By Matthew Hay Brown, The Baltimore Sun
7:42 PM EST, December 20, 2011
A former team leader of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning testified Tuesday that she told superiors on several occasions that Manning should not be allowed to handle classified information or be sent to Iraq, but her warnings apparently went unheeded.
Manning, then an intelligence analyst, deployed with his unit to a base south of Baghdad, where Army prosecutors allege he gave hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks in one of the largest security breaches in U.S. history.
In other testimony Tuesday, a noted computer hacker who was contacted by Manning said the military analyst boasted of "acts so egregious" in their online chats that he felt compelled to contact authorities.
The government concluded its case in a preliminary hearing after four days of testimony at Fort Meade. The defense is expected to present three witnesses beginning Wednesday.
Manning, 24, is charged with aiding the enemy and violating the Espionage Act. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison. The Army convened the Article 32 hearing to help determine whether his case should be referred to court-martial.
Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, the investigating officer presiding over the hearing, will weigh testimony and arguments before making a recommendation to the commander of the Military District of Washington. There is no deadline for Almanza to make his recommendation.
Former Spec. Jihrleah Showman, who was Manning's supervisor, described a succession of outbursts by Manning at their Army base stateside and, later, in Iraq, leading up to a confrontation in which she said Manning "punched me in the face, unprovoked, and displayed an uncontrollable behavior."
At different times, Showman said, she saw Manning "screaming at the top of his lungs, jumping up and down, waving his arms in the air" while "saliva was coming out of his mouth" after missing a required appointment. She also watched him freeze when an officer asked him questions and found him curled in the fetal position on a conference room table.
It was not immediately apparent why prosecutors called Showman to testify. Manning's attorneys have attempted to portray him as a troubled soldier who struggled with gender identity disorder, was isolated from his fellow troops and should not have been allowed access to classified materials — a depiction Showman's testimony appeared to support.
Showman, who testified by telephone from Italy, said she was standing outside a conference room at their base near Baghdad one evening in May 2010 when she heard Manning screaming. As she walked to the doorway, she said, she saw Manning and another soldier on opposite sides of a table.
Showman said she saw Manning stand up and flip the table, causing a computer to fall and break. She said the other soldier held out his arms and attempted to calm Manning down. Then she saw Manning look around the room and spot an M4 rifle in a corner.
Showman said she believed Manning was about to grab the rifle when he was restrained by a warrant officer. It was later that night, Showman said, that Manning punched her. That incident led to his transfer from the intelligence shop to a supply room and his demotion from specialist to private first class.
At the request of Manning's attorneys, Almanza cleared the courtroom in the middle of Showman's testimony to hear a portion in closed session.
Attorney David E. Coombs had expressed concern last week that certain testimony, if made public, could prejudice a future jury against Manning.
Later Tuesday, noted hacker Adrian Lamo described instant messaging exchanges with someone who described himself as a military intelligence analyst in Iraq and went by the screen name "BradAss87."
In transcripts of the chats published by Wired.com, BradAss87 asks: "hypothetical question: if you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time… say, 8-9 months… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do?"
Coombs asked Lamo if be believed BradAss87 was looking for emotional or moral support. Lamo responded that he "did not believe [he was] looking for guidance so much as bragging about what [he] had done."
Lamo said he contacted an acquaintance who had worked in Army counterintelligence for guidance on how to report the chats to law enforcement.
Lamo acknowledged that he had pleaded guilty in 2004 to computer fraud, that he had been involuntarily institutionalized after "overmedicating" himself on prescription drugs and that he had suffered from depression.
Special Agent David Shaver, a computer forensic investigator with the Army, testified that the chat logs found on Lamo's hard drive matched those found on a computer used by Manning.
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