Court rejects petition from WikiLeaks, Julian Assange

January 12, 2012

Politico on January 11, 2012 released the following:

“By JOSH GERSTEIN

The U.S. military’s highest appeals court has rejected a petition by WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange to give their lawyers guaranteed access to the Army’s legal proceedings against the Army intelligence analyst accused of leaking thousands of military reports and diplomatic cables, Pfc. Bradley Manning.

WikiLeaks and Assange argued they deserved a permanent seat at the recent investigative hearing in Manning’s case because of an ongoing criminal investigation targeting Assange and his global transparency website. They also made the unusual request to have a lawyer with security clearance sit on classified sessions the public is excluded from.

However, in an order Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces denied the petition without comment. The only further review would be at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The WikiLeaks/Assange plea was previously rejected by the officer overseeing Manning’s hearing and by an intermediate appeals court, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. Military prosecutors said there was no basis for according special status just because Assange might be charged in the future. In addition, they noted that in practice the lawyers for Assange and his outfit had been able to gain access to general public seating in the courtroom at Fort Meade, Md.

Manning’s weeklong preliminary hearing, known as an Article 32 session, wrapped up last month, so it could be that the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces considered the issue moot. However, the court didn’t say the petition was denied as moot. In any event, the same issues could arise again if, as expected, Manning’s case is sent to a full, formal court martial.

“We are disappointed by the ruling, but like much of the Manning proceedings themselves, this decision is inscrutable,” said Baher Azmy of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brough the petition for Assange and WikiLeaks. “The court offers no analysis whatsoever for its ruling, so as much as we strongly disagree with the judgment, we literally cannot understand — or respond to — the reason(s) apparently underlying it.””

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Alleged Wiki-leaker day 4: searching Manning’s computers

December 19, 2011

CNN on December 19, 2011 released the following:

“By Larry Shaughnessy covering the hearing in Ft. Meade, MD

11:36a update

A cybercrimes investigator continued his testimony of his examination computers that PFC Bradley Manning had access to in Iraq.

Spec. Agent David Shaver, with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) said he examined Manning’s secondary computer where he worked as an intelligence analyst. Shaver found more 100,000 full State Department cables on the secondary computer as well as software that would allow a user to copy data to a writable CD.

But during question by Manning’s attorney, Shaver admitted that could not say that it was Manning who accessed the cable. He also found no evidence that this information was sent to anyone. Shaver was not asked if he compared any of the cables on Manning’s secondary computer with the diplomatic cables released on WikiLeaks.

After Shaver’s testimony, Manning’s roommate from Iraq took the stand. Spec Eric Baker, who was with the military police in Manning’s company, testified that he and Manning were not close and rarely spoke. But Baker said Manning told him he “he probably planned on getting out of the military.”

Baker also said Manning was a frequent user of his personal laptop in their quarters. “He used the computer quite often, between chow times. When I’d wake up in the middle of the night, he’d be on the computer,” Baker said.

Shortly after another cybercrimes began testimony, court recessed for a conference among the lawyers and the presiding officer and then took lunch.

10:55a update

Testimony resumed Monday in the Article 32 hearing of PFC Bradley Manning as the defense cross examined an Army computer expert about files found on a computer linked to Manning. (highlights from the weekend coverage here)

Spec. Agent David Shaver, with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) said that a search of military computers Manning used in Iraq revealed he had downloaded the same secret documents and videos that were released online by the website WikiLeaks.

Shaver was asked if he compared any of the 10,000 diplomatic cables found on a secure computer to the 250,000 diplomatic files on WikiLeaks. He said those he compared did not match, but he did not say how many of the files he compared.

He also said the 10,000 were in a computer file that was corrupted, and it would have been difficult if not impossible to open those files without sophisticated computer tools.

Shortly after that testimony, the court went into closed session so Shaver could testify about classified matters.

The news media and general public are forbidden from witnessing classified testimony.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


US set to try soldier Pfc. Bradley Manning, over leaks, targets Assange

December 15, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on December 15, 2011 released the following:

“By RAPHAEL G. SATTER
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — As the suspected source for the biggest intelligence leak in American history faces his first hearing Friday, U.S. prosecutors have their eye on another prize: the man who disclosed the documents to the world.

When WikiLeaks’ spectacular disclosures of U.S. secrets exploded onto the scene last year, much of Washington’s anger coalesced around Julian Assange, the silver-haired globe-trotting figure whose outspoken defiance of the Pentagon and the State Department riled politicians on both sides of the aisle. Pfc. Bradley Manning, long under lock and key, hasn’t attracted the same level of ire.

The pair’s fates have been intertwined, however, even if the Australian-born computer hacker says he didn’t know the private’s name until after news of his arrest emerged in June 2010. Manning’s alleged disclosures put Assange at the epicenter of a diplomatic earthquake.

Assange in turn has worked energetically to drum up support for the imprisoned soldier – all while emphasizing that the way his anti-secrecy site was set up meant he could not be sure if Manning was his source.

U.S. investigators have been scrutinizing links between the two as they explore the possibility of charging the Australian with serious crimes under U.S. law. A Virginia grand jury is studying evidence that might link Assange to Manning, but no action has yet been taken.

In chat logs recorded by Adrian Lamo, the hacker who turned Manning in, the 23-year-old private allegedly poured his heart out, laying bare his disillusionment with the military and his decision to ship mountains of classified material to Assange. In the logs – which the military says are genuine – Manning tells Lamo that he’d “developed a relationship with Assange” and hinted at instant messages swapped via a server maintained by the Germany-based Chaos Computer Club.

But even according to the logs, Manning and Assange do not seem to have learned very much about each other. “He won(‘)t work with you if you reveal too much about yourself,” Manning is quoted as having said.

At least one media report suggested that prosecutors have struggled without success to flesh out the purported links between the pair. NBC News, citing unnamed military sources, said earlier this year that officials had turned up no evidence of direct contact between Assange and Manning.

In any case prosecutors face formidable obstacles. Experts say that a prosecution under the century-old Espionage Act would risk criminalizing practically any form of investigative journalism. A conspiracy charge, which some have floated as an alternative, would also be tough to prove.

“If Manning steals a bunch of information, and gives it to Julian Assange, I think that would be very difficult to show that that was a conspiracy,” said Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute. Even if it turns out that Assange had, hypothetically, pushed Manning to divulge the documents, Wittes said it would still be hard to distinguish that from a traditional reporter trying to work a source.

“Is that any different in principle from the relationship between Deep Throat and Bob Woodward?” he asked, referring to the source behind the Watergate scandal and one of the reporters, Woodward, who broke the story.

Inquiries into Assange and WikiLeaks are ongoing. The grand jury has been investigating for more than year and could continue for months or even years longer. Witnesses have been called, though the identities of most are unknown.

A Manning supporter, David House, refused to testify when he was called in June, citing his right against self-incrimination. House said nearly all the questions posed to him centered on Manning. He said he was not asked about Assange.

There remains pressure to haul the Australian before an American judge.

Both Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich described Assange as an information-age terrorist, with Gingrich saying that Assange should be “treated as an enemy combatant.” Others have been even more explicit, with pundits including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin calling on American officials to hunt him down.

The bloodthirsty rhetoric may have receded since last year, but the otherwise deeply divided U.S. political establishment remains nearly unanimous in its hostility to Assange.

“At a time when the political parties are polarized, WikiLeaks succeeded in uniting them,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.

No matter what happens at Manning’s court martial, Assange faces a host of other legal and financial problems.

His WikiLeaks website operation is running out of money and could close by next month. The British Supreme Court could rule on whether to extradite him to Sweden, where he is wanted on sex crimes allegations, as early as next week.

He has spent the last year fighting extraditon from a wealthy supporter’s country estate in southeastern England, where he lives under virtual house arrest.”

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.