Courtroom Cleared in WikiLeaks Hearing as Classified Materials Discussed

Dec 19, 2011 3:35pm

The fourth day of a pre-trial hearing for alleged WikiLeak source Bradley Manning began in Maryland today with testimony including technical descriptions of computer programs, secret discussions out of public view and questions about the Army private’s sexuality.

Manning is accused of giving military reports, Guantanamo Bay detainee assessments and diplomatic cables from U.S. embasssies to WikiLeaks.

The first witness at Monday’s Article 32 hearing at Ft. Meade was the Army investigator who conducted a forensic examination of  two work computers used by Manning during his deployment to Baghdad.

David Shaver, a special agent with the Army’s Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU), testified that an examination of the computer hard drives found evidence that Guantanamo Bay detainee assessments had been downloaded through the use of an unauthorized program known as WGet, which enables the quick download of large amounts of data. But because the four detainee assessments were found in “unallocated files,” or deleted files, there is no way to know who used WGet to download the files onto the computers.

Shaver testified that he did not know whether WGet was present on other secure computers at Manning’s workspace, to which defense attorneys pointed out that WGet can also be used for data mining, a key job for an intelligence analyst such as  Manning.

Shaver also said that State Department cables found on one of Manning’s computers did not match those released on the WikiLeaks website.  He speculated this was because the folder encasing the particular files was corrupted for the user, although he was unable to know when the corruption might have occurred.

Manning’s other computer was found to contain an additional 100,000-plus State Department cables among its deleted files, but there was  no way to know which computer-user profile had accessed the information.

At the request of prosecutors, a portion of Shaver’s testimony was closed to the media and general public so that classified materials could be discussed.  Although Manning’s defense team does not have a security clearance, it was allowed to be present under a non-disclosure agreement for the proceedings.  David Coombs, Manning’s lead defense counsel, noted an on-the-record objection to closing the session.

The Bradley Manning Support Network issued a statement expressing how it was “deeply troubled by the imposition of an unexplained media blackout without any avenue for redress.” 

The next witness was Manning’s former roommate during his deployment in Iraq, Army. Spc. Eric S. Baker, who testified that he did not consider Manning a friend. “I didn’t know too much about his feelings in the military, but I knew he probably planned on getting out,” he said.

Baker described Manning’s using a computer “quite often. Like, between chow times, and like, when I’d wake up in the middle of the night he’d be on the computer.”  Manning owned a personal Mac Book Pro, microphone, external hard drive and an iPod touch.

Baker said that he never saw what was on Manning’s screen nor used Manning’s personal computer himself.

Coombs asked Baker whether he was not a friend of Manning’s because of Manning’s homosexuality and asked him why he thought the Army wasn’t the place for Manning. “Did you think it was because he was gay?” he asked. “I have no idea,” Baker replied.

“Because the two of you really weren’t friends?” Coombs said.

“Yes, sir,” Baker said.

Also testifying today was Mark Johnson, a contractor for CCIU. who did the forensic imaging of Manning’s personal Mac Book Pro.  He said he was looking for “two specific things:  Internet chats with Adrian Lamo and classified information or government information.”

His search turned up the instant messaging software called Adium, which contained chat logs between Manning and Lamo.

Lamo, known for his high-profile hacking Yahoo and The New York Times websites, reported Manning’s claims of having leaked government documents to federal authorities.

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