Ruling on Patrick Kennedy’s speculation; James McCarl testifying in secret: trial report, day 29

By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. August 7, 2013. 

James McCarl, drawn by Debra Van Poolen

James McCarl, drawn by Debra Van Poolen

The seven reporters covering Bradley Manning’s sentencing trial today broke for a four-hour lunch at Ft. Meade, as government witness James McCarl testified in a closed session, largely referring to documents which are in the public domain but still referred to as “purported” cables and files. 

McCarl is a division chief within the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), which analyzes IED technology, use, and patterns to improve U.S. military leaders’ situational awareness, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan and now around the world.

Following WikiLeaks’ 2010 releases, JIEDDO was tasked to review 3,790 leaked Afghanistan Significant Activity reports (SigActs) and 111,000 Iraq SigActs to assess the impact from an IED perspective. 

McCarl was in charge of three teams:

  • Operations Research Systems Analysis (ORSA), which McCarl broadly described as a group that analyzed statistics, capabilities, and helped “rack and stack tools,” and was helpful in “pull[ing] from these gigantic mounds of data” 
  • Red Team, which looked at what the enemy could do with the information released, and enacted scenarios to show command leaders how they might react 
  • Open Source, which scanned open-source coverage of the released cables, “particularly in jihadist websites,” and how Pakistani, Iraqi, and other governments were reacting 

He said that ORSA only reviewed 2,000 of the 111,000 Iraq reports, to get an understanding of the main keywords to search for throughout the rest.

McCarl calculated that JIEDDO had spent 855 man-hours at roughly $200,000 in reviewing these files, but that he couldn’t quantify the impact it had on JIEDDO to pull those employees away from other work.

The court moved to a closed session, and will return at 3:00pm ET. 

Judge allows limited speculation testimony

Earlier this morning, military judge Col. Denise Lind ruled on the defense motion to limit the scope of Patrick Kennedy’s testimony. Per her ruling yesterday, the defense will lodge its objections to each government witness to ensure that the prosecution doesn’t present evidence of indirect harm. The judge will hear each witness testify, hear the defense’s objections and the government’s response, and then rule on which portions are admissible.

The defense objected to six specific portions of Kennedy’s testimony 

1. Testimony related to the diminuation of reporting from diplomats abroad

a. Judge Lind ruled that Kennedy’s testimony on this “chilling effect” was admissible as long as it related to the time period directly following WikiLeaks’ releases or subsequent news coverage of them

b. She ruled that Kennedy’s opinion on “long-term diminuation” is speculative and therefore inadmissible

2. His belief that if the United States doesn’t have other governments’ trust, it can’t get accurate information and therefore an accurate “product”

a. Judge Lind ruled that this testimony is admissible

3. His belief that nongovernment officials were less willing to speak fully and frankly

a. Same as part one: admissible only in the limited time frame

4. His belief that some embasses included less information in their reporting out of fear, because Kennedy testified that this reduced reporting was “self-generated” and therefore not a result of State Department direction

a. As before, Judge Lind ruled this is admissible in the limited time frame

5. His belief that a “chilling effect” on diplomatic reporting has and will continue to effect that reporting

a. Again, Judge Lind ruled that only short-term testimony here is admissible

b. She ruled that the foundation for his opinion regarding a long-term chilling effect is not based in quantifiable data and is inadmissibly speculative

6. His opinion that the chilling effect has decreased information coming in and had an effect on U.S. policy, and that policy decisions were made on “incomplete information”

a. Judge Lind ruled that Kennedy’s opinion on policy-making in general is admissible for the limited time periodShe ruled that his opinion on the negative effect on policy makers in D.C. based on incomplete information was speculative and inadmissible

 The government will call another witness this afternoon, not marked for a classified session. It’s expected to call at least four more witnesses over two more days, all marked for classified sessions. Three are redacted, but thanks to Alexa O’Brien’s research, we expect those to include Adam Pearson from JIEDDO, along with Rear Admiral Kevin Donegan and Major General Kenneth McKenzie from the Pentagon. The fourth will be Youssef Aboul-Enein, a scholar on militant Islam in Iraq. 

Update, 3:30pm ET

After the long lunch break, Adam Pearson from JIEDDO testified for about twenty minutes in open court, before moving to a closed session. A certified “ethical hacker” and Arabic linguist, Pearson researched IED “networks” for JIEDDO, which included investigating all logistic and financial preparation for IED attacks. 


It’s worth noting that just one day before McCarl and Pearson testified about JIEDDO,’s Kelley Vlahos wrote about the organization’s exorbitantly expensive failures, 

Thus, the story of JIEDDO (Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization), which, despite getting a total of $21 billion in taxpayer funds over the last seven years, has been accused of chronic mismanagement, redundancy, secrecy, and worst of all, largely failing at its core mission, which is to “focus (lead, advocate, coordinate) all Department of Defense actions in support of the Combatant Commanders’ and their respective Joint task forces’ efforts to defeat IEDs as weapons of strategic influence.” 

We don’t know if the defense was able to discuss these issues in court, as the JIEDDO testimony took place almost entirely in secret.

2 thoughts on “Ruling on Patrick Kennedy’s speculation; James McCarl testifying in secret: trial report, day 29

  1. My thanks too for providing this info. I heard Kennedy’s testimony in court on the 5th and am very gratified to learn that at least some of his testimony was deemed inadmissible and speculative, as was quite obvious to all of Bradley’s supporters.

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