It was an eventful day at the fourth hearing of alleged WikiLeaker PFC Bradley Manning in Ft. Meade, Maryland Monday. Military prosecutors are attempting to court martial the former military analyst on 22 charges of violating military law in relation to his alleged disclosure of hundreds of thousands of secret government documents.
Manning's defense caught a potential break during the cross-examination of a Special Agent David Shaver, a forensic investigator with the Computer Crimes Investigations Unit. On Sunday, Shaver testified that he found 10,000 U.S. cables on Manning's computer. But in today's cross-examination Shaver said none of those cables matched the cables that WikiLeaks published. "If the cables found on Manning's computer don't match the ones WikiLeaks has, the defense can argue that Julian Assange's outfit may have had a different source for the documents," observes The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal, saying it could become a "lynchpin of the defense's case."
One of the bigger revelations prosecutors unveiled was a chat discussion between Manning and a user identified as "Julian Assange" on Manning's computer, reports Wired's Kim Zetter. For those who are curious, Assange's handle was "dawgnetwork" while Manning's password was "TWink1492." (We're not sure what the numbers signify other than the year Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but the word is a slur for a young gay man.) Specifics on the nature of the conversations were slim. More importantly, in one of the chats Manning had with a photographer, he confesses to leaking the famous Apache helicopter video which shows the death of two Reuters employees:
Manning: Are you familiar with WikiLeaks?
Schmiedl: Yea, I am
Manning: I’m the one who released the video
Bringing Assange closer to the case, one of the files found on Manning included contact information for Assange and instructions on uploading data to WikiLeaks, reports The Guardian. That's important because anything connecting Assange and Manning will be critical to the potential prosecution of Assange, notes the newspaper. "One of the huge questions surrounding Manning's prosecution is whether he could have done what he is accused of having done – downloaded the largest leak of state secrets in American history – without the help of go-betweens connecting him with Julian Assange."
In today's most unexpected development, famous whistleblower and transparency activist Daniel Ellsberg showed up at the trial and was escorted out after trying to speak to Manning during the hearing. CNN reports:
Ellsberg is of course famous for leaking secrets about the Vietnam War and has compared himself to Manning on a number of occasions. "I wanted to tell him I was here, that one of his supporters was here," Ellsberg said later in the day. "I didn't know the rules. It was my first day."