Manning court-martial explores military resources spent on assessing leak damage

July 31, 2013

A retired Army officer told a military court Wednesday that a special task force spent more than 10 months assessing the damage caused by the disclosure of sensitive documents by Pfc. Bradley Manning, as a judge opened the sentencing portion of the court-martial for the former intelligence analyst.

Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Carr, the head of the panel, testified that the military faced an enormous task in assessing the damage from the leaking of more than 700,000 files, including battlefield reports from the Iraq and Afghan wars, military video footage, and secret briefs on detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Carr’s group was tasked in part with examining any intelligence sources or methods — or operational activities — that could have been at risk because of the documents Manning provided to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. Carr’s group, known as the Information Release Task Force, was fully staffed by the beginning of August 2010 with 125 people and operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week through September 2010, when the group thought it had a handle on the information that had been released or might be released.

The cost of operating the group was $6.2 million.

“We triaged the data — we put it in a database where we could run quick searches,” testified John Kirchhofer, the deputy chief of the task force, explaining the nature of the group’s work in its earliest days. Analysts were looking for unclassified nicknames of programs in the data and were hoping to flag items that could have later impact.

The verdict for each of Wikileaks source Bradley Manning's charges.

Manning was convicted Tuesday on 20 charges including violations of the Espionage Act. The prosecution has argued that the documents he disclosed caused significant damage to U.S. national security — a contention that the defense has rejected. Manning, 25, faces a maximum of 136 years in prison, minus time served as well as a sentencing credit that amounts to a reduction of more than three years in any sentence he is given.

On Wednesday, Carr contended that at least one Afghan national was killed as a result of the disclosure of the battlefield reports from Afghanistan. He said the conclusion was based on a Taliban statement that the group had killed the Afghan.

On cross-examination, however, the general acknowledged that his task force was unable to identify the individual by name. The judge in the case, Col. Denise Lind, ruled that the testimony would not be admitted into the record.

The sentencing phase of Manning’s court-martial could last several weeks.

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