Confidant turned informant – Day 5 of accused Wiki-Leaker hearing
December 20th, 2011
09:27 PM ET

Confidant turned informant – Day 5 of accused Wiki-Leaker hearing

By Larry Shaughnessy covering the military hearing at Ft. Meade, MD

9:24 update – IM'ing with Bradass87

A convicted computer hacker from California testified Tuesday in Pfc. Bradley Manning's preliminary hearing about six days of chats he conducted with someone who claimed to have leaked classified information and was "looking to brag about what they had done." (See the rest of our Bradley Manning coverage here)

Adrian Lamo said he traded instant messages in a chat format with someone self-identified as Bradass87. Lamo testified that based on an e-mail he received from Manning, as well as an examination of Manning's Facebook page, that Bradass87 was Manning.

Army Criminal Investigation Command Special Agent David Shaver later testified that the chat logs that Lamo provided to the Army largely matched chat logs found on Manning's computer in Iraq.

The prosecution did not ask Lamo any specific questions about the chats themselves, but did establish that he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and takes medication for it. At one point he admitted overusing his medication to the point that his parents became concerned and he eventually was put in an involuntary psychiatric hold for three days.

The only possible signs of his medical condition evident in court was his often halting speech and his unusual turn of a phrase. For example, when the prosecutor swore him in and then said "you make take your seat," Lamo responded, "That I shall."

When the defense cross-examined Lamo, he read portions of the chat logs that seemed to indicate that he was not being completely forthcoming with Manning about why he wanted to know details about the leaks.

At one point Lamo wrote, "I'm a journalist and a minister. You can pick either, and treat this as a confession or an interview (never to be published) & enjoy a modicum of legal protection." But Lamo, within a month, had given the chat logs to both Army investigators and Wired magazine.

Before Lamo took the stand, another Army Criminal Investigation Command special agent, Antonio Edwards, testified that Lamo was a confidential informant for the command but was not paid for information. He was reimbursed for normal expenses.

At one point Manning's lead attorney, David Coombs, implied Lamo was asking Manning questions to get him to reveal how he planned to release classified information.

Coombs asked Lamo why he wanted to know, and Lamo replied that he "asked out of curiosity, I am a curious individual. Which has been amply evidenced by my actions."

Because of Lamo's habit of answering yes or no questions with long responses, the cross-examination sometimes got contentious, but not to the point of anyone getting angry or raising their voice.

Near the end, Coombs had to repeatedly ask a question regarding why someone might want to communicate with a minister. Finally both the investigating officer and the prosecutor made suggestions about how Coombs might better phrase the question. It worked. Lamo answered without further problems.

By 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, the prosecution said it was finished presenting witnesses. Coombs plans to call three witnesses starting Wednesday morning.

3:14p Update – Confidant turned informant testifies

The former hacker who served as a confidential informant to the Army about Pfc. Bradley Manning's leaking of classified documents took the stand in Manning's preliminary hearing Tuesday. (See the rest of our Bradley Manning coverage here)

Adrian Lamo testified that he traded e-mails and instant messages with someone identifying themselves as Bradass87, which he believes was the online name used by Manning.

The testimony came on the fourth day of the preliminary hearing, which will determine if Manning proceeds to a full military court martial.

Manning is accused of stealing and leaking more than a quarter of a million classified documents from the State Department and the Defense Department to the WikiLeaks website, the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history.

Prior to Lamo's appearance, Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent Antonio Edwards told the military hearing that Lamo served as an informant for the Army from 2010 to last summer, and was not paid for his work, although he was reimbursed for expenses.

When Lamo was asked why he was testifying if he wasn't promised immunity, he responded that he was there "to assure that the truth is presented."

Mark Johnson, a contractor for the Army who testified Monday, said he examined Manning's personal Apple laptop computer, which was seized from his living quarters in Iraq.

Among the files found on that computer were records of an Internet chat with Lamo. One of the chat logs contained references to video of a deadly 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Iraq.

That video was leaked in edited form by WikiLeaks.

1:38p Update – Fits of rage
Before going into a closed session, Jihrleah Showman testified that while she was his team leader at Ft. Drum, New York, prior to Manning's deployment to Iraq, he was late one morning for the physical training (PT) formation.  A short time later, as she escorted the private to PT, he saw Master Sgt. Paul Adkins, the senior enlisted man in Manning's unit.  At that time, Showman testified, Manning, who had been very quiet, flew into a screaming fit and flailed his arms violently.

After that, she required Manning to contact the Army's behavioral health office and she told Adkins that she felt Manning was a threat to himself and others, that he shouldn't be handling classified information and shouldn't be deployed to Iraq. (See the rest of our Bradley Manning coverage here)

Adkins was called to testify earlier in the hearing, but refused, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights.

If convicted on all counts, he could face the death penalty. However, Army prosecutors have signaled they will not recommend death in the event of a conviction, and it is unlikely they would be overruled by a senior officer.

Showman testified about another incident in late 2009 or early 2010, after the unit had deployed to Iraq. Manning was speaking with Sgt. Daniel Padgett at a table, she said, when suddenly Manning started screaming and flipped the table over, knocking a computer to the floor.

Then, she said, Manning looked around and seemed to notice an M-4 assault rifle against a wall.

Showman said he appeared to be moving toward the rifle, but was grabbed by another soldier and placed in a chair.

Showman said she told Adkins that Manning didn't belong in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) but he was not reassigned.

About five months after the table incident, Showman found Manning laying in a fetal position on a conference room floor. She told the soldier who subdued Manning in the earlier outburst to "be ready for something to happen again," she testified.

A few hours later, in the middle of the night when Showman was asleep, she was called back to the SCIF and at some point, she said, Manning punched her. She got up and pinned him to the ground, she said, with Manning saying, "I'm tired of this, I'm tired of this."

The next day, Manning was reassigned and moved to a job in a supply room.

Before the session was closed, the prosecution also questioned Staff Sgt. Peter Bigelow, who ran the supply room.  When asked about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, he asked, "Who?" When pressed, he replied, "I don't even know who that is."

The next witness, an Army cybercrimes investigator, Spec. Agent Alfred Williamson, said he examined a computer in the supply room and found evidence that someone using Bigelow's user profile had searched for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.  Williamson said that computer was not password protected.

10:30a – 'He had punched me in the face'
The first witness of the day is Ms. Jihrleah Showman, former US Army Specialist, testifying by phone from Italy.

She was accused leaker Bradley Manning's team leader for a time in Iraq.  She is now a civilian.

Showman testified that Bradley was removed from the intelligence office where he worked on secure computers because "he had punched me in the face unprovoked and displayed an uncontrollable behavior that was deemed untrustworthy at the time."

After about 10 minutes of questioning by the prosecutors, the defense asked that the hearing be closed so they could go into closed session for the defense's cross examination. This closure was not due to any classified information that would be discussed. It may be that defense does not want her testimony in this hearing to be made public out of fear it could prejudice the panel (the jury) in any court martial. They had argued earlier the whole Article 32 should be closed for that reason.

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Filed under: Bradley Manning • WikiLeaks
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