Manning leaked 'sensitive names'

2013-06-12 10:01
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Fort Meade — The mountain of classified material US Army soldier Bradley Manning gave to the anti-secrecy organisation WikiLeaks revealed sensitive information about military operations and tactics, including code words and the name of at least one enemy target, according to evidence the government presented on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Manning has said he didn't believe the more than 700 000 battlefield reports, diplomatic cables and video clips he leaked while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad would hurt national security. Prosecutors want to convict him of aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence.

For the first time, prosecutors presented evidence that the disclosures compromised sensitive information in dozens of categories.

In one such statement, a classification expert, retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Martin Nehring, said his review of leaked Afghanistan and Iraq battlefield reports revealed techniques for neutralising improvised explosives, the name of an enemy target, the names of criminal suspects and troop movements.

The evidence also covered leaked material from the Army's investigation into a 2009 airstrike in Afghanistan's Farah province. The investigation concluded a bomb from a B-1 bomber killed 26 civilians, at least 78 Taliban fighters and five Afghan police officers. Local officials said the attack killed 140 villagers.

Manning has acknowledged sending WikiLeaks material from the Farah investigation, including several videos, although none were ever posted on the group's website.

Statement from aunt

On Tuesday, the defence elicited testimony that appeared to cripple government efforts to prove an espionage charge related to the Farah video. Manning has acknowledged sending the material to WikiLeaks sometime after late March 2010; the government alleges the transmission was in late November 2009. The disputed date became an issue before trial when prosecutors rejected Manning's offer to plead guilty to a reduced version of the charge, provided the date was changed.

Army computer crimes investigator David Shaver testified on cross-examination the only evidence of Manning obtaining any video associated with Farah was downloaded on 17 April 2010.

First Amendment lawyer James Goodale, author or Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles, said a Manning conviction on any one of eight espionage counts or a federal computer fraud charge would enable the government to charge civilians, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

"In Assange's case relative to Manning, they can treat each of them as co-conspirators and prosecute them," Goodale said in an interview.

Prosecutors also presented a statement from Manning's aunt Debra Van Alstyne, who talked about her interview with Army investigators in June 2010, shortly after Manning's arrest.

She said one of them asked how Manning felt about the Army.

Helicopter attack

"I knew that Brad was proud of his job and of being in the Army," Van Alstyne said in her statement.

She said an investigator collected a digital camera data card Manning had sent her that was found to contain some of the leaked Iraq battlefield reports and video of an Apache helicopter attack WikiLeaks had posted in which civilians were killed.

She said Manning called her after his arrest and asked if she had watched the helicopter video. She said he told her the video would be "big news" and that it would make a "big splash" in America.

Prosecutors began the day by presenting evidence Manning used his work computer to access a classified 2008 Army counterintelligence report about the possibility that WikiLeaks posed a national security threat. The evidence indicated Manning first accessed the report on 1 December 2009, about three weeks after he started work in Baghdad.

Read more on:    wikileaks  |  chelsea manning  |  julian assange  |  us  |  espionage

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