Manning hearing: Day four

Computer forensics testimony given in hearing to determine whether the man accused of leaking US diplomatic cables should go to trial.

Computer forensics testimony dominated the fourth day in the hearing to determine whether Army PFC Bradley Manning’s case should go to trial. Manning is the alleged source of the 251,887 US diplomatic cables published by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.  

The defence questioned Special Agent David Shaver about how widely available the diplomatic cables allegedly downloaded by Manning were on the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) . Shaver testified that no password was required to access them and there was no prohibition on intelligence analysts accessing them. He also testified about a file found on Manning’s computer that contained 10,000 documents but was corrupted. Those files were never released.  

A README file recovered from Manning’s personal computer attached to reports from the CENTCOM database read, “This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war, and revealing the true nature of 21th century asymmetric war. Have a good day.”  

While the contents of the reports weren’t detailed, the court was told they included 91,000 reports on Afghanistan and 400,000 reports on Iraq. 

In an encrypted message recovered from Manning’s personal email account to acquaintance Eric Schmiedl from May 19, 2011, Manning wrote, “I was the source of the 12 JUL 07 video from the Apache Weapons Team which killed the two journalists and injured 2 kids.”

Manning’s roommate, SPC Eric Baker, also testified. He said Manning had told him he didn’t think the army was for him but according to Baker, never said why.  He said they weren’t friends, just roommates in Iraq. 

Manning’s family hasn’t been at the hearing so far, but he did have a few supporters at the hearing. One was former army officer Lt Dan Choi, dressed in full military uniform. He was ejected from Fort Meade, the military base where the courth hearings are held, for allegedly heckling military policemen.

When MP’s went to question him, Choi grasped the handrails on the sidewalk and was then removed to a security trailer. He was there for about 20 minutes before being escorted out of the base. He will not be allowed back into the proceedings, but the military has decided not to press charges against him.  

Legal counsel for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks was also at the hearing. Jennifer Robinson left the hearing to offer legal counsel to Choi, which he refused. 

Also in attendance was Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers about the War in Vietnam to the New York Times in 1971. After court recessed in the morning, he attempted to talk to Manning. He was immediately removed from the courtroom by military police. But he was let back in after having the rules of court explained to him. 

Of the approximately 20 prosecution witnesses and three-four defence witnesses, more than half have testified. The hearing is expected to last through the end of the week.   

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