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Acceptable Use Policy Which Bradley Manning Didn’t Sign Used By Prosecutors Against Him

Courtroom sketch of Major Ashden Fein and other prosecutors at Ft. Meade by Clark Stoeckley

During trial proceedings for Pfc. Bradley Manning on Thursday, his defense objected to the use of a sample Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) he had not signed, which the prosecution wanted to use to elicit testimony on whether Manning exceeded his authorized access on his government computer.

It was one of the more contentious moments of the trial so far. At one point, defense attorney David Coombs was standing to the side of the lectern in the courtroom while two military prosecutors, Cpt. Hunter Whyte and Maj. Ashden Fein, stood behind the lectern trying to make their case to the judge about the legitimacy of this sample AUP.

Coombs stated in military court at Fort Meade that the defense was objecting because three of the counts Manning faces “rise and fall” on whether he violated the AUP.

He is accused of “knowingly” exceeding “his authorized access on a Secret Internet Protocol Router network (SIPRNet) computer” in Specification 2 and Specification 3 to “obtain information” that was classified. These are both alleged violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). (Note: Specifications are like counts.)

It also could apparently be a factor in proving another specification that alleges Manning had “unauthorized possession of information relating to the national defense”—a video file that prosecutors claim was in a Farah investigation folder on US Central Command, which Manning willfully communicated without authorization in violation of the Espionage Act.

The sample AUP did make it into evidence for identification purposes, but, based off the objections of the judge, it is unclear how much weight it will be given, if any. [cont’d.]

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

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