As the trial of U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning entered its second week, more details were revealed about the information released to WikiLeaks.
Manning, 25, is on trial for releasing more than 700,000 battlefield reports, diplomatic cables and video clips he accessed while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad. The U.S. government has filed a laundry list of charges against Manning — including the charge of “aiding the enemy” in violation of the Espionage Act.
Manning has taken responsibility for releasing the documents, but now the prosecution has to prove he knew the leak would hurt national security. On Tuesday, the prosecution presented evidence and witnesses that backed up this claim, according to The Guardian newspaper.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Martin Nehring, a classification expert who submitted written testimony, said that upon reviewing the information Manning released, he discovered that it included techniques for neutralizing improvised explosives, names of enemy targets, names of criminal suspects and troop movements, according to The Guardian.
Navy Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Hoskins also reviewed the documents and found potentially damaging information, including codewords, tactics and techniques for responding to roadside bombings, weapon capabilities, and assistance the U.S. military had received in tracking down suspects from foreign nationals, The Guardian reported.
On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that prosecutors planned to introduce evidence that Manning also leaked information from more than 700 Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs. The documents reportedly included information regarding the location of al-Qaida leaders.
Manning insists that his decision to release the Gitmo briefs was not intended to breach intelligence or national security, but to educate the public and document history accurately, according to the Associated Press.
As Mint Press News previously reported, arguably one of the most significant documents Manning released included a video referred to as “Collateral Murder.” The video shows the slaying of two Reuters journalists and bystanders by American soldiers in a U.S. Apache helicopter. Manning said he released the video because he was concerned about the “lack of concern for human life” and lack of “concern for injured children at the scene.”
If convicted, Manning faces life in prison for the aiding-the-enemy charge alone. In February, Manning pleaded guilty to 10 lesser charges for which he will serve about 20 years.
He added that he hoped the release of the information to WikiLeaks “might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counterterrorism while ignoring the situation of the people we engaged with every day.”
Trained computer expert
This most recent testimony comes after the prosecution called witnesses last week to demonstrate Manning’s sophisticated computer training.
Jihrleah Showman, an Army specialist who was Manning’s team leader, testified that Manning was known among his fellow soldiers as someone who could easily get around secret computer passwords to retrieve sensitive information.
“He indicated to me he was very fluent in computers, that he spoke their language, and that there was nothing he could not do on a computer,” she said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Manning’s unit supervisor, retired Sgt. 1st Class Brian Madrid, also testified last week that Manning knew what he was doing was wrong. Madrid said he trained Manning to become a 35 Fox, which is an Army intelligence analyst who has the security clearance to obtain data from secret military bases. He said he had to discipline Manning and have him undergo “corrective training” after Manning inappropriately used the term “top secret” in a video he posted on YouTube for family and friends, according to The Guardian.
As part of the disciplinary action, Manning had to present a PowerPoint to his fellow soldiers about the dangers of releasing information. According to Madrid, Manning said in his presentation that soldiers should “use common sense, we have many enemies and have a free and open society.”
Restricted defense of a whistleblower
According to Raw Story, the court has barred Manning’s defense team the ability to introduce information suggesting the damage caused by the leak was little to non-existent. This decision has dampened the defense team’s ability to “challenge the government’s unverified assertion that [Manning] harmed national security.”
“He wasn’t selecting information because it was wanted by WikiLeaks,” Manning’s lawyer David E. Coombs said. “He wasn’t selecting information because of some 2009 most wanted list. He was selecting information because he believed that this information needed to be public. At the time that he released the information he was concentrating on what the American public would think about that information, not whether or not the enemy would get access to it, and he had absolutely no actual knowledge of whether the enemy would gain access to it. Young, naive, but good-intentioned.”
Manning is reportedly not allowed to explain during the trial why he decided to leak the information, even though his reasoning is public knowledge. Manning will only be permitted to explain his actions when he is sentenced, which is expected to happen at the end of the summer.
Full transcripts from Bradley Manning’s trial are available on the the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s website: https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/bradley-manning-transcripts