Manning Prosecution: I Don’t Think the Government’s Report Says What It Claims It Does

Kevin Gosztola reports that the government plans to use a document Bradley Manning is alleged to have accessed as part of its proof that he knew he’d be leaking any further information to al Qaeda and other enemies by leaking it to WikiLeaks.

Morrow revealed a new aspect of the case against Manning, namely that they believed because Manning had accessed an Army intelligence report on the “threat” posed by WikiLeaks he would have known that WikiLeaks was valuable to the nation’s enemies. It is an argument that essentially uses his decision to access the report against him.(Keep in mind the government maintains he should never have read this report.)

The report itself is actually ambiguous about whether or not our adversaries were using WikiLeaked data. It both presents it as a possibility that we didn’t currently have intelligence on, then presumes it.

(S//NF) Will the Web site be used by FISS, foreign military services, foreign insurgents, or terrorist groups to collect sensitive or classified US Army information posted to the Web site?
(S//NF) Will the Web site be used by FISS, foreign military services, or foreign terrorist groups to spread propaganda, misinformation, or disinformation or to conduct perception or influence operations to discredit the US Army?
(S//NF) It must be presumed that has or will receive sensitive or classified DoD documents in the future. This information will be published and analyzed over time by a variety of personnel and organizations with the goal of influencing US policy. In addition, it must also be presumed that foreign adversaries will review and assess any DoD sensitive or classified information posted to the Web site. [my emphasis]

But I’m more interested in three other things Manning would have learned from that document. First, he’d have learned from this paragraph that the way to make sure someone didn’t fulfill his “obligation to expose alleged wrongdoing within DoD through inappropriate venues” is not training about the appropriate venues to expose DOD wrongdoing, but via better info security — that is, by ensuring that alleged wrongdoing remains secret.

(U//FOUO) The unauthorized release of DoD information to highlights the need for strong counterintelligence, antiterrorism, force protection, information assurance, INFOSEC, and OPSEC programs to train Army personnel on the proper procedures for protecting sensitive or classified information, to understand the insider threat, and to report suspicious activities. In addition, personnel need to know proper procedures for reporting the loss, theft, or comprise of hard or soft copy documents with sensitive information or classified information to the appropriate unit, law enforcement, or counterintelligence personnel. Unfortunately, such programs will not deter insiders from following what they believe is their obligation to expose alleged wrongdoing within DoD through inappropriate venues. Persons engaged in such activity already know how to properly handle and secure sensitive or classified information from these various security and education programs and has chosen to flout them.

And of course, the INFOSEC DIA believed was the answer to potential exposure of alleged wrongdoing is precisely the INFOSEC that the Army had failed to achieve 18-24 months later, when Manning was leaking this material, the INFOSEC DOD refused to implement even after a real adversary had inserted malware into our computers in Iraq via use of removable media, the same means Manning used to get this information.

If this document is proof Manning should have known (the conflicting statements notwithstanding) that leaking to WikiLeaks would amount to leaking to our adversaries, it’s also proof that DOD knew they had an INFOSEC problem that might lead to leaked information, one they pointedly didn’t address.

But I’m also amused by one of the case studies in the danger of leaked WikiLeaks information: that it might be used to suggest DOD is getting gouged by our contractors working on JIEDDO, our counter-IED program.

(S//NF) The author of the above-mentioned article incorrectly interprets the leaked data regarding the components and fielding of the Warlock system, resulting in unsupportable and faulty conclusions to allege war profiteering, price gouging and increased revenues by DoD contractors involved in counter-IED development efforts.

Mind you, the claim that JIEDDO contractors were robbing us blind is a conclusion shared by some very respected defense reporters.

Launched in February 2006 with an urgent goal — to save U.S. soldiers from being killed by roadside bombs in Iraq — a small Pentagon agency ballooned into a bureaucratic giant fueled by that flourishing arm of the defense establishment: private contractors.

An examination by the Center for Public Integrity and McClatchy of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization revealed an agency so dominated by contractors that the ratio of contractors to government employees has reached six to one.

As well as by GAO itself.

In other words, while this internal report claimed WikiLeaks inaccurately concluded that JIEDDO was a boondoggle, in fact WikiLeaks’ conclusion might have been one of the earliest indications of a problem later confirmed by other outlets, that JIEDDO was a boondoggle.

Even by 2009, Manning might have read this document and concluded that WikiLeaks had served precisely the outcome it claimed, exposing wrongdoing.

Finally, check out some of these classification marks, including the questions about whether or not our adversaries might exploit publicly available information bolded above. Not conclusions, mind you, but questions (intelligence gaps, really).

That’s a secret we have to keep from our allies? Really?

No. It’s not. It’s an example of rampant overclassification.

To sum up: not only doesn’t this report assert that leaking to WikiLeaks amounts to leaking to our adversaries; on the contrary, the report identifies that possibility as a data gap. But it also provides several pieces of support for the necessity of something like WikiLeaks to report government wrongdoing.

Update: Swapped in Gosztola’s corrected post on CIA/Army Intel document.

16 replies
  1. peasantparty says:


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  2. Ben Franklin says:

    “The report itself is actually ambiguous about whether or not our adversaries were using WikiLeaked data.”

    Why are they so focused on proving his ‘intent’ when they can go for ‘reckless disregard’, marcy?

    Could it be the run-up to the Iraq war and potential future blow-back, I mean, with a new Administration?

  3. joanneleon says:

    It just seems like the lead up to prosecuting Assange too. That would mean collusion between the military prosecution team and the Assange prosecution team, and that’s a big accusation, I realize. But that is what this looks like and since one of their big claims is that he was following the direction of Assange, and since members of the Assange grand jury team have been identified at hearings, it doesn’t seem too big of an assumption.

  4. john francis lee says:

    Anyone who has looked into the history of the CIA at all has concluded that anything coming from the CIA is certainly not ‘the truth’. The CIA lies for a living. The idea that an intelligence analyst would take any pronouncement of the CIA at face value is absurd. In fact, presuming the opposite would be a more prudent stategy over time.

    The prosecution is attempting to use CIA propaganda to establish that

    1) wikileaks and by extension all leakers are ‘aiding the enemy’, and
    2) Bradley Manning’s leak to wikileaks therefore aided the enemy.

    It is clear that shooting Bradley Manning is like shooting a fish in a barrel to them, in a military court. This is a show trial as far as the heroic Bradley Manning and all of us are concerned.

    They are trying to use this show trial as a trampoline to criminalize ‘leaking’, and via Holder and the DoJ they are establishing that ‘unapproved’ reportage is ‘leaking’.

    Could any of you have predicted even the possibiity of this before 9/11 and the onset of the New American Century ?

    We’re toast … if we do not stop them. And it’s getting harder to do that everyday. The US government in defying our constitution has become text-book illegitimate and the naked emperor must be confronted on that basis.

  5. bell says:

    well, if the usa gov’t whether via the cia or military want to lie and hide war crimes, what is to prevent them from lying and throwing out false information to get rid of a whistle-blower? it’s like trying to pin something on the mafia, in this case the usa representative and even more powerful then the mafia..

  6. thatvisionthing says:

    Plus, this is cool. What Murray said sounded like something I remember Assange saying once, about how in the US govt’s own words the danger it identified was not leakers but whistleblowers. I remembered quoting it way back in a comment, went looking for it, found it — and I think he was talking about this very report (“document” link on line 1)!

    The old comment is here:

    The full-court press isn’t on leakers, it’s on whistleblowers, per the US Army in 2008. A point Assange made in his interview on Democracy Now:

    AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange, in a memo, a US government secret memo that WikiLeaks posted in March, marked “unauthorized disclosure subject to criminal sanctions,” it concludes, quote, “‘ represents…in plain English, a threat to Army operations and information.” Can you respond to this?

    JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah. This was a 2008 counterintelligence analysis of us by the US Army…. It goes on to explain examples of why we maybe should be attacked. And those examples are examples which have embarrassed the US military, revelations of abuses at Guantanamo Bay, abuses in Fallujah, and potentially illegal use of small chemical weapons in Iraq. Now, it says that one of the ways of attacking that center of gravity is by publicly prosecuting whistleblowers. It even uses that word, “whistleblower,” not US military personnel or other personnel who are engaging in irresponsible leaking, but rather whistleblowers, people who are blowing the whistle on abuse.

    Plus, heart swells! It’s in a thread with comments by Mary! Oh the good it does me to see what she said. @44 and @62 jump out to me at random. – on US kidnapping Assange – on choosing between Bush and Obama

    h/t Mary


  7. orionATL says:

    not that it matters, but there can be no reason whstsoever for charging manning with “aiding the enemy” if the enemy is al-quaida.

    manning operated in the iraq “theatre” of war.

    al-quaida was an operational force in iraq, if ever, only long after the american invasion and occupation of iraq, AND ONLY as a consequence of that invasion and o cupation.

    there was no “al-quaida enemy” for an american soldier assigned to support the iraq invasion and occupation, as manning had been, to aid.

    on a different tact entirely, ew at this weblog has repeatedly demonstrated how unprotected dod computer systems were

    and, far more important for manning’s case, how indifferent – for a very long time continuing into the future

    – the dod has continued to be.

    even in the knowledge of extensive chinese spying on dod contractors and in the knowledge of manning’s release of STATE department cables and documents.

    manning’s real crime from a DOD political perspective was, i am sure, the release of the apache helicopter video demonstrating casual murder by americansfrom, a mile and a half away and up in the sky, of non-soldiers.

    remind you of anything???

    think drones.

  8. Michael Murry says:

    If keeping secret the crimes and incompetence of the U.S. government makes democracy impossible and the failure of America inevitable, then wouldn’t the “enemies” of America want more of this self-defeating secrecy, not less?

  9. emptywheel says:

    @john francis lee: I could be wrong, but I think Kevin linked to the wrong document, a CIA red team document rather than an Army Counterintelligence one. If that’s right, then it’s not a CIA document at all.

    The two CIA documents charged pertain to support for Afghan campaign and US exporting terrorism.

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