Manning Home Movie Could Come Into Play

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Military prosecutors want jurors to watch a YouTube video starring alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning that earned the young soldier special training about keeping military secrets.
     Manning, 24, is believed to be the source of the biggest leak of sensitive information about U.S. diplomacy and warfare.
     But nearly two years before his arrest, he got into trouble for making an Internet video telling his family about his upcoming deployment to Iraq. In the June 2008 video, he called his duties “secret” and “top secret.”
     While the private first class never faced charges over video, he had to take “corrective training” to teach him the dangers of spilling classified information.
     “The accused certainly had it burned into his memory,” prosecutor Capt. Angel Overgaard said, referring to the training. “Individuals tend to learn from their mistakes best.”
     Prosecutors hope to use a PowerPoint presentation Manning created as a part of this training to argue that he knew that unauthorized disclosures could “aid the enemy,” namely al-Qaida and its affiliates. If convicted on that count, Manning faces a potential life sentence, and the more than 20 other charges add up to more than a century behind bars.
     At the Wednesday hearing, a military defense attorney called the video irrelevant and highly prejudicial.
     “The probative value is so small and the danger of prejudice is so great,” military defense attorney Maj. Thomas Hurley said.
     Hurley urged the military judge, Col. Denise Lind, not to allow the video because he said it could bias the jury without even showing a common motive behind the two alleged acts.
     “These acts are not similar or proximate,” Hurley said, naming one of the “prongs” needed to make the evidence admissible.
     Reserving decision on that question, Judge Lind spent the remainder of the hearing sorting out whether to take “notice” of articles and books written related to the WikiLeaks disclosures.
     “Judicial notice” allows the court to acknowledge the existence of information without endorsing its conclusions.
     Another defense attorney, Capt. Joshua Tooman, asked the court to officially acknowledge that Washington Post journalist David Finkel scooped WikiLeaks on its most famous release: footage of a Baghdad airstrike that killed 12 people, including two Reuters journalists.
     Before WikiLeaks published the video under the title “Collateral Murder,” Finkel had produced a verbatim transcript of it in his book “The Good Soldiers,” Tooman said.
     Another prosecutor, Capt. Joe Morrow, said that the transcript did not prove Finkel saw it.
     “We don’t know what he had access to,” Morrow said.
     The judge said that a word-for-word transcription would seem to indicate that Finkel did.     
     She also considered taking notice of news articles quoting Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton minimizing the fallout of WikiLeaks.
     At a 2010 security summit in Kazakhstan, Clinton said American diplomacy would not suffer from the leak of thousands of sensitive U.S. embassy cables.
     “I have certainly raised the issue of the leaks in order to assure our colleagues that it will not in any way interfere with American diplomacy or our commitment to continuing important work that is ongoing,” Clinton was quoted as saying. “I have not any had any concerns expressed about whether any nation will not continue to work with and discuss matters of importance to us both going forward.”
     Gates said something similar in a November 2010 Pentagon briefing, where he called the leaks “embarrassing” and “awkward,” but of “fairly modest” impact to foreign policy.
     “I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on,” Gates reportedly said. “I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought.”
     An August 2010 letter that Gates sent to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., about the leaks was also quoted in article that will be submitted to the court.
     The defense also hopes to admit a Politico article quoting the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, as having complaining about technical flaws in DCGS-A, a military database. Prosecutors say that Manning misused it by downloading other software, and the defense contends his unit commonly used other programs to surmount glitches that caused it to constantly crash.
     Morrow told the judge not to take stock in the Politico article, which he derisively noted came from “an Internet news site.”
     Tooman replied: “The government seems to be intimating that the news sources aren’t reliable,” without showing evidence the account was wrong.
     Judge Lind will rule on the admissibility of the video and what articles to take notice of as this round of hearings concludes on Thursday.

%d bloggers like this: