Chelsea ManningCommunityThe Dissenter

Government: Bradley Manning ‘Dumped Information on the Internet into the Hands of the Enemy’

The government gave its opening statement in the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier who has confessed to disclosing information to WikiLeaks.

Cpt. Joe Morrow, a military prosecutor, methodically moved through a slide show that he produced for the opening statement. It had not been shown to the defense before this morning so the defense took exception to the fact that it was making claims about a 2009 “Most Wanted” list posted by WikiLeaks, specifically to suggest that Manning was taking direction from WikiLeaks.

The judge heard the objections and decided she would not have the government take it out. The evidence was not being admitted by the court yet and she would be able to disregard evidence if it was not authenticated properly. She said, “I can unring the bell should that need be.”

Morrow began by putting up this statement from the chat logs between Manning and government informant Adrian Lamo, who turned Manning into federal authorities: “If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8 months, what would you do?”

He declared, “This is not a case about a government official” making discreet disclosures. It is a case about a soldier who “literally dumped” information on the Internet “into the hands of the enemy.” It is a case about “what happens when arrogance meets access to information.”

Morrow added that Manning’s training repeatedly had warned him of the “enemies’ use of the Internet writ large.” He had conducted research that warned him of the “enemies’ use of WikiLeaks.” He knew the dangers of “unauthorized disclosure to an organization like WikiLeaks and he ignored that evidence.”

Manning violated superior officers and engaged in an act to the “aid of our adversaries.” He used his military training to “gain notoriety.” He “knew the consequences of his actions and disregarded that for self-interest.

Morrow proceeded to argue that he had “systematically and indiscriminately harvested” over 700,000 records to “advocate for random openness without any appropriate limits.” He attempted to hide what he was doing to others by using tools when packaging, encrypting and transmitting information that would make it hard for him to be caught.

He abused his access “by searching for classified information with no logical nexus to what he was doing in Iraq.” He did not discriminate. He was interested in gathering information in bulk and Manning made “massive downloads.” The documents were not pulled in “onesies or twosies.”

Manning, the military prosecutor argued, knew there was a “great value to our adversaries and in particular our enemies.”

Morrow revealed a new aspect of the case against Manning, namely that they believed because Manning had accessed an Army intelligence report on the “threat” posed by WikiLeaks he would have known that WikiLeaks was valuable to the nation’s enemies. It is an argument that essentially uses his decision to access the report against him. (Keep in mind the government maintains he should never have read this report.)

The government argued that a “pressassociation” account on Jabber was used by WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange himself and seemingly suggested that Manning had been “enlisted” to “help” WikiLeaks obtain copies of documents on the “Most Wanted” list (something the defense heavily disputed prior to Morrow’s opening argument).

Though no proof has been presented that Assange was actually using the “pressassociation” account, the government appears prepared to go forward and argue this as fact during the trial.

Also, the government claimed that chat logs showed Manning had “enlisted Assange’s help in figuring out a way to browse” the secret network with information “anonymously.” The government also suggested that Manning had helped WikiLeaks edit the “Collateral Murder” video.

The government’s argument went witness by witness and through each set of documents chronologically detailing all that the government plans to show over the course of the trial. It was a broad overview of what can be expected.

As stated in a previous pretrial hearing, Morrow said that enemies had “reviewed the information provided by Pfc. Manning,” meaning they accessed it because it was available online. And, during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, digital media had been collected with copies of State Department cables and the entire cache of Afghanistan War Logs.

The information had ended up on the digital media because Bin Laden asked for the reports from another member of al Qaeda, according to Morrow.

Morrow ended by arguing, “Manning knew the dangers of uanuthorized disclosure to an organization like WikiLeaks and he ignored that evidence.”

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."