Excerpts from the prosecution’s opening statement in the court martial of PFC Bradley Manning

Reporter’s note: I attended the first week (June 3 – 5, 2013) of the trial of United States v. PFC Bradley Manning in Fort Meade, Maryland. I observed the hearing from a closed-circuit broadcast in an overflow trailer near the courthouse on Monday, June 3, and attended the hearing inside the court room on Tuesday, June 4 and Wednesday, June 5. I am making available my notes (with some omissions and minimal edits) and summaries of the court martial proceedings due to the limited public access to official transcripts and court documents in the Manning case.

Excerpts from the prosecution’s opening statement in United States v. PFC Bradley E. Manning. The opening statement was presented by Capt. Joe Morrow on June 3, 2013 at Fort Meade, Maryland: 

“If you have unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day, 7 days a week for 8 plus months, what would you do?” – bradass87 (PFC Bradley Manning’s chat username) on May 21, 2010.

“This is not a case about an accidental spill of classified information. This is not a case about a few documents left in a barrack…This is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of documents from classified databases and then literally dumped that information on to the Internet and into the hands of the enemy – material, he knew based on his training and experience, could put the lives and welfare of his fellow soldiers at risk. This is a case about what happens when arrogance meets access to sensitive information.”

“PFC Manning systematically and indiscriminately harvested more than 700,000 government records from various databases and transmitted the information to random opportunists without any appropriate limits.”

“The evidence will show that PFC Manning used his military training to gain the notoriety he craved.”

Morrow said that less than 2 weeks after starting work at the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in Iraq, Manning began to copy classified information to CDs. Manning is accused of moving the CDs containing classified information to his housing unit where he would “package” the information and transmit the information using tools to cover his tracks.

“At every step in the process, PFC Manning attempted to hide what he was doing from others…The evidence will show that PFC Manning often took painstaking steps to erase any evidence of what he had done through his computers.”

The prosecution pointed out the Manning had “wiped” his personal computer of all data on Jan. 25, 2010 during his R&R in the Washington, D.C. area.

Morrow told the judge that Manning repeatedly used SIPRNet – the government’s secret computer network –  to search for information that had “no logical nexus to the work he was supposed to be doing in Iraq.”

“The evidence will also show that PFC Manning did not discriminate with gathering documents. Much of the evidence will show that his interest was in gathering information in bulk…These were massive, massive downloads.”

“The evidence will show that this massive amount of information has great value to our adversaries and our enemies.”

Morrow listed the key evidence that will be presented by the prosecution:

  • SIPRNet computers
  • Intelink logs (that capture activities on the SIPRNet and acts like a Google search engine on SIPRNet)
  • PFC Manning’s personal computer – an Apple laptop – recovered from Manning’s housing unit in FOB Hammer, Iraq
  • An external hard disk drive and an SD card (portable memory devices used for cameras) collected from PFC Manning’s aunt’s house in Potomac, Maryland
  • Work computer belonging to Jason Katz, a Department of Energy employee, recovered from the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York
  • CENTCOM (Central Command) SIPRNet logs
  • Supply annex NIPRnet computer used by PFC Manning during the end of his deployment
  • Non-disclosure agreements signed by PFC Manning, including one signed on Sept. 17, 2008
  • WikiLeaks “Most Wanted” list from 2009
  • PFC Manning’s primary SIPRNet computer in Iraq identified as “dot 22”
  • PFC Manning’s secondary SIPRNet computer in Iraq identified as “dot 40”
  • Chat logs between PFC Manning (under the username bradass87) and Julian Assange (under the username “pressassociation”)
  • Chat logs between PFC Manning and Adrian Lamo

Some of the prosecution’s witnesses will include:

  • Special Agent David Shaver, forensic examiner for the Army Computer Crimes Investigative Unit
  • Mr. Johnson, forensic examiner who examined Manning’s personal laptop and the external hard drive
  • Special Agent Williamson, who examined Manning’s computer at the supply annex at FOB Hammer
  • Mr. Moul, a retired all-source intelligence analyst who taught Manning at AIT on handling classified materials and the enemies’ use of the Internet
  • Mr. Lewis, a Defense Department counter-intelligence expert with 30 years of experience, will testify that there is a market for classified government information
  • Manning’s colleagues from the S2 section will testify on Manning’s work, skill-sets, and duties of an all-source intelligence analyst
  • Officials from the Defense Department, State Department, and other government organizations on the “nature and content” of the information Manning is charged with leaking

Morrow presented a brief timeline of Manning’s activities during his deployment to Iraq from November of 2009 through May 2010:

  • Manning was deployed to Ira q in late October 2009 or early November 2009.
  • Manning began working at the SCIF in mid-November 2009.
  • “In late November 2009, less than two weeks after beginning work, PFC Manning began helping WikiLeaks.”
  • One of the first transmission made by PFC Manning was a video of a U.S. airstrike that killed 100 to 150 civilians – including many women and children – in the village of Granai, Afghanistan. The a forensic duplicate of the video file – BE22PAX.zip – was found on the work computer of Jason Katz, a Department of Energy employee at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York on Dec. 15, 2009.
  • WikiLeaks announced on Twitter on Jan. 8, 2010 that it had a copy of an encrypted video of the Granai airstrike.
  • Manning began to download the entire Combined Information and Data Network Exchange (CIDNE-I) Iraq and Afghanistan (CIDNE-A) databases in early January 2010. The CIDNE-Iraq file was packaged on Jan. 5, 2010; and the CIDNE-Afghanistan file was packaged on Jan. 8, 2010.
  • Manning left Iraq for a mid-tour leave from Jan. 21, 2010 – Feb. 1, 2010.
  • Manning arrived in the Washington, D.C. area on Jan. 24, 2010. On Jan. 25, 2010, Manning “cleared” his computer. “He wiped his computer of all the data…essentially no information on the personal computer can be recovered prior to Jan. 25, 2010.”
  • Manning left D.C. for Boston on Jan. 26, 2010. While in Boston on Jan. 31, 2010, Manning cleared his computer of all the data in the unallocated or “free” space. “That means that no data can be recovered from the deleted space prior to Jan. 31, 2010.”
  • Upon his return to Iraq in early February, Manning began collecting information on Iceland. He found the diplomatic cable Reykjavik13 on Feb. 15, 2010.
  • Around mid-February, Manning also copied the July 12, 2007 Apache video to his personal computer. “When the Apache video – when the 12 July video was initially released by WikiLeaks, it was released as an edited version, and the evidence will show that PFC Manning was part of this editing process.”
  • Manning began downloading the Joint Task Force Guantanamo detainee assessment database on March 5, 2010. On March 7, 2010, Manning downloaded the entire database – more than 750 records. Manning asked Julian Assange via chat how valuable those detainee assessment memos are.
  • The prosecution alleged that in March 2010, Manning also tried to devise a way for Julian Assange to browse the government’s secret network – SIPRNet – anonymously through “hash cracking” or reverse-engineering passwords.
  • In late March and early April of 2010, Manning used WGet to “systematically harvest” 250,000 plus State Department diplomatic cables. The downloads took place over a 10-day period, averaging about 25,000 cables per day or more than 1,000 cables per hour downloaded. WikiLeaks released a total of 251,287 cables. The prosecution maintained that free source programs such as WGet are prohibited under the “acceptable use policy” signed by every service member who has access to a government information system.
  • On April 10, 2010, Manning downloaded the entire AR-15-6 “informal investigation” records of the Granai airstrike.
  • Manning was transferred to the supply annex from the SCIF in early May 2010. On May 7, 2010, WikiLeaks published a tweet asking for a list of as many .mil email addresses as possible. Manning extracted the email addresses and personal information of more than 74,000 service members in Iraq, including their names, email addresses, rank, and positions on May 11, 2010. Prosecution witnesses will testify that by disclosing this type of personal information, Manning was providing foreign intelligence services with “essentially a number book” and placing U.S. service members at risk of spearphishing, using emails to obtain personal financial information from individuals.

“The evidence will show that the accused knowingly gave intelligence to the enemy.”

PFC Manning’s training and research warned him repeatedly of the enemy’s use of WikiLeaks.

“Enemies of the United States reviewed information provided by PFC Manning. You will hear evidence that during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, government officials collected several items of digital media. On one of these items of digital media was the entire CIDNE Afghanistan database released by WikiLeaks as well as Department of State information.”

“Osama bin Laden asks for, and receives, CIDNE Afghanistan reports.”

“PFC Manning knew the dangers of unauthorized disclosure to an organization like WikiLeaks and he ignored those dangers.”



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4 Comments on “Excerpts from the prosecution’s opening statement in the court martial of PFC Bradley Manning

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