Update: EFF has retracted this post. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Trevor Timm explains a disturbing and overlooked fact about the trial of Bradley Manning; the charge-sheet against him included two separate felonies under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, an ancient anti-hacking statute that has been used as a club to threaten security researchers and activists like Aaron Swartz. The CFAA makes it a separate offense to leak classified information using a computer, such that anyone caught doing so can be charged twice: first under the Espionage Act and again under the CFAA.
This gives tremendous and terrible leverage to prosecutors, who come to the negotiating table with double the ammo: "We'll drop the CFAA charges if you plead guilty to the Espionage Act charges" (or vice-versa). The reality is that there's nothing special about using a computer to leak documents -- indeed, these days you'd be hard pressed not to use a computer -- now that photocopiers, fax machines, phones, cameras and even the daily paper are all built out of computers.
Several Congresses have failed to modernize the CFAA, because the DoJ has forcefully argued that the ability to threaten people with decades in jail for simply using computers has given them the leverage to force "bad guys" to plead guilty, rather than getting a day in court. Read the rest
The sentencing phase in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning is ongoing at Fort Meade, Maryland. On Tuesday, judge Col. Denise R. Lind found the 25-year-old former Army intelligence analyst guilty of 20 of the 22 charges the government brought against him. Manning was convicted on six counts of violating the 1917 Espionage Act. He was found not guilty of the most serious charge, "aiding the enemy," which carried a possible life sentence--but the guilty charges add up to a potential 136 years in prison. The actual sentence he receives is likely to be shorter, according to military law experts.
I've created a Twitter list of reporters who are at Fort Meade in the media operations center, about a quarter-mile away from the closed courtroom where the proceedings are taking place. Absolutely no laptops, phones, or other communication devices allowed inside court, but back at the media center, press can use laptops to transmit updates when court is not in session (more on restrictions in this previous post). On the Twitter list, I included other central figures in the trial like Manning's attorney, David Coombs, and reporters who aren't there every day but are producing notably reliable reporting on the trial. Read the rest
On Tuesday, Col. Denise Lind, the military judge in Bradley Manning's court-martial, found the former Army intelligence officer guilty of 20 of 22 charges brought by the government against him.
The 25-year-old Oklahoma native was accused of leaking classified information while stationed in Iraq to Julian Assange, who published it at Wikileaks.org and provided news organizations with access. Manning was found not guilty of "aiding the enemy," the most serious charge which carried a possible life sentence, but was found guilty of 6 Espionage Act charges and other offenses that could add up to 136 years of prison time.
Today, at 930am Eastern time, Judge Lind reconvened court at Fort Meade to begin the sentencing phase of the trial.
Here is a transcript of today's verdict in the Bradley Manning case, provided by Freedom of the Press Foundation court stenographers: PDF link.
FotPF's Trevor Timm writes that the military court's "decision is a terrible blow to both investigative journalists and the sources they rely on to inform the public."
[T]he decision today continues a trend of government prosecutions that use familiarity with digital tools and knowledge of computers as a scare tactic and a basis for obtaining grossly disproportionate and unfair punishments, strategies enabled by broad, vague laws like the CFAA and the Espionage Act. Let's call this the “hacker madness” strategy. Using it, the prosecution portrays actions taken by someone using a computer as more dangerous or scary than they actually are by highlighting the digital tools used to a nontechnical or even technophobic judge.Bradley Manning Verdict and the Dangerous “Hacker Madness” Prosecution Strategy [eff.org, via Trevor Timm]
Pvt. Bradley Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy today, but convicted on multiple lesser counts, including violating the Espionage Act.
Twenty to thirty supporters, wearing black tee shirts emblazoned with the word "Truth", were in the courtroom alongside eight reporters. There were no outbursts as the verdict was read.
The verdict was read by Justice Col. Denise Lind at 1 p.m. EST, who presided over Manning's trial and deliberated over the weekend after closing arguments wrapped late last week. The sentencing phase will begin tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. EST.
Manning did not look surprised, and smiled briefly after the verdict. His attorney appeared resigned, as if expecting the outcome. Though cleared on the most serious charge, Manning still faces a maximum possible sentence of 136 years, according to an Army legal expert who briefed reporters after the verdict. But he could receive less, due in part to guilty pleas entered on some counts. Read the rest
BRADLEY MANNING trial at Ft. Meade: Verdict tomorrow at 1300 hours, 1pm ET. Judge just announced.— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) July 29, 2013
A moment of outstanding absurdity from the Manning trial: prosecutors inquiring in tones of menace whether a witness is familiar with "wget" -- a standard Unix command for fetching a file from the Web ("wget" = "Web get") that many of us use routinely. Read the rest
A ruling in the Bradley Manning court-martial could come as early as this weekend from the military Judge, Col. Denise Lind. Reporters are back at Ft. Meade for what is likely to be the final day of closing arguments and proceedings before that decision happens. Yesterday, press reported of newly extreme policing of their activities by armed military guards, which was later found to be the result of an order by the judge. Below, a few morning tweets from news reporters, bloggers, and artists who are back at it again today. Army Internet has been periodically shut off for press, and they're not allowed to bring their own mobile internet devices. Read the rest
Huffington Post reporter Matt Sledge read my Boing Boing post earlier today about reports from the Bradley Manning trial of dramatically-increased security measures for press. Those measures including armed military police standing behind journalists at their laptops, snooping on their screens.
He reports that the new, oppressive security measures were ordered directly by the judge because reporters were violating court rules (which no one can find a copy of), and carrying "prohibited electronics." For this, the government needs armed military police standing right behind reporters as they type, in the media room.
Journalists and bloggers covering closing arguments in the military trial of Wikileaks source Bradley Manning are reporting a far more intense security climate at Ft. Meade today, as compared to the past 18 months of pre-trial hearings and court proceedings.
@carwinb, @kgosztola, @nathanLfuller, and @wikileakstruck have tweeted about armed guards standing directly behind them as they type into laptops in the designated press area, being "screamed at" for having "windows" open on their computers that show Twitter in a browser tab, and having to undergo extensive, repeated, invasive physical searches.
I visited the trial two weeks ago. While there were many restrictions for attending press that I found surprising (reporters couldn't work from the courtroom, mobile devices weren't allowed in the press room), it wasn't this bad. I was treated respectfully and courteously by Army Public Affairs Officers and military police, and was only grumped at a few times for stretching those (silly) restrictions. I was physically searched only once, when entering the courtroom, and that's standard for civilian or military trials.
But the vibe is very different today in the Smallwood building where reporters are required to work, about a quarter mile away from the actual courtroom. Tweets from some of the attending journalists are below; there are about 40-50 of them present and not all are tweeting. Read the rest
Inside a small courthouse on the Army base in Fort Meade, Maryland, Army prosecutors are presenting closing arguments in their case against Pfc. Bradley Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of government documents to Wikileaks.
According to Maj. Ashden Fein today, the 25-year-old former intel analyst betrayed his country’s trust and handed government secrets to Julian Assange in search of fame and glory, knowing that in doing so, the material would be made visible to Al Qaeda and its then-leader Osama bin Laden.
Clark Stoeckley, the artist who has driven the "Wikileaks Truck" on to the Fort Meade Army base for nearly every day of the United States vs. PFC Bradley Manning trial and sketched the participants in this historic trial, is doing a graphic novel about the case. It will be available in September 2013 as either a paper book or ebook.
I visited the trial a few weeks ago and spent some time with Clark, watching him do his work and watching the expressions on the faces of the guys on base when he drove up in the Wikileaks Truck, emblazoned with "Release Bradley Manning" on the back and "Mobile Information Collection Unit" on the side. He's one dedicated artist, and it takes a special kind of grit to pull that off. Read the rest