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Wikileaker Bradley Manning’s Former Army Supervisors Testify on Day Three of Trial

Wikileaker Bradley Manning’s Former Army Supervisors Testify on Day Three of Trial

Day three in the military trial of Bradley Manning continued today, with testimony from the accused Wikileaker’s former Army supervisor and an Army specialist who was Manning’s team leader at Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq.

Some of the testimony focused on Private First Class Manning’s access to and knowledge of his unit’s network and its security restrictions, as well as his work product as an Army intelligence specialist.

Manning’s former team leader Jihrleah Showman recalled the soldier’s talk of his computer skills, boasting of his ability to crack passwords, and described some of his off-duty social and political interests.

From the LA Times:

“He indicated to me he was very fluent in computers, that he spoke their language, and that there was nothing he could not do on a computer,” she said.

But beyond the often nerdy life of a computer expert, the 25-year-old Manning also displayed a much lighter side. “He talked about social issues,” she said. “He talked a lot about liking to attend martini parties in the Washington area and having a lot of friends. And how he loved shopping and, before he joined the military, working as a barista at Starbucks.”

He also, she said, liked to debate U.S. policy. He was “very political,” she said, on the “extreme Democratic side.”

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle Balonek, Manning’s former supervisor, had positive feedback regarding the work that Manning produced as an intelligence analyst, telling the court, “He did put together, I would say, excellent products.”

There was also some back and forth exchange between prosecution and defense about the environment and conditions pertaining to the secure area and network in which Manning’s unit worked.

From The Guardian:

The prosecution team led by Major Ashden Fein used its questioning to show how Manning, as a “35 Fox” intelligence analyst, was given repeated lessons about the importance of keeping classified information secret. Balonek read to the court excerpts of the non-disclosure agreement that Manning personally signed in 2008 in his presence.

The agreement said: “I understand that I have been granted access to classified information by the trust placed in me by the United States government. I have been advised that the unauthorised disclosure of classified information could cause damage to the US or could be used to the advantage of a foreign nation.”

Fein asked Balonek whether Manning had been monitored every moment he spent in the Scif. “No,” Balonek replied, “because he worked with us and had that level of trust. You have to trust the other analyst beside you, it’s literally impossible to watch someone 24 hours a day and conduct your own analysis.”

The defense contrasted such answers under cross-examination, depicting the area as one in which security discipline was lax.  No specific training was provided on restrictions to SIPRnet, the secure network used to transmit classified information, according to Showman.  And when asked by the defense if there were any restrictions to the amount of intelligence data that could be downloaded by members in their unit, Manning’s former supervisor Balonek replied, “Only the size of the CD, sir,” according to the Guardian.

The Guardian also noted what seemed to be an important followup question during an exchange about analysts in the secure area being permitted to watch movies and listen to music in their downtime.

The judge presiding over the trial, who is sitting without a jury, Colonel Denise Lind, added her own question to Balonek that was clearly framed with Manning in mind. “If an intelligence analyst didn’t want to watch a movie, and was interested in politics and wanted to search Siprnet, was he prohibited from doing that?”

“No, he was not,” Balonek replied.

Yesterday’s proceedings featured testimony from ex-hacker Adrian Lamo, the man who turned Manning into authorities in 2010 after Manning revealed his actions to Lamo in a series of chat logs.

Official court transcripts of the Manning trial are not available, but the Freedom of the Press Foundation is providing its own transcripts of the daily proceedings through a crowdfunded stenographer.  You can check their site daily for transcripts – morning sessions are posted by 7pm the same day, while afternoon sessions are posted by 9am the following morning.


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What help is it to establish there was no constant monitoring or restrictions on Manning and the other analysts? That’s what security clearances are for, isn’t it?

I just don’t see how this line of questioning helps at all. It’s one thing to confuse a civilian jury, but there isn’t one here! So what’s the point? He had to do it because he had the opportunity?

    casualobserver in reply to Estragon. | June 6, 2013 at 7:15 am

    The strategy does seem odd. It seems to have a lot in common with modern social science themes and even some psychology academics: The guilty are less guilty because they were either allowed or enticed. Kind of has a WH feel to it, but in the reverse. Lack of results isn’t Obama’s fault – it’s due to the GOP not allowing him to rule without being contested. Requiring him to negotiate.

    For me the most odd part is I understand Manning already admitted he violated his orders and distributed the information. So this just seems to be an effort to spread the guilt.

    Neo in reply to Estragon. | June 6, 2013 at 9:05 am

    It seems to be some effort to make it look like security was so lax that Manning was expected to do something stupid.
    The other side of that argument is that Manning was trusted.

TrooperJohnSmith | June 6, 2013 at 4:56 am

His supervisors should also be on trial for giving this simpering little ass-bag drama-queen access to secret documents.