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Leaked Gitmo 'baseball cards' had little value: WikiLeaks trial witness

U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (L) is escorted out after a day of testimony at his court martial trial at Fort Meade, Marylan
U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (L) is escorted out after a day of testimony at his court martial trial at Fort Meade, Marylan

By Ian Simpson

FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - Secret files on Guantanamo Bay detainees dubbed "baseball cards" that a soldier leaked to WikiLeaks had little value for U.S. enemies since it was available publicly, the prison's former top prosecutor testified at a court-martial on Tuesday.

Testimony about the files came as the defense for Private First Class Bradley Manning, 25, sought to show that much of the information Manning is charged with leaking was publicly available. The leaked files include assessment briefs for more than 700 inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

Retired Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, Guantanamo Bay's chief prosecutor from 2005 to 2007 at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, testified for the defense that five briefs he reviewed had nothing that was not available from public sources such as books, movies, or court or Pentagon records.

"Other than creating embarrassment to the country, I don't see that the enemy could gain any advantage to gaining access to the detainee assessment briefs," he said under questioning by defense lawyer David Coombs.

Davis said the briefs were known flippantly at Guantanamo Bay as "baseball cards" since they provided such information as biographical background, religious affiliation and extremist links. Of the five briefs reviewed, four of the detainees were released in 2004 or 2005. One is still being held, Davis said.

CROSS EXAMINATION

Under cross examination by prosecutor Captain Joe Morrow, Davis said the assessments were prepared for security officials, not prosecutors, and he had not dealt with them for several years. He also said he had never been a security official or an authority on classification of materials.

The United States set up the Guantanamo Bay prison to hold foreign suspects after U.S.-led forces invaded Afghanistan to pursue the al Qaeda network behind the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Rear Admiral David Woods, who commanded the prison in 2011 and 2012, testified for the prosecution last month that the release of the briefs was a serious threat to national security.

Manning, a native of Crescent, Oklahoma, is charged with leaking more than 700,000 classified files, combat videos and State Department cables while serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010. The charges include espionage, computer fraud and, most seriously, aiding the enemy.

Manning could face life in prison without parole if convicted of aiding the enemy.

Another defense witness, Cassius Hall, a security expert with the Army Intelligence and Security Command, testified that he had examined 102 war log reports leaked by Manning. Hall said he had found related information in news reports for 62 of them.

A second security witness, Charles Ganiel, a specialist with the Army's Test and Evaluation command, reviewed 125 leaked State Department cables. He testified that all but two of them had corresponding public information.

Under prosecution questioning, Hall said adversaries of the United States could use leaked information. Ganiel testified that the classified material remained government property.

The defense has sought to portray Manning as a naive but well-intentioned soldier who wanted to show Americans the reality of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The prosecution rested last week after five weeks of testimony, some in closed session.

The trial is scheduled to end by August 23.

(Editing by Dina Kyriakidou and Andrew Hay)

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