Witness links Army private to secrets seen on WikiLeaks
Sunday, December 18, 2011
FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — A computer-crimes investigator testified Sunday he found more than 10,000 diplomatic cables and other sensitive information on the work computer of the Army private charged with spilling a mountain of secrets to WikiLeaks.
Moreover, Special Agent David Shaver told a military hearing he discovered evidence that someone had used the computer to streamline the downloading of the cables with the apparent aim of “moving them out.”
It was the government’s first hard evidence linking Pfc. Bradley Manning with the wealth of confidential government information that showed up on WikiLeaks: battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, diplomatic communications, a military video showing a U.S. helicopter attack that killed 11 men, and more.
Shaver’s appearance capped the third day of a hearing that will determine whether Manning will be court-martialed on 22 charges, including aiding the enemy. The testimony was potentially the most damaging so far.
Shaver said the material he found at the intelligence analyst’s workstation in Iraq was all linked to the username bradley.manning or Manning’s user profile.
He said he examined two computers that were assigned to Manning while he was working in Baghdad in 2009 and 2010.
The other machine, he said, contained evidence that someone had conducted more than 100 searches using the keywords “WikiLeaks” and “Julian Assange,” the organization’s leader.
Those terms seemed “out of place” on a computer that was used for analyzing intelligence about Iraq, said Shaver, who is to be cross examined by Manning’s defense Monday.
Shaver told the hearing that in addition to the cables, he found assessments of Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainees and several versions of the 2007 helicopter attack video on Manning’s computer.
Manning’s lawyers have neither acknowledged nor denied that the intelligence analyst was behind the leaks.
Instead, they have pressed the government to explain why Manning remained entrusted with access to highly sensitive information after showing hostile behavior to those around him. A supervisor who might have shed light on that question Sunday refused to testify.
Manning, a 24-year-old native of Crescent, Okla., could face life in prison if convicted.
In camouflaged fatigues and dark rimmed-glasses, he sat mostly forward for the third straight day, appearing calm, listening intently to the witnesses and occasionally writing on paper in front of him. He didn’t speak Sunday except for the few occasions he leaned over to consult with his civilian defense attorney, David Coombs, each time first switching off the defense table microphone for privacy.
Manning’s defense sought to build on its case that his supervisors on the 2nd Brigade Combat Team should have seen enough red flags to suspend or revoke his access to secret information months before the leaks.
Capt. Casey Fulton, an Army intelligence officer, testified Sunday it was impossible to supervise analysts such as Manning constantly. “You have to trust that they’ll safeguard the material the way that they’ve been taught,” she said.
The defense has emphasized what it regards as a failure by Manning’s closest supervisor, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Adkins, to suspend the intelligence security clearance after at least two fits of rage by the private during which he overturned furniture.
Adkins refused to testify Sunday, invoking his right against self-incrimination, when summoned by the government.
Other testimony revealed that Manning was sometimes angry and distant with others from his unit. The defense has said that Manning, who is gay, was bullied by fellow soldiers. Manning’s defense team says he told Adkins he suffered from gender-identity disorder — the belief that he was born the wrong sex.
Manning is accused of illegally leaking a trove of secret information that surfaced on the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. The breach rattled U.S. foreign relations and, according to the government, imperiled valuable military and diplomatic sources. Defense attorneys argue the leaked material did little or no damage to U.S. interests.