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Bradley Manning's defense says he shouldn't have had access to materials

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FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — The defense has rested in a hearing to determine whether the Army intelligence analyst blamed for the biggest leak of secrets in U.S. history should be court-martialed.

Manning could face a court-martial and life in prison if convicted. (Photo: Associated Press)

Pfc. Bradley Manning's lawyers called only two witnesses Wednesday: a sergeant who saw one of Manning's fits of rage in Baghdad and a captain whom the young private served under in Iraq.

The hearing was recessed until closing arguments Thursday.

Manning is accused of releasing a trove of classified military and diplomatic information to the WikiLeaks website. If court-martialed and then found guilty of aiding the enemy, he could face up to a life sentence.

 

Though defense lawyers have revealed little about their strategy since Manning's arrest in the Iraq war zone in May 2010, some hints have emerged at the hearing that started Friday at Fort Meade. They got government witnesses to say Manning was a troubled young man who shouldn't have had access to classified material, let alone be sent to Iraq.

They portrayed military computer security as lax at Manning's Baghdad workplace, where soldiers played games, music and movies on computers meant for classified information. And they raised the possibility that soldiers other than Manning could have used the shared computers holding evidence of the alleged crimes.

Prosecution witnesses who served with Manning said he was well trained in rules prohibiting release of classified information. Forensic computer experts testified that they had retraced his keyboard strokes as he allegedly downloaded secret State Department diplomatic cables and raw battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The hearing to determine whether Manning will face a court-martial became a case of techie vs. techie.

Manning, who once worked as a civilian software developer, is deft at navigating the Internet. Intelligence officers who served with him in Baghdad said he was the unit's go-to guy for plotting data points, creating Excel spreadsheets and researching the enemy threat.

But he may have been undone by others with better digital skills. A former hacker turned him in, and two info-tech gumshoes bored deep into several computer hard drives to find allegedly incriminating evidence.

 

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