He said Manning erased data from his laptop twice in January 2010, making it impossible for investigators to retrieve any information before that month.
Johnson examined an external hard drive belonging to Manning that had been in his quarters in Baghdad. It included a document titled “wl-press.txt” created on Nov. 30, 2009, around the time Manning is said to have initiated contact with WikiLeaks. That document included the message, which was projected on a courtroom screen:
“You can currently contact our investigations editor directly in Iceland at 354 862 3481, 24 hour service, ask for Julian Assange.”
The memory card investigators found was among Manning’s belongings at his aunt’s home, in the Maryland suburb of Potomac, where Manning lived before joining the Army in 2009 and while on home leave in January 2010. On that card were four files, one containing 91,000 reports from a database of Afghanistan field reports, and a second containing 400,000 Iraq field reports, said Special Agent David Shaver, also with the Army’s Computer Crimes Investigative Unit.
A third file on that card contained a document titled: README.txt.
It appeared to be a note to accompany the Afghanistan and Iraq “significant activity” reports, saying they were drawn from the Defense and State departments and covered the period from Jan. 1, 2004, to Dec. 31, 2009, which corresponds with the time frame of the war reports WikiLeaks published.
“These items have already been sanitized of any source identity information,” it said, as Shaver read it and a copy was projected on a courtroom screen. “You might need to sit on this information for 90 to 100 days to figure out how best to send and distribute such a large amount of data to a large audience” and to protect the source of the data.
It continued: “This is perhaps one of the most significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day.”