Col. Morris Davis: GITMO Files could not harm the U.S., info was publicly available: trial report, day 16
By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. July 9, 2013.
Col. Morris Davis (ret.), the former Guantanamo Bay chief prosecutor whom the defense qualified as an expert yesterday, testified about the Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) that Bradley Manning released and that WikiLeaks published as the GITMO Files.
In preparation for this case, Col. Davis reviewed the DABs alongside open-source information, including government-released Assessment Review Board (ARB) and Combatant Status Review Board (CSRT) documents, movies such as The Road to Guantanamo, articles, legal litigation, books, and interviews with the detainees.
Col. Davis found almost all of the significant information in the DABs elsewhere, testifying that without the DAB he could construct a nearly verbatim copy based solely on the open-source information. Therefore, he doesn’t see how their release could the harm the United States. He said that more complete information was released by the Pentagon itself, and if the enemy wanted a strategic or tactical advantage, the DABs were not the documents to look at.
Other than causing embarrassment to the country that it was released,” he said, “I don’t see the enemy could gain anything of value from reading the detainee assessment.”
This testimony is important for the Espionage Act charges, the 18 U.S.C 793(e) offenses, in which the government claims Manning released documents that he had “reason to believe … could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.”
As a prosecutor, Col. Davis and others referred to the DABs dismissively as “baseball cards,” as they only included biographical data. The government challenged the analogy, saying the DABs included detainees’ terrorist-organization affiliations and other important information. But Col. Davis replied that the analogy was merely intended to connote the DABs’ minimal value.
Were the Guantanamo Files “closely held”?
Whether these DABs were “closely held” is another key point of contention for the Espionage Act charges, in which the government claims Manning released “information relating to the national defense.” Prosecutors must prove the DABs were closely held in order to meet that threshold. The defense argued that because so much of the information was publicly available before the release, including information made available by the government, the judge cannot consider them to be closely held.
But prosecutors said that under military justice, the judge should be allowed to consider only government-released information – i.e., none of the movies, books, or articles, and only the ARBs and CSRTs – when determining whether documents were closely held.
The defense countered that since prosecutors used the nongovernmental publicly released information in their cross-examination, it should be considered under a military exception.
The government claimed that a D.C. circuit ruling issued this morning in U.S. vs. Stephen Kim is directly relevant to this issue, but hasn’t yet provided it to the court.
Defense security expert reviews War Logs
Cassius Hall, defense security expert and former intelligence analyst, testified about Significant Action reports (SigActs) and how Manning would have used them in his work. The defense qualified Hall as an expert on intelligence analysts and handling of classified information.
Hall examined the 102 charged SigActs in this case and found related information in open sources (e.g., news reports) for 62 of them.
Update: 2nd security expert reviews State Department Cables
Similarly, the defense’s other security expert, Charles Ganiel, reviewed the State Department cables released by WikiLeaks as Cablegate, drawing on his nearly 28 years of military experience as a security specialist. He compared the 125 charged cables with open source material, and found that all but 2 of them had corresponding data. He felt generally that “lot of information was already in the public domain.”
The court is now in recess for the night, so the government can examine the reviewed cables, in lieu of a classified session. Ganiel will return to the stand tomorrow. Next on the witness list are one stipulated witness and Harvard professor Yochai Benkler.