Judge refuses to dismiss Aiding the Enemy and Computer Fraud charges against Manning: trial report, day 19

By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. July 18, 2013.

Defense lawyer David Coombs and Pfc. Bradley Manning, drawn by Debra Van Poolen

Defense lawyer David Coombs and Pfc. Bradley Manning, drawn by Debra Van Poolen

Ruling on two defense motions to direct not-guilty verdicts, Judge Denise Lind refused to throw out the ‘aiding the enemy’ and Computer Fraud charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning.  The defense filed the motions at the conclusion of the government’s case, before it began with its own witnesses, arguing that the government had failed to provide evidence to support its charges. Rules for Court Martial instruct the judge for this type of motion to view the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution. The judge ruled that the evidence the government provided was sufficient to not throw out the charges at this time, but at her final verdict she will weigh both government and defense evidence and could still find Manning not guilty. 

Judge Lind said that the prosecution established that in his training as an intelligence analyst, Manning learned that the enemy uses the Internet to attempt to obtain classified information and to keep such information secret. He plotted U.S. military activity, she said the government proved, and knew that the enemy would attempt to do the same. That evidence, she ruled, could tend to establish that Manning knew he was dealing with the enemy. (See here for why that evidence is weak, circumstantial, and therefore could set an extremely dangerous precedent.)

For the computer fraud charge, she ruled that the government established that Manning used unauthorized software (the automated downloading program Wget), and that her court instructions dictate that restrictions on access include “manner of access.” This evidence was enough, when viewed (per her instructions) in a light most favorable to the government, to not dismiss the charge at this time.

Stealing government property charges

The parties then litigated the defense’s other to motions to direct not-guilty verdicts, on the charges that Manning stole government property. The defense argues, as laid out here, that the government mischarged Manning in saying that he stole “databases” instead of saying the stole copies of some of the records in a database and the information contained within.

The first distinction is that Manning took copies, not original records, and therefore never deprived the government of the information. The second is that Manning stole records, and the information within, not the full databases themselves. He didn’t take the infrastructure that makes the database searchable and interconnected, so when the government worked to establish the value (the federal statute requires the stolen property be worth more than $1,000) of the database and cost of producing it, they were proving what they charged but not what Manning ever had in his possession. Defense lawyer David Coombs used the analogy of stealing merchandise from WalMart: if he stole a sweater, he wouldn’t be charged with stealing WalMart. Even if he took all of the merchandise in WalMart, he wouldn’t be charged with stealing the bricks and mortar of the store, and the value of the employees wouldn’t be used to prove the charge, as the government has essentially done in this case.

The government contends that it charged correctly, and that information contained in a record is inherent within that record. Prosecutor Capt. Von Elton said that charging Manning with a “thing of value” put him on notice that he would be charged with the information within. He also said that the distinction regarding “copies” doesn’t apply, because digital records can exist in multiple locations simultaneously, which the defense disagreed with thereafter.

Recess, rebuttal

The government recalled defense witness Chief Warrant Officer Joshua Ehersman to testify about his memory of which types of programs and files soldiers were authorized to install on or run from their work computers. He said he’d tried to install programs but didn’t have administrative privileges to do so, and he ran them from a CD while waiting for contractor Jason Milliman to install them for him. 

The defense established that other soldiers used music, movies, and games, and that Milliman, as a civilian, didn’t have authority over soldiers’ use. 

The government then recalled Milliman, who said that there was no physical restriction from running an unauthorized program on the work computers from a CD. The defense established that he was somewhat lax about using programs: if an unauthorized program was used and didn’t interfere with other programs or files, it was generally allowed. 

This all goes to whether Manning’s use of Wget, with which he automated downloading of State Dept. cables, was authorized, and whether such use constitutes exceeding his unauthorized access.

David Shaver on Wget

Forensic examiner and special agent David Shaver returned to the stand to explain how Wget works, and how Manning used it. He said Manning’s computers are the only two military machines on which he’d ever seen Wget. Shaver found Wget in the ‘Prefetch’ area (used to help programs run faster after their first use) of Manning’s My Documents folder.

Wget is a command-line program, which means users type to run it instead of using a mouse. Shaver testified that he saw evidence that Manning copied the names of State Dept. cables, pasted the names to direct Wget to download the cables in bulk. 

The defense established that it’s quite possible that Manning had the Net-Centric Diplomacy (State Department database) open while he Wget was running – which goes to whether Wget gave him any new access, or helped him do something he couldn’t do otherwise (only much slower). 

The defense also established that the Army was in possession of software called Host Based Security System, which could have blocked individual users from using self-contained executable files (like Wget), but did not use it.

This testimony goes specifically to whether Manning’s manner of accessing the cables constituted “exceeding authorized access,” which would violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a ten-year offense.

The government attempted to admit as evidence an email purportedly from Manning to a New York Times reporter. The defense objecting, calling it irrelevant, and the government explained that it was sent April 8, 2010 (three days after the Apache video), and said it proved that Manning tried to go to the Times. Prosecutors contended that that fact showed Manning knew what a legitimate news organization was, allowing the court to infer that WikiLeaks by contrast was illegitimate. Judge Lind said she didn’t buy the connection and didn’t allow the email.

Court is now in recess. Tomorrow the government will resume with its rebuttal case at 9:30am, with two more witnesses. Then the defense may present a surrebuttal case in response.

11 thoughts on “Judge refuses to dismiss Aiding the Enemy and Computer Fraud charges against Manning: trial report, day 19


    And for all the little government weasels that monitor this site you can kiss my rusty sheriffs badge. You and your ilk have NO honor NO integrity NO humanity and you relegated your place as humanity’s cancer

  2. This court is in fact to “stupid” and practise a form of “naïve realism”, and their arguments can be simply reprooved. The jugde isn’t able to understand “complex correlations”, doesnt they have any education ? The fact in the case of Bradley Manning is, that the CIA, CIC, or whatever, theese people which now for 70 years are “aprooveed” involved in brutal and heavy criminal, pervertes human rights abuses, international, caused theese war, which normaly must be brought to a “wwar crimes tribunal” in Den Haag. Bradley Manning is only a “witness”, for this unbelieveable crimes, which shows the US Army as an instrument of “forensic abnormal massmurders and massabusers”, every normal forensic detective will proove that. Now everybody knows, that “the Deutsches Reich” first used “Al Kaida” and the Dschihad, as an instrument, later then the british used Al Kaida in the middle east. Every analyse of guilt, will show this, and this is a Den Haag job. Later then the CIA in Afghanistan used Al Kaida, as instrument against the “russians”, as a cold war instrument. this “alone” is war crime. At last the facts and the reality will come back, same with the “nazis”. So Bin Laden was a “CIA Agent” and his Al Kaida was formed and supported by the US millitary. At home then there are sitting, fat and ugly business mens, bouncing and party and throw the money out of the window. They use the US Army as “security service” for their bloody crimes. This must have an end. This shall not be a “billionäres club”, where the poverties, hold their head, for this fat and ugly billionäres, for securing them their “pervert parties”. So back. The Al Kaida was in fact built up by the US millitaries, so the conspiracy is from parts from the US Army. George Bush made a “illegitime war” on Irak, which was not allowed by the UN, and this is war crime with nearly 1.5 millions of murdered and tortured little babies, childs, civilians. For this war crime, Den Haag is waiting, and at last they will get the “involved criminals” which did that. Nearly every war in middle east and in the third world, was only for “economic interest” of “theese enterprises” which in second world war, supported the “nazis”. Remember Prescott Bush, Ford, Hollywood, Coca Cola, Standard Oil, Wall Street, Rockefeller, and so on and so on. And for such “perdide betrayers”, the US Army fight ?
    Then they can at once go and “fight for IG Farben” and the kidgasers, from germsland. No, no the conspiracy is from the court of this trial. And sorry, i dont think that the “majority” of the US Army wants to be “leaded” by old bloody fat kidgaser germs, which sitting at home on their “luxory yachts”, party, bounce and step on red carpets, like, äh, how is the name of this bloody, cowardly person, blond, called Robert, which, when he gets a blast in front, shits into his trousers, but sent the young poverties directly into the death ? No, no, this way, this cant work, cause this poor mens of the US Army one day will realize, this massive abuse, of this fat and ugly business man, which use them as a security for war crimes, when only the “pervertes” find fun on this. So here are sitting the war criminals, the human rights abusers, directly in the court, and this must have a end, so that the US Army at last knows, for what they fight. Here in “germany” its now, as a reaction to the World War two the only country of the whole planet, which, lets the soldiers the “possibillity” to decide, wheter they want participate on a “millitary mission” or not, and ask their consience, and they have the possibillity here to, say “no”, thats new. But the US Army is lead by “fasscism” rules and theese are “very pervert” and brutal, against every humanity. So its fact, that here, the war criminals, which murdered and tortured so many thousands of unguilty persons, when sametimes they “made conspiracy” with Al Kaida, and built them up. Bradley Manning is the “best enemy” of the Al Kaida, cause educational advertising, is the best force of “democracies” to dissolve, conflicts, what never is the intention of “totalitarian terror groups”. So you can say, that theese guys, at last, brought the “revolution” into theese “totalitarian dictatorships”, which are full supported of whom ? Yes, everybody knows, for economic purposes, supported, directly from CIA, MI5, with all torture cellars, like the support of thousands of “worst dictators” like Idi Amin, Botha, Ben Ali, Mubbarack, Pinochet, Peron, Franco, and so on and so on. How long will this “liars” play their “stupid and primitive” role, every silly idiot now knows, the reality about the US Secret Services and the totalitarian “billionäres” clubbers. So this court is in fact a “lie” and this everybody stupid idot can at once realize that. This is a farce, cause this at last then is the same, like the “Walter Gröger” case in “Nazi Germany”, which shall be a “example” for the behavior of the US gouvernement. So i say, before the whole US Army, looses its reputation, let Bradley Manning be free, and show, what he realy is, a man who, together with many others like snowden, is a very fine democrat, with the possibillities, to cancel this war, which was in fact, made in USA. That there today are not “much more terror groups” and that there today is “no war” directly in USA, and that there had been a way out of the “war crimes” attack on irak, and that this all now is “over”, this is to thank, Bradley Manning, which was a way out of this desaster, like Daniel Ellesberg, showed the way out of “vietnam”. So at last the US people have to thank Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and much others, which risked their lives, that now in USA, there is peace, and that not much more soldiers must loose their lives and families. Think about that, and let Bradley Manning go free. Otherwhile, at last the truth will come out, more and more, step by step, and this will be the developement, which your “criminal” court, have to fear, mostly and strongest.

  3. Oh, sorry i forgot, the core of this case. The core of this case is “war criminals accused of torture and crimes against humanity”, sitting in a court and, judge over a “witness” of theese “war crimes”. This will be the “way” now, where the medial international shall go and this way will be done !

    • Justice:

      Thanks for a view into modern history and background of the parties involved in the US wars and practices over which Bradley attempted to raise questions.

      We understand indeed that the rationales for recent wars were based upon direct lies by the US government (Specifically during the George W. Bush administration) to the legislative congress sitting at the time, to the media, to the people of the USA, and to the world.

      It is further exposed and unfortunate that following elected public servants (the military is also supposedly active in service to the public, but in fact is a tool of whatever individuals in power of administration at the time during which they are in those positions – elected or appointed)chose to continue to use military force, torture, and public falsehood.
      So the Obama administration is also committing international crimes properly termed war crimes, as are the young military individuals enlisting to fight such wars.

      I sincerely hope that justice awaits at Den Haag.

      However, the USA, knowing that it has the world’s largest military, the intelligence agencies most able to penetrate the communications of all the world’s people, and to force falsehood from the most-watched communications media, does not submit to international law.

      The best defense is said to be the best offense, and through manipulation and obfuscation (you even see above that military law is required to be biased toward guilty verdicts) the US government is able to confuse most of its citizens into going along with leaders’ decisions.

      These decisions are made in favor of the largest economic supporters. For instance the Bush administration cabinet and advisers were intimately associated with the hugest military contractors; this is the nature of US government.

      So long as the US has superpower status, it will be able to refuse international oversight or law, it will be able to ignore human rights while claiming that it is in some way championing them.

      With its control over the beliefs of its citizens, those who question are marginalized, become social outcastes to a great extent (look at how Kerry, initially a blind follower, first became a critic of the atrocious Viet Nam war, but then had to segue back into blind follower, in order to achieve political power. He was brilliant in his chameleon changes, unlike the truly principled).

      As a former prisoner for the crime of refusing to be enslaved, I can tell you that everyone who disagrees with US power policy is marginalized.

      The fallacy of believing that those in power will receive justice, of believing that justice can overcome the naturally cruel who seek and gain power has been largely shown to be false by history. Hitler and Mussolini are rare exceptions.

      You will have seen that the largest nations have evaded directly challenging any which could defeat them. THIS is why individuals in power will not experience justice. Stalin did not make that mistake, Cheney, Bush, Obama, have not made that mistake. China’s ruling cabal have not. Putin, a former KGB administrator, would never make such a mistake.

      Principles, ethics, morality are left to the powerless, and most likely secretly hilarious to those who seek and gain power.

  4. The New York Times put out an article on today’s trial session that is shocking incorrect reporting, implying (or do they actually just say it outright?) that the judge reached a verdict on the merits of the prosecution’s case.

    It’s really weird, the Times legal reporting is usually good.

    I wrote a letter to the editor, but someone from the Support Network should too, you’ll probably write a better more accurate letter, and have more of a chance of getting it published and/or getting a correction.


  5. One of the Major Moral Questions is to what extent does the public’s right to know transcend the need for secrecy in the time of another ill-founded, illegal and immoral war.

    As a medic stationed at For Meade during Vietnam War, I suspected the immorality of that war in Boot Camp at Fort Ord , California in the spring of 1963.

    When the Buddhists sacriced themselves in Saigon and S. Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem was assassinated by his own army shortly thereafter, I had all the information that I needed to know that we should not have interfered in the Vietnamese War for Independence.

    Unfortunately, I was not in a position to do what Bradley Manning did.

    I pray that moral responsibility will prevail over legal techicalities in the determination of this case.

    Democracy requires debate, dialogue and discussion based upon information; all of which are sadly lacking today even at the highest levels.

  6. “Prosecutors contended that that fact showed Manning knew what a legitimate news organization was, allowing the court to infer that WikiLeaks by contrast was illegitimate.”

    “America has no functioning democracy at this moment”–former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.

    Doesn’t that call into question the legitimacy of the U.S. gov?

    Legitimacy is based on the size of your bombs.

    Right, never mind, carry on then.

  7. So sad the judge think such an empty statement

    — the prosecution established that in his training as an intelligence analyst, Manning learned that the enemy uses the Internet to attempt to obtain classified information and to keep such information secret — is valid.

    I can also say that Manning’s training as an intelligence analyst allowed him to pick up the over-classified information but also avoid letting the crucial information to be obtained by enemy which is actually true or closer to the reality.
    Intentionally they cannot prove Manning want to aid enemies and in reality, there’s no evidence that those leaked information allow those so called enemies to have advantages over US troops. It’s hard to believe that people use their brain would accept the prosecutor’s arguments on “aiding the enemy”.

    I am sick of this judge. From the beginning, the judge excluded the discussion on the motivation on most of the charges, which imply the assumption in this court is that the US military actions were all just, which already put Manning in a really disadvantage position, and from this, I can tell that all these court processes are just a game or a play.

    Few weeks ago, a murderer(soldier) was released from prison because of the appeal court said that the soldier’s right to reach a lawyer or legal advise was invaded and the process for obtaining evidences were unjust. While in Manning’s case, his rights were continuously being invaded but the judge said it’s fine. What else can I say?

  8. Id like the prosecution to define *WHO* the *ENEMY* is exactly and can they call them to the stand and have the ENEMY testify?

  9. We don’t know yet what is the final price Manning will have to pay, but he has already accomplished much of what he set out to do. He has brought the attention of the whole world to the unjust, cruel crimes of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    There are a great many intelligent, moral, upright people in the U.S. Look at the very large number of U.S. soldiers who have committed suicide because they couldn’t live with the knowledge of the crimes and injustice they were involved in. Look at Pat Tillman who was murdered because of his conscience and his statements about the illegality of what the U.S. military was/is doing.

    Whatever happens in the future, Manning, Assange, Snowden, and others have been successful in what they set out to do and we are deeply indebted to them for that.

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