Manning supervisor undercuts aspect of aiding the enemy charge: trial report, day 3

On day 3 of Bradley Manning’s court martial, one of his supervisors didn’t mention WikiLeaks when asked about specific websites the military warned that the enemy might visit. Bradley’s fellow soldiers relayed that Iraq War Log documents didn’t reveal source names and that an Excel spreadsheet he created was done for intelligence work, not for WikiLeaks. Read reports from day 1 and day 2.

By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. June 5, 2013.

Pfc. Bradley Manning at Ft. Meade, MD. (Photo credit: Patrick Semansky, AP)

Pfc. Bradley Manning at Ft. Meade, MD. (Photo credit: Patrick Semansky, AP)

Captain Casey Fulton testified at the end of today’s Bradley Manning’s trial proceedings that there were no specific websites, other than social media sites, that intelligence analysts knew that America’s enemies visited. Capt. Fulton deployed to Iraq with Bradley in November 2009 and was in charge of Bradley’s intelligence section.

The government’s aiding the-enemy charge relies on the claim that Bradley knew that giving intelligence to WikiLeaks meant giving it to Al Qaeda. Prosecutors have cited several times this Army Counterintelligence Special Report, which asks,

Will the Web site be used by FISS, foreign military services, foreign insurgents, or terrorist groups to collect sensitive or classified US Army information posted to the Web site?

But when defense lawyer David Coombs asked Capt. Fulton which websites the enemy was known to visit gathering intelligence, she merely said that it was general knowledge that the enemy goes to “all sorts” of websites. Pressed to name something specific, Capt. Fulton said that they were briefed on social media sites like Facebook, where people generally post lots of personal information, and Google and Google Maps. Once more Coombs asked if there were any specific websites that she and her fellow analysts had “actual knowledge” that the enemy visited, and Capt. Fulton said no. 

Intelligence work for Army, not WikiLeaks

She also provided more information on an Excel spreadsheet that Bradley created as an analyst in Baghdad, which included all of the Significant Activities (SigActs) later released in the Iraq War Logs. The government has referred to this spreadsheet as an indication that Bradley was culling information and preparing it to be sent to WikiLeaks. But Capt. Fulton said that the spreadsheet was used for an intelligence analyst assignment: she had asked him to compile all SigActs from the entire Iraq War to discern any patterns and increases or decreases in violence throughout the war. Bradley was simply doing his job. 

That testimony corroborates what we heard from other witnesses today. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Hondo Hack and Warrant Officer Kyle Balonek testified to Bradley’s exceptional organizational abilities and impressive work for such an inexperienced analyst.

CW3 Hack rarely saw Bradley since they had opposite work shifts, so he looked into the shared drive where analysts posted reports and files they were researching. He called Bradley’s folder perhaps the most organized he’d ever seen, providing far more detail than more experienced analysts.

That revelation came after government questioning that attempted to paint Bradley as neglectful of his duties, presenting an email from him to CW3 Hack providing the name of a high-value target several months after he started his work. Prosecutors admitted when prompted by Judge Denise Lind that they were trying to show a dereliction of duty, and Coombs recalled their effort to characterize him as working for WikiLeaks when he should have been doing his job.

But CW3 Hack said he was frustrated with the entire intelligence analyst squad, and didn’t expect Bradley, as a junior analyst, to provide “actionable” information and in fact expected more from his more senior colleagues.

War Log reports didn’t reveal source names

CW Balonek was one of those more experienced analysts, who worked in Bradley’s division. He testified about keeping classified information secret, since he witnessed Bradley’s signing of the Non-Disclosure Agreement vowing to protect sensitive documents. He told government lawyers that it wasn’t common practice for those in Iraq to look at Afghanistan SigActs or other files, but he told the defense that there wasn’t any provision that he knew of prohibiting it. 

He gave more insight into what those SigActs or HUMINT (Human Intelligence) files contained. The SigActs typically provided the 5 Ws: who, what, when, where, and why an incident occurred, documenting basic information about incidents like IED attacks. Both types of files didn’t refer U.S. sources by name—HUMINT reports cited sources by number, and SigActs would protect the source from identification as well. SigActs have some names, but those are witnesses, for example, to violent incidents, and not reliable sources with exact information. 

Supervisor Showman’s conversations with Bradley 

Specialist Jihrleah Showman was Bradley’s team leader at Ft. Drum before he deployed to Iraq, interacting with him daily. She testified with slight but visible disdain about their personal conversations, which she said typically involved “his topic of choosing,” and that he talked about social interests including “martini parties” in the D.C. area, having friends with influence in the Pentagon, and his interest in shopping.

She also said he liked to talk about politics, and that he would often debate with others about broad U.S. policy and that she found him “very political” and on the “extreme Democratic side,” responding affirmatively to Coombs’s phrasing.

When she oversaw him at Ft. Drum, most soldiers uploaded video games, movies, and music to their computers, which weren’t explicitly authorized but which she believed her superiors knew about. Bradley was so “fluent” with computers, she said, that she asked him to install the military chat client mIRC to her computer, and that he once mentioned that military portals’ passwords “weren’t complicated” and that he could always get through them.

Because the government moved through its witnesses so quickly, court is in recess for the week and will resume Monday, June 10.

9 thoughts on “Manning supervisor undercuts aspect of aiding the enemy charge: trial report, day 3

  1. I was in the courtroom today from 1:30 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. and I noted that Specialist Snowman, when questioned by the defense, answered that Bradley Manning had no expertise in intelligence and that his skill was with computers. He was inexperienced and not capable of that type of analysis, and she in no way relied on him in that field. The defense lawyer brought important information to light when questioning Hack and Snowman, and I think and hope this strengthens the case for Bradley going forward.

  2. The UCMJ definition of “whistleblower” PREVENTS an enlistee from going outside the chain of command or formal military organization channels to report misconduct, corruption or violation of laws.

    The UCMJ rules PROSCRIBE every enlistee from obeying an illegal order.

    The USC definition of “whistleblower” REQUIRES a member (employee) of the organization (employer) to go outside of the formal employer organization channels to report the misconduct.

    According to Ethan McCord and other US Army veterans, the US Army trains combat soldiers how to EVADE the Geneva Conventions and the local Rules of Engagement, for example, by exploiting technical loopholes created by literal interpretations of the letter of the laws that violate the spirit of the laws.

    The US Army trains intel analysts to “See something, Say nothing” because saying anything is a violation of their military Non-Disclosure Agreements.

    In this Alice-in-Wonderland, topsy-turvy, Catch-22, damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation, is it any wonder that so many military veterans suffer mental disorders at great continuing harm to the veterans and great continuing cost to the taxpayers?

  3. Write letters of solidarity to Private Bradley Manning

    In political prisoner cases, and Bradley’s is a classic case, it is important that the brother or sister know that people outside the walls have his or her back. We have Bradley’s back.

    *Write letters of solidarity to Bradley Manning while he is being tried. Bradley’s mailing address: Commander, HHC, USAG, Attn: PFC Bradley Manning, 239 Sheridan Avenue, Bldg. 417, JBM-HH, VA 22211. Bradley Manning cannot receive stamps or money in any form. Photos must be on copy paper. Along with “contraband,” “inflammatory material” is not allowed. Six page maximum. Mail sent to the above address is forwarded to Bradley.

    • I was at a “Diversity Fair” in Exeter UK recently where Amnesty had a stall. I asked them if they were supporting Bradley, pointing out that he is a “Prisoner of Conscience”. They seemed confused and not to know much about Bradley’s case. They said “Well, the American branch of Amnesty will be doing something about it”. I guess that means Amnesty is not bothered.

      • A formal representative of Amnesty International is attending and observing the court martial. Of course, we are always hoping for more.

  4. all great coverage and comments. Law reading tells me day 3 cross-examination answers prove he is not guilty of the worst charge of “aIDING THE ENEMY” knowingly or otherwise, he did his job better than the more experienced and all in house

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