Fort Meade, Maryland, Dec 19: When digital-crimes investigator David Shaver combed through two work computers used by an Army private accused of spilling hefty U.S. secrets, he got an eyeful, according to his testimony to a military hearing.
On one computer, the special agent said, were more than 10,000 U.S. diplomatic cables and plenty more tightly held government information.
On the other, he said, was evidence that someone had been vigorously searching the Internet to find out about WikiLeaks and its founder.
The government connected those dots in its case accusing Pfc. Bradley Manning of committing traitorous leaks from his perch as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad. Shaver's testimony Sunday provided the first hard evidence linking Manning to the unauthorized release of hundreds of thousands of documents that ended up on WikiLeaks.
On Monday, Manning's lawyers intend to cross-examine Shaver soon after the hearing on Manning's potential court martial begins its fourth day.
Manning's defense pressed the government Sunday to explain why a private said to have upended furniture in fits of rage and exhibited a pattern of troubled behavior was allowed to keep working with highly sensitive information. A supervisor who might have shed light on that question refused to testify.
The tone changed late in the day, though, when the government called Shaver to testify about his probe of Manning's workstation.
He told the hearing that in addition to the ample State Department cables, he found several versions of a deadly 2007 helicopter attack video and secret assessments of Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainees.
He also said he discovered evidence that someone had used the computer to streamline the downloading of cables with the apparent aim of “moving them out.” All the material was linked to the username bradley.manning or Manning's user profile, Shaver said.
On the second computer used by the private, he said, he found evidence that someone had conducted more than 100 searches using the keywords “WikiLeaks” and “Julian Assange,” the organization's leader.
Those terms seemed “out of place” on a computer that was used for analyzing intelligence about Iraq, said Shaver
The hearing, which could unfold for days more, will determine whether Manning will be court-martialed on 22 charges, including aiding the enemy. The 24-year-old native of Oklahoma could face life in prison if convicted.
In camouflaged Army fatigues and dark rimmed-glasses, he sat mostly forward for the third straight day, appearing calm, listening intently to the witnesses and occasionally writing on paper in front of him.
He didn't speak Sunday except for the few occasions he leaned over to consult with his civilian defense attorney, David Coombs, each time first switching off the defense table microphone for privacy.
Manning's lawyers have neither acknowledged nor denied that the intelligence analyst was behind the leaks.
Instead, they have sought to build on their case that his supervisors on the 2nd Brigade Combat Team should have seen enough red flags to suspend or revoke his access to secret information months before the leaks.
Manning is accused of illegally leaking a trove of secret information that surfaced on WikiLeaks, a breach that rattled U.S. foreign relations and, according to the government, imperiled valuable military and diplomatic sources.
Defense attorneys argue the leaked material did little or no damage to U.S. interests.
Capt. Casey Fulton, an Army intelligence officer, testified Sunday it was impossible to supervise analysts such as Manning constantly.
“You have to trust that they'll safeguard the material the way that they've been taught,” she said.
The defense has emphasized what it regards as a failure by Manning's closest supervisor, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Adkins, to suspend the intelligence analyst's security clearance despite his outbursts.
Adkins refused to testify Sunday, invoking his right against self-incrimination, when summoned by the government.
Other testimony revealed that Manning was sometimes angry and distant with others from his unit.
The defense has said that Manning, who is gay, was bullied by fellow soldiers. Manning's defense team says he told Adkins he suffered from gender-identity disorder—the belief that he was born the wrong sex.
Fulton provided details of a confrontation that finally got Manning banned from the workplace.
She said Spc. Jirhleah Showman grew angry after she was summoned from her bed to work, and saw Manning there, apparently playing a video game.
Fulton said she heard Manning tell Showman to calm down. Fulton testified that she heard terse words exchanged, followed by shuffling sounds, and then saw Showman pinning Manning to the floor.
“She said he had struck her and she had a big red welt on her face,” Fulton said.
Another government witness, Sgt. Chad Madaras, testified that Manning was sometimes sullen and unresponsive, especially toward Adkins.
“He would sit down at his work station and kind of ignore everyone,” Madaras said under questioning by Coombs.
Madaras said Manning “kind of separated himself from others in the unit.” He said he didn't know if Manning was picked on by fellow soldiers.
Capt. Thomas Cherepko, the officer responsible for ensuring the security of the brigade's computers, testified that he received a letter of admonishment for failing to make sure the system was properly certified and accredited.
Cherepko, called as a government witness, said under cross-examination that he found music, video games and movies on a shared computer drive used by intelligence analysts, in violation of security rules.
He said he would remove the material but it would soon be put back on.
Late afternoon, the presiding officer ordered the hearing closed to the news media for a discussion about coming testimony that could include classified information.
It was the first time since the hearing began Friday that Lt. Col. Paul Almanza closed the courtroom.
The hearing is at Fort Meade outside Washington and could run several more days.
The Army says it may take several more weeks for the commander of the Military District of Washington to decide whether Manning will be court-martialed.
Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington may choose other courses, including administrative punishment or dismissal of some or all counts.
He also could add more charges based on evidence produced at the hearing.