FORT MEADE, Md. (CN) – Witness testimony concluded this morning (Wednesday) in a hearing to determine whether Pfc. Bradley Manning will face court-martial for allegedly sharing classified data with Wikileaks, charges supported by a convicted hacker who testified for the government.
Adrian Lamo, 30, told the court Tuesday that Manning confessed to leaking hundreds of thousands of top-secret documents in an encrypted chat under the handle Bradass87.
Though defense counsel called them “alleged chats,” Lamo said the handle Bradass87 appeared on his Facebook page with his photographs and biographical information.
By sharing the chat logs with law enforcement and Wired Magazine, Lamo sparked an investigation that led to Manning’s arrest in May 2010 for allegedly “aiding the enemy,” stealing records and other charges. Manning spent several months in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps Brig at Quantico, Va., before being moved to a medium-security facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Lamo told The Guardian that the decision to inform was “thrust” upon him, but the hacker sang a different tune at court on Tuesday.
“What I saw in the chats appeared to be an admission of acts so egregious that it required that response,” Lamo said, adding that he wanted “to assure that the truth is presented.”
Manning’s attorney David Coombs seemed skeptical when Lamo said he started his Manning probe out of “curiosity.”
“You’re asking all this out of your curiosity, not because you’re working with law enforcement?” Coombs asked.
Lamo explained, “Context is necessary to establish my curiosity.”
In 2003, Lamo pleaded guilty to consumer fraud, was sentenced to six months of house arrest, and started abusing prescription drugs to cope with depression. Lamo was eventually institutionalized on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, which was extended by nine days.
He told the court that his mental state devolved into full-blown Asperger’s syndrome, a condition marked by difficulty relating with others.
“I have been diagnosed thus,” Lamo said.
He said he was not paid or offered immunity for his cooperation against Manning.
Lamo characterized his alleged chat with Manning “as a confession,” in Lamo’s capacity as a self-professed journalist and a minister for the Universal Life Church.
Hearing Explores Manning’s Emotional Turmoil
Wikileaks has divided its trove of confidential documents into several categories: “Cablegate” for diplomatic cables; Iraq and Afghanistan incident reports belong to a section called “War Diaries;” and “Collateral Murder” is the title of a video of a July 12, 2007, Baghdad airstrike that killed eight people, including two Reuters photographers.
Prosecutors had one of Manning’s letters read into the record on Monday. It stated: “This is perhaps one of the most significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st Century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day.”
During witness testimony Tuesday, one of Manning’s fellow soldiers told the court that Manning attacked her in Iraq. The alleged incident resulted in Manning being demoted from specialist to private first class. It is known as an Article 15, or nonjudicial punishment, under military law, a military spokesman said.
“He punched me in the face, unprovoked, and displayed uncontrollable behavior that seemed untrustworthy at the time,” said Jihrleah Showman, a former team leader of Manning’s 10th Mountain Division.
Showman said she used to belong to Manning’s unit and left the U.S. Army a little more than four years ago. In July 2007, she said she underwent 35 Foxtrot all-source analyst training, which taught her to handle, disseminate and destroy classified information.
She explained that classification could last as long as a century.
“Nondisclosure agreements say that any classified information must not be disclosed from 80 to 100 years,” Showman said.
“We were also trained on different computer programs,” she said.
Manning’s computer froze up “multiple times,” requiring field software engineer Jason Allen Milliman to fix the system before it crashed, Showman said.
Before cross-examination began, the investigating officer granted a request from Manning’s attorney to close the courtroom for a small part of the proceedings, which he said would protect Manning’s due-process rights.
As he began his questioning, Coombs told Showman, who was testifying by telephone, “I wish you were here in person so we could actually meet.” He has made the same statement to several government witnesses who also could not appear in person.
Showman said that she knocked on Manning’s door and opened it to find him “very quiet.”
“He felt that people were listening to him, or watching his every move,” Showman said.
Believing Manning to be a threat to himself and others, Showman said that she told him that he should not deploy. She added that she was “furious” when she saw that he was on the roster.
Sgt. 1st Class Paul Adkins, who authorized Manning’s deployment, reportedly invoked his right not to testify on Monday.
The government rested its case on Tuesday afternoon.
Defense Witnesses Report Lax Security for Classified Data
Two defense witnesses were questioned for 45 minutes during a brief hearing on Wednesday that closed out the evidence portion of the case.
The first witness, Sgt. Daniel Padgett, testified that “there could have been more oversight” in the Tactical Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (T-SCIF), where the classified information was stored.
When asked if the unit had a “clear chain of command,” Padgett replied, “No, sir.”
Padgett also spoke about Manning’s emotional state, saying he was trying to counsel the soldier when Manning flipped over a table, damaging a computer. Though Manning never made a move toward him or the weapons, Padgett said airmen heard the commotion and put Manning in a full nelson as a precaution.
The company commander never asked him about the incident, Padgett said.
During cross-examination, Padgett told military prosecutors that soldiers were allowed to listen to music and watch movies, as long as they did not use rewriteable discs.
The second witness, Capt. Barclay Keay, used to supervised the night shift in Manning’s unit. He said he had a “skeleton crew” of “three soldiers.”
“I don’t think I ever caught anyone with their hand in the cookie jar, playing video games,” Keay said, characterizing the permissive environment as “kind of odd.”
Though music is no longer permitted, Keay said it had been “kind of tolerated so soldiers could be more productive.”
Asked whether Manning wanted to be a good soldier, Keay paused a moment before answering, “Uh, I felt like he wanted to be a good soldier. My initial impression was, yes, he wanted to try, and he did good analytical work.”
The defense rested after Keay stepped down, and Manning declined to speak on his own behalf.
Summations begin Thursday.
Coombs, Mannning’s lawyer, had initially requested 48 witnesses, but Investigating Officer Paul Almanza allowed only Padgett and Keay. Both men are the only witnesses who overlapped with those the government called.
Lt. Col. Almanza could rule as early as Jan. 16 on whether Manning should face court-martial proceedings. A conviction there of the most serious charges could result in the death penalty, but prosecutors say they would seek a life sentence.