an incident on 30 June 2010, when he had lost control of himself to the extent that doctors had to intervene. “He was screaming, babbling, banging his head against the cell,” said Coombs.
Manning replied: “I knew I had just fallen apart, everything is foggy and hazy at that point.”
The soldier said he thought he would die in Kuwait. “I remember thinking I’m going to die. I thought I was going to die in a cage,” he told the hearing.
A few weeks later, on 29 July, Manning was transferred from Kuwait to Quantico marine base in Virginia. “I had no idea where I was going,” said Manning, who thought he might be taken to Germany. “I was very scared, I had no idea.”
On board the plane, he was placed in full restraint. “The captain went over the intercom, ‘We’ll be arriving in Germany’,” he said. After an hour and a half on the ground, Manning was put back on the plane. Only when the crew announced they were going to Baltimore did Manning discover he was being returned to the US.
That made him feel better, he said. “I didn’t think I would set foot on American soil for a long time.”
Coombs told how conditions in Quantico were tough, however. He drew a life-size representation of the cell on the floor of the court, and asked Manning to step into it, to recreate his conditions. Manning told how he could see a reflection of a skylight through a small gap in the cell door if he angled his head in a particular direction.
Earlier, before Manning took the stand, the military judge accepted the terms under which he would enter a guilty plea to seven charges for disseminating classified documents.
Colonel Denise Lind approved the language of the offences to which Manning would admit. She said those carry a total maximum prison term of 16 years.
Ed Pilkington at Fort Meade, Maryland
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 29 November 2012 21.12 GMT
Find this story at 29 November 2012
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
Bradley Manning treated more harshly than a terrorist, lawyer argues
13 juli 2012
Defence lawyer files motion that ‘aiding the enemy’ charge is stricter against US soldiers than it would be against terrorists
The lawyer defending Bradley Manning against charges that he “aided the enemy” by disclosing state secrets to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, is arguing that US soldiers are being treated more harshly in application of the law than terrorists.
David Coombs, the civilian lawyer who has been representing the soldier for the past two years after he was arrested in Iraq on suspicion of being the WikiLeaks source, will be pressing his case in a military court next week. In a motion that he has lodged with the court as part of the lead up to a full court martial, he warns that unless the “aiding the enemy” charge is clarified it would leave Manning in a more onerous legal position than terrorists facing exactly the same count.
“It defies all logic to think that a terrorist would fare better in an American court for aiding the enemy than a US soldier would,” Coombs writes in the motion.
Aiding the enemy is the most serious of the 22 counts that Manning is facing. In the rank of military charges, it is rated very close to treason and technically carries the death penalty, though the prosecution in this case have indicated that they will not push for that.
The charge alleges that between November 2009 and 27 May 2010, when Manning was arrested at a military base outside Baghdad, he “knowingly gave intelligence to the enemy through indirect means”. In court deliberations, it has been further clarified that the charge refers to the transmitting of “classified documents to the enemy through the WikiLeaks website”.
The US government has added in later legal debate that the “enemy” to which it is referring is al-Qaida and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as a terrorist group whose identity has not been made public.
The allegations relate to the passing of hundreds of thousands of US state secrets, including embassy cables from around the world and war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan, that caused a worldwide sensation when they were published by WikiLeaks via several international news organisations led by the Guardian.
Next week the soldier and his defence team will be back in military court in Fort Meade, Maryland, in the latest of a succession of pre-trial hearings to hammer out the terms of the eventual court martial. Previous engagements have led to sparky interactions between Coombs and the army prosecutors seeking to condemn Manning possibly to spending the rest of his life in military custody.
The most significant discussion at next week’s proceedings will revolve around the precise legal definition of what “aiding the enemy” means – specifically its allegation that Manning “knowingly gave intelligence to the enemy”. The judge presiding over Manning’s trial, Colonel Denise Lind, has ruled that the soldier must have had “actual knowlege” that he was giving intelligence to enemy for the charge to be proven.
Coombs will next week attempt to gain further clarification that would raise the legal bar much higher. In his motion he argues that it is a truism in the age of the internet, any posted material is potentially accessible to anybody.
To accuse Manning of having aided the enemy by transmitting intelligence to WikiLeaks that could then be accessed by al-Qaida would remove any sense of him “knowingly” doing so. He writes that this would “render the ‘actual knowledge’ element utterly toothless in all internet-intelligence
Coombs highlights an apparent absurdity in the way the law is being applied. In cases where terrorist suspects are brought before military commissions, such as those at Guantanamo, and accused of the very same charge as Manning, the military prosecutors have to prove that the defendant “knowingly and intentionally” aided the enemy. Yet in the case of a US soldier, intentionality is not mentioned.
Find this story at 12 July 2012
Ed Pilkington in New York
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 12 July 2012 17.36 BST
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
Bradley Manning lawyers accuse prosecutors of misleading judge
25 juni 2012
In a motion ahead of Monday’s pre-trial hearing, civilian lawyer says prosecutors are still denying defence access to documents
Bradley Manning’s lawyers say the prosecution team is keeping important documents from them. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP
The US government is deliberately attempting to prevent Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the massive WikiLeaks trove of state secrets, from receiving a fair trial, the soldier’s lawyer alleges in new court documents.
David Coombs, Manning’s civilian lawyer, has made his strongest accusations yet about the conduct of the military prosecutors. In motions filed with the military court ahead of a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, on Monday, he goes so far as to accuse the government in essence of lying to the court.
Coombs charges the prosecutors with making “an outright misrepresentation” to the court over evidence the defence has been trying for months to gain access to through disclosure.
The dispute relates to an investigation by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, Oncix, into the damage caused by the WikiLeaks disclosures of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents.
Reports by the Associated Press, Reuters and other news outlets have suggested that official inquiries into the impact of WikiLeaks concluded that the leaks caused some “pockets” of short-term damage around the world, but that generally its impact had been embarrassing rather than harmful.
Such a finding could prove invaluable to the defence in fighting some of the charges facing Manning or, should he be found guilty, reducing his sentence.
Yet Coombs says the army prosecutors have consistently kept him, and the court, in the dark, thwarting his legal rights to see the evidence.
“It was abundantly clear that Oncix had some form of inquiry into the harm from the leaks – but the government switched definitions around arbitrarily so as to avoid disclosing this discovery to the defence.”
On 21 March, the prosecutors told the court that “Oncix has not produced any interim or final damage assessment” into WikiLeaks.
Coombs alleges that this statement was inaccurate – and the government knew it to be inaccurate at the time it made it.
“The defense submits [this] was an outright misrepresentation,” he writes.
On 20 April, the government told the court that “Oncix does not have any forensic results or investigative files”. Yet a week before that, the prosecutors had handed to the defence documents that clearly showed Oncix had begun to investigate WikiLeaks almost 18 months previously.
“Oncix was collecting information from various agencies in late 2010 to assess what damage, if any, was occasioned by the leaks. So how could it be that Oncix neither had an investigation nor a damage assessment?” Coombs writes.
The alleged efforts by the US government to avoid fulfilling its obligations to hand over evidence, Coombs says, has had the effect of rendering it impossible for the defence to prepare for the trial which is scheduled to begin in September.
Without access to the information, they cannot identify witnesses, develop questions for those witnesses, prepare a cross-examination strategy and so on.
Find this story at 24 June 2012
Ed Pilkington in New York
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 24 June 2012 14.19 BST
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
Bradley Manning lawyer in struggle to have government documents released
4 juni 2012
US government withholding 250,000 pages of damage assessment reports relating to WikiLeaks transmission
Bradley Manning is charged with 22 counts connected to the largest leak of state secrets in US history. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
The US government is in possession of 250,000 pages of documents relating to the transmission of state secrets to whistleblower website WikiLeaks, which it is refusing to disclose to defence lawyers representing the alleged source of the leaks, Bradley Manning.
Manning’s civilian lawyer, David Coombs, has lodged a motion with the military court that is hearing the court-martial of the US soldier. Coombs writes in the motion that the government has revealed to him in a throwaway footnote that there are 250,000 pages in its possession that relate to Manning, WikiLeaks and secret official assessments of the damage that the massive leak caused to US interests around the world.
Yet none of these pages have been made available to the defence. “If so, this is very disconcerting to the defence,” Coombs says.
Manning, an intelligence analyst who was working outside Baghdad when he was arrested two years ago, is charged with 22 counts connected to the largest leak of state secrets in US history.
In the motion, published in redacted form on his website, Coombs renews his long-standing efforts to compel the US government to hand over information that could prove crucial in preparing Manning’s defence.
He accuses the army of continuing to resist its legal obligations to disclose anything that could help Manning prove his innocence or achieve a lighter sentence.
The motion is one of several defence motions that have been submitted to the court and that will be the subject of a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade in Maryland. Manning himself is likely to attend the hearing, which comes three months before a full trial, which is scheduled for 21 September.
The language of Coombs’s legal submission suggests that the lawyer, who himself has a military background, is growing increasingly frustrated by the obfuscations and alleged sleights of hand played by the prosecution.
In recent motions, the lawyer has accused the US government of preventing Manning from having a fair trial.
Coombs paints an almost Kafkaesque world in which the military authorities play word games in order to keep deflecting his requests for disclosure.
Sometimes the government says that the defense is being “too narrow” in its requests, at other times “too broad”.
Coombs comments sarcastically: “The defence believes that no defence discovery request would ever be ‘just right’ to satisfy Goldilocks.”
When the defence asked to see “damage assessments” or “investigations” that the government had carried out into the likely impact of WikiLeaks, he was told none existed.
After much effort was expended, Coombs managed to get the government to admit that what he should have asked for – according to its vocabulary – was “working papers”.
“By morphing, distorting and constantly changing definitions, the government is trying to ‘define’ itself out of producing relevant discovery,” Coombs complains. “It cannot be permitted to do this.”
Ed Pilkington in New York
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 3 June 2012 21.10 BST
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