Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, who was charged in May with illegally downloading classified material, specifically a classified video, has now been tied to the release of the secret Afghanistan War Documents leaked to Wikileaks and published this past Sunday.
According to the WSJ investigators have found concrete evidence linking Pfc. Bradley Manning with the leak of classified Afghanistan war reports, a defense official said. Those reports say investigators checked Manning’s computer and found he had indeed downloaded the Afghanistan war logs, which span from 2004 until 2009, the official said.
The investigation is also looking at who might have helped Pfc. Manning provide the documents to WikiLeaks, a web-based group that earlier this week released 76,000 secret reports from Afghanistan.
Because of the focus on civilians who helped Pfc. Manning, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department have been brought into aid the investigation lead by the Army Criminal Investigation Command.
Defense officials are also combing through Pfc. Manning’s computers in a bid to figure out what other material he may have stolen as they try to anticipate what other material WikiLeaks may have.
Military officials said that the documents already released contain names of Afghans who have aided the allied force, information that could potentially endanger some of those people.
Beyond that, the documents can become a rallying cry and recruitment tool for al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists.
…Almost immediately after the release of the documents, investigators began focusing on Pfc. Manning, who had suggested to a former hacker he had obtained access to a similar cache of war logs from Iraq.
A request for comment to Pfc. Manning’s military counsel was not immediately returned. In the past, the lawyers have referred all questions to public affairs officers who have declined to comment.
Pfc. Manning, 22 years old, was charged by the military earlier this month with illegally taking and disseminating a classified video as well as secret State Department files.
Defense officials have said the video taken by Pfc. Manning was the one released by WikiLeaks showing a U.S. military helicopter firing on a group of people in Baghdad. Two Reuters journalists and seven others were killed in the incident.
Investigators began examining Pfc. Manning’s actions in May when Adrian Lamo, the former computer hacker, alerted authorities that the private had potentially stolen classified documents.
In a series of Internet chats, Pfc. Manning told Mr. Lamo he had passed classified documents to WikiLeaks.
This post will be updated as more info arises.