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3 days in, WikiLeaks trial comes into focus

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm •  Published: June 5, 2013

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — Three days into Pfc. Bradley Manning's court-martial for giving thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, prosecutors have shown the soldier was trained to guard classified information and knew it could easily fall into enemy hands, yet broke promises to protect it.

At the same time, the defense has revealed that Manning and other intelligence analysts worked in a relaxed atmosphere in Iraq, watching movies, playing computer games and listening to music when they were supposed to be producing reports from secret government databases to help capture enemy combatants. Manning's defense has also tried to show he meant no harm to fellow soldiers, confidential sources or national security when he released sensitive material to the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks.

The soldier from Crescent, Okla., is charged under federal espionage and computer fraud laws, but the most serious offense the military has accused him of is aiding the enemy, which carries a life sentence. To convict him of that, prosecutors must prove Manning knew the material he leaked would be seen by al-Qaida.

On Wednesday, Jihrleah Showman, who worked with Manning in Baghdad, testified that during the first three months of their deployment in late 2009 and early 2010, soldiers often spent working hours watching movies they brought in or listening to music they found on a shared hard drive reserved for classified material. She said the brigade commander banned such the entertainment in February 2010.

Defense attorney David Coombs asked one of Manning's supervisors, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle Balonek, if music was allowed on the secure network. Balonek became evasive.

"It was there, sir," he said. "I don't know if it was authorized or not."

Balonek testified he was reprimanded for failing to supervise Manning in Baghdad. He testified under immunity from prosecution for military criminal conduct, such as dereliction of duty.

Manning, 25, has acknowledged downloading hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports and video and State Department diplomatic cables to compact disks at work, and then using his personal computer to send the files to WikiLeaks.

Balonek acknowledged there were no restrictions on the type of information intelligence analysts could download. He also said he witnessed Manning signing an agreement not to disclose classified information without authorization, one of at least two that Manning signed as part of his training.

Showman said analysts had access to many kinds of information, but that didn't mean they were supposed to look at all of it.

"It was your responsibility to look at things you needed," she said. "Just because you had a secret clearance doesn't mean you have legal access to see everything that has secret classification over it."

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