Army Arrested Manning Based on Unconfirmed Chat Logs

FT. MEADE, Maryland – The military arrested alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning last year in Iraq based in large part on unconfirmed information that former hacker Adrian Lamo had gleaned from his chats with Manning, according to the government’s first witness in Manning’s hearing.

Special Agent Toni Graham, an investigator with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division and the first witness called on Saturday, testified that she relied on information provided by Lamo, identified in court only as a confidential informant, that a video of an Army helicopter attack that Manning allegedly gave to WikiLeaks and that WikiLeaks published in April 2010 was a classified video.

Graham said she did not verify this was true before submitting an affidavit that was the basis for ordering Manning into confinement that lasted more than a year and a half before this week’s hearing.

Manning, who turned 24 Saturday, is charged with 22 violations of military law and faces possible life imprisonment. Manning, who at the time was an Army intelligence analyst, is accused of abusing his access to classified computer systems to leak diplomatic cables, Iraq and Afghanistan action reports and the so-called Collateral Murder video to WikiLeaks. In chat logs published by Wired, Manning allegedly told Lamo that he leaked the documents as an act of political protest against a corrupt system and the he snuck files out of a shared workroom using rewritable CDs labeled with pop stars names, such as Lady Gaga.

Saturday is the second day of Manning’s Article 32 hearing, which is expected to last into next week. The government will lay out some of its evidence against Manning in the hearing, somewhat akin to a civilian grand jury. After the hearing ends, a military officer will decide which charges, if any, will be brought against Manning in a court martial.

Asked by defense attorney Maj. Matthew Kemkes if she was aware that the video was in fact unclassified, Graham responded that she did not know this at the time. She also told the court that the FBI had vouched for the integrity of Lamo, who provided the information that she included in the affidavit that was the basis for placing Manning in pre-trial confinement.

The only information from Lamo that investigators verified before Graham wrote the affidavit was Manning’s background and role in the military, which Graham said investigators verified through a military background check and through an examination of Manning’s Facebook profile.