US v WikiLeaks | Career DoJ prosecutor appointed judge Manning pretrial soon after DoJ partners with joint-investgation

By Alexa O’Brien on July 1, 2012

Soon after the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation opened an official investigation into WikiLeaks – by partnering with the multi-agency joint investigations by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID); U.S. Army Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU); U.S. Diplomatic Security Services (D.S.S.); and the U.S. Department of State on July 28, 2010, Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, a life long Justice Department prosecutor was contacted by the convening authority in August 2010.

Almanza, the self-described “impartial fact finder”, admitted that he was aware that the U.S. Justice Department, his life long employer, had an ongoing criminal investigation into Manning and WikiLeaks.

When Manning’s civilian defense counsel, David Coombs, questioned Almanza’s prejudicial appointment, Almanza said that he notified his Justice Department supervisor of the his mobilization orders on December 12, 2011 and admitted that he emailed trial counsel in his capacity as Investigating Officer from his Department of Justice account.

The F.B.I. officially partnered in the multi-agency joint investigation of WikiLeaks in late July, but Neil MacBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in charge of the Department of Justice’s WikiLeaks Grand Jury in Alexandria, was already counseling the U.S. Army investigation of Manning and WikiLeaks in early June 2010, within days of Manning’s arrested in Iraq, according to testimony of Special Agent Mark Mander, CCIU, at an Article 32 Pretrial hearing.

MacBride hired WikiLeaks Grand Jury prosecutor, Andrew Peterson, to join the Terrorism and National Security Unit nine days after Manning was arrested.

Based on the same agent’s testimony and WikiLeaks Grand Jury documents the FBI is targeting seven civilians for conspiracy to communicate or transmit national defense information, unauthorized access, and stealing U.S. Government property.

According to the agent, those individuals include the “founders, owners, or managers of WikiLeaks.”

Five days after Andrew Peterson, requested the Grand Jury subpoena the testimony of an “Unnamed Cambridge Resident,” Grand Jury prosecutors also requested that the Court order Sonic to turn over the I.P. addresses of devices as well as email addresses of people who communicated with Jacob Appelbaum, a developer for the Tor Project, from November 1, 2009 – the date Manning arrived in Iraq from Kuwait as well as the earliest date associated with charges against him – to within days of the Court Order.

Appelbaum is known to have represented WikiLeaks at the 2010 H.O.P.E. conference, when its scheduled keynote speaker, Julian Assange, avoided travel to the U.S. due to security concerns. Five U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents showed up to H.O.P.E looking for Julian Assange.

As late as April of 2012, Eric Holder, the Attorney General for the Justice Department – and the U.S. official who authorized the Grand Jury currently empaneled in Alexandria, Virginia investigating WikiLeaks, called Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, his “colleague” at the Department of Justice.

Almanza, also admitted that he advised trial attorneys in the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), where Tracy Doherty-McCormick, a WikiLeaks Grand Jury Prosecutor also works.

At the first Article 32 pretrial of Bradley Manning, Coombs demanded that Almanza to recuse himself under Rules for Court Martial 902(a) concerning the disqualification of military judge: “Your position as a prosecutor for the DOJ – a ‘career prosecutor’ since 2002 – coupled with an ongoing criminal Grand Jury…they would get a plea to go after Julian Assange. DoJ has not ruled out…taking this case…you are not impartial.”

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