Defense moves to dismiss charges, opens case with Manning’s superior: trial report, day 15

Day 15: The defense moved to dismiss charges after the government rested its case, and then proceeded to call its first witness, one of Manning’s superiors in the intelligence division in Iraq. See here for all previous trial and pretrial reports. We’ll update this post later today.

By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. July 8, 2013.

Defense lawyers Thomas Hurley (left) and David Coombs. (Sketched by Debra Van Poolen -- click for source)

Defense lawyers Thomas Hurley (left) and David Coombs. (Sketched by Debra Van Poolen — click for source)

The government rested its case against Bradley Manning last week, and the defense began its case today with the announcement that it filed four motions to direct a not-guilty verdict. The defense moved to dismiss the aiding the enemy charge, a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act charge, the federal larceny charge, and specifically the charge that Manning “stole” the U.S. Forces in Iraq Global Address List. Prosecutors have until Thursday, July 11, to respond to that motion, after which Judge Denise Lind will rule.

Judge Lind asked the defense to proceed despite that motion, and the defense began by playing the unedited version of the ‘Collateral Murder’ video, of U.S. Apache gunners shooting Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists. Defense lawyer David Coombs played the video to verify that it matched a transcript of the video, which he entered as evidence.

Then the defense called Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Ehersman, security supervisor for Manning’s intelligence division in Baghdad, to the stand.

CW2 Ehersman testified that intelligence analysts were allowed to download classified information to CDs, to save information because their computers crashed several times per week. There were no restrictions on what soldiers were allowed to burn to a CD. They also put information on CDs to share it with their Iraqi counterparts and to transport files too big to keep on their computers. These CDs were supposed to be marked with their classification levels, but Ehersman admitted this wasn’t always done. 

Ehersman called Manning the best junior analyst in the intelligence division (the go-to guy to help with computer problems) and said that Manning’s work products were the best in the division. Manning was in the ‘Future Ops’ division, which involved preparing assessments that would help soldiers plan for what to expect. This work included data mining, which meant searching all available databases across the SIPRnet (the military’s Secret network) to cull data for an intelligence report. He said that Manning had a lot to learn in the assessment portion of intelligence, but that this was expected of a junior analyst.

He discussed the Iraq and Afghan War Logs, known to analysts as SigActs (Significant Actions), and what they comprised. He described SigActs as a historical record, capturing past events, used for creating density plots and mapping trends over time. He said SigActs did not reveal names of key sources, because that would be Top Secret information.

He also testified about program use. Ehersman said that soldiers were allowed to run executable files from CDs without any restrictions. They weren’t allowed to add programs to the computers’ hard drives, because that would require administrative access, but they could use a shortcut on the desktop to run an executable file from a CD.


We were notified of the first ten defense witnesses. Besides Ehersman, those include Capt. Barclay Keay, Sgt. David Sadtler, Capt. Steven Lim, Ms. Lauren McNamara, Col. (Ret.) Morris Davis, Mr. Cassius Hall, Mr. Charles Ganiel, Professor Yochai Benkler, and one stipulation, referred to as ‘Exhibition B.’

Update, 5:00 PM

After lunch, we heard from three members of Bradley’s unit in Iraq. Sergeant David Sadtler testified that Manning was the only one in the intelligence section who really kept up with current events outside of the mission, and that brigade staff would go to him to find out what was going on in the world.

Sgt. Sadtler said that Manning came to him, sometime after he arrived in December 2009, concerned about the Iraqi police arresting detainees for printing “anti-Iraqi government propoganda.” He said Manning seemed upset about the evidence, but Sadtler didn’t do anything about it. He said Manning had a “deep belief in the news and what was going on, whereas other soldiers were more concerned about going about their day.”

Captain Steven Lim, under whom Manning worked, testified about Manning’s skill in data mining, statistical analysis, and trend analysis. Capt. Lim said that the TSCIF – where intelligence analysts worked with classified information up to the Top Secret level – did not have an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), which would have let soldiers know what they could and couldn’t do in the TSCIF. 

Capt. Lim said soldiers were allowed to listen to music from the shared drive or from the classified internetwork, but that playing games or movies would be against their user agreement. However, he said no official guidance was put out regarding whether running executable files (such as video games, or Wget) on their work computers or from a CD was permitted. He confirmed that computers crashed frequently and that there were no restrictions on downloading information to a CD to prevent losing it. 

Good analysts were expected to use all available tools and databases, including old SigActs, the State Department’s diplomatic cables, and open source (nonmilitary) information when data mining — though the government established on cross-examination that Lim thought he wasn’t expected to surf the Afghanistan database.

Capt. Lim testified that key sources were referred to by number, but that occasionally some could be identified by name by mistake. Capt. Lim said he wasn’t sure if the war logs revealed Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) but said that the enemy could use data like Battle Damage Information (BDI) – which documents how a vehicle was impacted by an enemy attack. The defense established, though, that that information was already readily available to enemies who could see how vehicles were impacted out in the open.

The defense also made a point of asking, as it has for many witnesses who would know, about what an intelligence gap is. Whether foreign adversaries used WikiLeaks was listed as an intelligence gap in the Army Counterintelligence Report that the government is using as evidence of Manning’s knowledge. Capt. Lim testified, as others have, that a gap refers to information that the U.S. doesn’t have and wants to investigate further.

Capt. Lim testified that he didn’t recall any training on the enemy using WikiLeaks specifically. Asked if he saw anything on the enemy using WikiLeaks in an unofficial capacity, Lim said “only on TV and in the media.”

Lauren McNamara confirms chat logs

Lauren McNamara, who chatted with Manning (when she was known as Zach Antolak) from February through August 2009, then took the stand, confirming portions of the chat logs so that the defense could admit the logs as evidence.

The defense reviewed portions on Manning’s hopes to save lives and learn more:

8:07:20 PM bradass87: same thing with me, im reading a lot more, delving deeper into philosophy, art, physics, biology, politics then i ever did in school… whats even better with my current position is that i can apply what i learn to provide more information to my officers and commanders, and hopefully save lives… i figure that justifies my sudden choice to this 

On ensuring everyone’s safety:

(8:57:06 PM) bradass87: im more concerned about making sure that everyone, soldiers, marines, contractor, even the local nationals, get home to their families

On his humanism: 

(1:28:28 AM) bradass87: since i place value on people first

(1:31:14 AM) bradass87: my personal value to things in order: dirt/rocks/ice, single-celled organisms, plants, man-made objects, various animals, mammalian animals, people

On his intent to enter politics:

(8:25:13 PM) bradass87: my plan is pretty simple but vague… get credentials, nice ones… ones that make it difficult for really creepy conservative people to attack… then jump into politics

On how he viewed the military: 

(10:10:15 PM) bradass87: i actually believe what the army tries to make itself out to be: a diverse place full of people defending the country… male, female, black, white, gay, straight, christian, jewish, asian, old or young, it doesnt matter to me; we all wear the same green uniform… but its still a male-dominated, christian-right, oppressive organization, with a few hidden jems of diversity

And on nuance:

(10:40:49 PM) bradass87: sometimes i wish it were all black and white like the media and politicians present it… him, he’s the bad guy, oh and he, he’s the good guy… its all shades of blurry grey 

Then the government reviewed portions as well. It had McNamara read sections on activism:

(8:26:53 PM) bradass87: activism is fun

(8:27:13 PM) bradass87: it doesnt do much unless you get heard, however…

(8:30:52 PM) bradass87: worringly, “terrorists” are a form of political activist, however, they recruit young people with troubled lives (a sick family member, extremely poor upbringing, etc) offer them a monetary solution, take them into a camp, give them psychoactive drugs, psyhologically drug them for many months, give them an explosive jacket or rigged vehicle, give them heavy doses of uppers and send them on their way to try and kill themselves… if they go through with it (which is what the uppers are supposed to do)

(8:35:53 PM) bradass87: we try our best to keep it from being a tragedy, thats what all the infrastructure, schools, elections, and military training out there is for

On other views on the military:

(9:03:07 PM) bradass87: military is all f’d up… contracts with closed source developers with incompatible software… drives me NUTS

(9:07:52 PM) bradass87: but, luckily i use my DC contacts from Starbucks and get the word out to those higher up in the chain…

On how he viewed Guantanamo Bay: 

(10:28:59 PM) bradass87: question: guantanamo bay, the closure is good, but what do we do about the detainees =\

(10:33:01 PM) bradass87: well, some of them are actually pretty dangerous indeed… some of them weren’t dangerous before, but are now in fact dangerous because we imprisoned them for so long (don’t quote me on that, for the love of my career), and others might, with a little more than an apology would easily fit back into society… who’s who… worryingly, you cant really tell

(10:35:45 PM) bradass87: the reason thats difficult: the things we have tried them on are classified information, connected with other pieces of classified information… so if a trial is done, it might have to be done in some kind of modified trial, where pieces of evidence which are classified are presented only in a classified environment

(10:38:59 PM) bradass87: some of them are indeed dangerous, and those that have left have, and i as a liberal and someone against gitmo will tell you… yes, many of those previously released, even though innocent before, are quickly recruited as leading figures for new wings of extremist groups 

On foreign affairs: 

(2:38:40 AM) bradass87: ive got foreign affairs on my mind constantly now…

(2:39:31 AM) bradass87: mexico’s spiralling violence, pakistan’s instability, north korea’s rhetorical posturing… blah blah blah

(2:40:20 AM) bradass87: one of the bad parts of the job, having to think about bad stuff

(2:42:00 AM) bradass87: just read a state department release…

And on sending a link: 

(11:26:35 PM) bradass87: im working on an Incident Tracker for my unit, to update the current one we have from the unit’s last deployment

He then sent this (now-broken) link:

Col. Morris Davis as national security and Guantanamo detainee expert

 Col Morris Davis (ret.) is a former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay who now teaches on national security law. In late 2008, President Obama’s transition team sought his advice on Guantanamo policy. The defense moved to qualify Col. Davis as an expert on national security generally and on Guantanamo detainee policy  specifically, focusing on the Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) that Manning released to WikiLeaks. The government contests both elements. 

As the defense laid a foundation for his expertise, Col. Davis testified that the DABs were referred to as “baseball cards,” as they provided basic biographical data. He said that beyond a detainee’s name and location, the DABs were “wildly inaccurate” and therefore not useful. It was the documents used to create the DABs that were of significant use. The briefs, he said, contained no sources or methods or otherwise actionable intelligence. 

Col. Davis said he worked to declassify information on detainees in order to help defense lawyers.

Prosecutors challenged Col. Davis’s qualifications as an expert, establishing that he hadn’t dealt with classified information for several years. 

Following that questioning, Judge Lind ruled that Col. Davis won’t be qualified as an expert on national-security law generally but would be considered an expert on Guantanamo-detainee policy and information used, specifically the DABs. 

We then recessed for the day, and we’ll resume tomorrow at 9:30 AM.

5 thoughts on “Defense moves to dismiss charges, opens case with Manning’s superior: trial report, day 15

  1. Meanwhile this german Mollath killers and the killers of thousands of others, abused in psychiatriy repression “murders” and killers, call them supporter of Manning, Assange, Snowden. They sitting at home “bumsen” and drinking bear, and at last 200 people of this germany where at the demo in Berlin. Meanwhile they use Manning, Snowden, Assange for the “german propaganda”. Isnt this the total falsehood ? Its election time. For real absolutley nobody risked not a bit, for defending “Manning, Assange, Snowden”. But there is no bigger falsehood, than in germany. When they grill their fat steak, sitting in the bear garden, then this fat germs, this heaviest human rights abusers, then they talk a little bit, how to use then, this persons for their false propaganda. There are absolutely no supporters of Manning, Snowden, Assange. They didnt give theese persons “asyl”, and didnt let the plane flight over “germany”, thats it. And such “bumsers”, such false, puffies (30.000.000 every month, using their “sex-slaves) from the poverty countries, sorry, they are the last of the last.

  2. As a person who occupies the sometimes uncomfortable middle of the political spectrum (attend a conservative church, always outwardly completely straight, and have had a few gay best friends whom I loved very much over the years but have never had the social skills to tell them so), I feel some sort of connection to what Bradley Manning has gone through and can’t get it or the Edward Snowden situation out of my mind. Not only do they look like a lot like me when I was younger, small guy and bespectacled, but some of Manning’s experiences seem somewhat similar since I myself was a recycled private at Fort Leonard Wood, MO two decades ago (I only graduated from Basic Training when the drill instructor took pity on me the second time through, after spending all day trying to through a grenade far enough to no avail, and let me pass anyway). My advanced training elsewhere as to be a medic in Texas proved to be my breaking point when I discovered that I would have to be recycled in that program as well due my inability to learn much under the stress presented there. This meant that after starting basic in the beginning of July I would miss Christmas with my parents. The only solution I could come up with was to escape and head home. I waited for the right time and acted like a recent graduate and hired a cab to take me to the airport with me wearing my exercise clothes that I recently changed into and ditched the uniform at the airport. I only had enough money to fly halfway and rode for a day the rest of the way on a Greyhound Bus with money wired from my parents. However, the next day was the inevitable call to my parents from the base asking if I was there. I decided to answer the call and made preparations to come back so that I wouldn’t be labeled a deserter and get a dishonorable discharge after spending time in Fort Leavenworth.

    However, once I was back on base things happened as slow as possible, first I was ordered to stay with my company for a few more weeks which was very embarrassing because they were so far ahead of me in their studies and I had no way of catching up. Finally they had me move to another barracks to spend the rest of the cycle there going through the tediously and abnormally slow process of a general discharge. I finally left when everyone else was graduating. There was never any real attempt to try to see how my issues could be “fixed” back then so that I could successfully finish the program. All they really cared about was making an example of me in front of my other classmates so that no one else would try what I did. I learned the hard way that some ways to pay for college are just not worth it.

    This experience has made me realize that Bradley Manning’s treatment is the same thing but just on a whole different scale due to what he did and the example the government felt they had to make. I realize none of that torture he experienced in 2010 including solitary confinement without clothes or glasses was justified. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for a severely myopic person like myself to go without glasses for a year. From what I have read that usually will cause eyesight to even get worse and is torture in itself when you can’t focus on anything more than a couple of inches from your nose the entire time. So even if he doesn’t agree with this, I am going to pray for Bradley Manning and his trial because a part of me will always be Bradley Manning.

    The moral posturing by the government in the guise of protecting national security through torture of prisoners here and abroad has to end. The secret programs need more oversight by Congress. Let there be light shined in the dark places. The government already has the technology necessary to create the ultimate dystopian society. Let’s pray and take necessary action in our daily lives as citizens so it does not come to that for a long time.

  3. It is astonishing to read what information of transcript is available of this trial, for the following reason (singular).
    I understand the stipulated portions, but it seems abundantly clear that Manning’s defense, and the cross-examined prosecution witnesses on every count, have shown that he is not guilty of the charges.

    I do not know why he asked for a trial without jury, as I am sure that a jury would have found him not guilty on every contested charge.

    I do believe she is a hanging judge. I am not sure of why the record of Lamo/Manning conversation was disallowed, and suspect that it is due to the judge’s bias. (If you are familiar with federal prosecution reaching too tenuously – there are numerous occasions of this across the past five decades – you will recognize which judges exhibit bias)

    Although experienced lawyers feel that he will be found guilty of several charges, I feel once again, that the evidence exonerates Pvt. Manning – a jury would have done so, but the judge who only granted him 117 days off for his cruel and unusual treatment previous to trial, is biased.

  4. In clarification to this linked report title, “Manning will not testify: Bradley Manning Defense Rests Their Case”. It’s important to remember that in February of this year, Bradley went on record to detail what he did, and why he did, to military Judge Denise Lind. During this “merit phase” of the court martial trial, at the end of which Judge Lind will find him guilty or not guilty on each charged offense (approx. one to two weeks from now), it makes sense that Bradley would have nothing new to add. However, in the upcoming “sentencing / punishment phase”, you may see Bradley take the stand. This phase will likely last two to three weeks. Overall, it is just as important–if not more–in the context of this case, and Bradley’s life.

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