Chelsea ManningCommunityThe Dissenter

Government Declares Bradley Manning Wanted to Become ‘Famous’ & Was ‘Right Insider’ for WikiLeaks

Maj. Fein (right): a person who thought he was finally becoming famous? Image by C. Stoeckley.

The government began its closing argument in the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier being prosecuted for disclosing information revealing details on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and conduct of US diplomats.

The argument highlighted why the prosecutors believed Manning knew that the information he provided to WikiLeaks would be accessible to Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). It also featured the prosecutors’ views on why Manning chose to disclose information to WikiLeaks.

Maj. Ashden Fein opened the argument by suggesting that Manning deployed to Iraq “fully armed with the stark knowledge” of what would happen if classified information materials were compromised. Within weeks of arriving in Iraq, he began abusing the trust that had been given to him.

Manning was said to have “delivered documents” to WikiLeaks for “notoriety.”

“The only human Manning ever actually cared about was himself,” Fein declared.

The government suggested he was gleeful about disclosing the information and was not a “troubled, anguished, naïve or well-intentioned soldier.” He was “interested in making a name for himself.”

“The flag meant nothing to him,” and he was calculating and self-interested, Fein added.

To the charge of “aiding the enemy,” which Manning faces, Fein argued that Manning was “aware of how WikiLeaks operated and the type of information WikiLeaks sought. He “knew what he provided to WikiLeaks would make its way to the enemy because he knew the enemy used WikiLeaks as its source.”

Manning, the government claimed, understood how the US intelligence community considered WikiLeaks a threat to the UniteD states. Leak was part of the name of the organization, WikiLeaks, and yet he still chose to extract information from government systems and disclose it to the world anonymously.

Fein stated that Manning had “actual knowledge that enemies of the United States used the internet and WikiLeaks to gather information to be used against this country.”

To prove this claim, he highlighted how Manning had known the importance of protecting classified information and had retained training material that were cataloged on a personal hard drive.

The information included training on how the US Army and enemies “wage war.” He had a PowerPoint presentation that described how insurgent propaganda used information on tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) of the military. He had a file on how terrorists use “instances of website tampering to further their cause,” how personal computers and internet are a few examples of capabilities available to nations, independent organizations and individuals, and information warfare can be conducted on the internet.

Manning also had a file that showed insurgent organizations “might be capable of cyber mining for intelligence.” And all of this material was “neatly organized” on his hard drive suggesting he “knew and understood all of that information.

In his job, he was trained to focus on signature activities in the area of operations, the government said. He did constant research and reviewing of information on insurgents. He pulled info related to improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and built pattern analyses with military incident reports.

Manning had given others training on how to protect classified information. Fein said the government had to hold him accountable for the “exact training he gave others on this subject matter” and he knew not to release information to “anyone,” including activists and hackers.

He was a “trained analyst who understood how to assess the enemy and how the enemy assesses US forces deployed.” He was “trained on how enemy conducts its own analysis and their capabilities use information about US and national security in their fight against the United States.”

As for his knowledge of WikiLeaks, Fein suggested that Manning had “pulled as much information as possible to please Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.” WikiLeaks had found in him the “right insider to mine” a secret government network housing classified information—SIPRNET.

He had chosen WikiLeaks because the organization could “guarantee him real-time disclosures on the web as fast as possible for the world to access.”

Based on three reports produced by “diverse elements of the US military,” he would have known that WikiLeaks was considered a threat to US national security. He would have known that it was seen not only as a threat “from external disclosure but also from an insider” in the Defense Department. “An insider would be able to easily leak information without fear of any direct repercussions.”

WikiLeaks was “anything but a journalistic enterprise” to Manning, according to the government. Both Manning and Assange had described it as the “first intelligence agency of the people.” In chats with a person the government believes to be Assange, Manning discussed giving an intelligence source a list of things he wanted. At another point, obtaining a “cryptophone” for communications was raised.

Fein clearly stated to the judge that giving information to the New York Times and The Washington Post would still be a crime, but that is “not what happened in this case under these facts.”

Manning used WikiLeaks as a platform to ensure “all information available to the world including enemies of the United States.”

The government proceeded to cite testimony of Professor Yochai Benkler, who had been qualified as an expert witness by the defense to testify on WikiLeaks as a part of the networked Fourth Estate.

Fein contended that Benkler had admitted that a “transparency movement is not journalistic enterprise.” Information activists are not a journalistic enterprise. There is difference between activism and journalism. “Information anarchists” would not be information activists either.

He declared that WikiLeaks “fails to meet even Professor Benkler’s criteria for a journalistic enterprise.”

This was manipulative, as Benkler had actually said, “I think there’s a difference between activism and journalism. Although again there are activists who also perform journalism, and when they perform journalism they’re doing journalism. There are journalists who perform activism. When they’re doing that, they’re activists. It’s not a unique organization or individual identity. It’s a behavior.”

Closing argument by military prosecutors continued late into the afternoon.

For more updates, go here for a live blog on proceedings.

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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."