Witness | US v Pfc. Manning, Special Agent Calder Robertson, CCIU

UPDATE POST COURT-MARTIAL

United States v. Pfc.Manning was conducted in de facto secrecy. The public was not granted contemporaneous access to court filings or rulings during her trial. In addition to reporting on her trial, I transcribed the proceedings, reconstructed the censored appellate list, and un-redacted any publicly available documentation, in order to foster public comprehension of her unprecedented trial.

As a result of a lawsuit against the military judge and the Military District of Washington brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, as well as my own FOIA requests and research, an official court record for US v. Pfc. Manning was released seven months after her trial. That record is not complete.

The official trial docket is published HERE and the entire collection of documents is text searchable at usvmanning.org.

*During the pretrial proceedings, court-martial and sentencing of Pfc. Manning, Chelsea requested to be identified as Bradley and addressed using the male pronoun. In a letter embargoed for August 22, 2013 Chelsea proclaimed that she is female and wished to be addressed from that moment forward as Chelsea E. Manning.

Special Agent Calder Robertson, Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU) in Germany, witness at Pfc. Manning's Article 32 Pretrial Hearing , 12/17/11.

General Description:

Special Agent Calder Robertson was with the Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU) in Germany, and in charge of the Europe Branch office for CID. (Source: Rainey Reitman, Chelsea Manning Support Network)

Witness No. 3 on the Decmeber 2, 2011 Defense Request for Article 32 Witnesses

3.) XXXXXXXXXX [Special Agent Calder Robertson, Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU)] He extracted the hard drives from the two SIPR and one NIPR computers collected from the SCIF, the personal laptop of XXXXXXXXXX [Staff Sergeant Peter Bigelow, Supply Room], and the personal external hard drive of PFC Manning. XXXXXXXXXX [Special Agent Calder Robertson, Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU)] will testify about his involvement in the investigation and the steps he took from the initial reporting of the alleged incident on 25 May 2010 until present regarding the forensic imaging and evidence collection of electronic media seized in Iraq.

Special Agent Calder Robertson, CCIU received a call on 29 May 2010. Based on the information in that call, he traveled to Baghdad to take control of digital evidence, conducted a preliminary forensic examination, and then transported to Camp Liberty in Baghdad and conducted preliminary forensic analysis. (Source: Rainey Reitman, Chelsea Manning Support Network)

Robertson main role was to obtain forensic images of the evidence and conduct the preliminary examination. He was asked what physical evidence specifically there was, and he had to refer to his notes. (Source: Rainey Reitman, Chelsea Manning Support Network)

Other individuals named in Special Agent Calder Robertson, CCIU testimony:

  • Captain Thomas Cherepko, an information assurance manager for Bradley Manning's unit.
  • An unnamed special agent that was responsible for collecting everything else other than hard drives, which Special Agent Calder Robertson, CCIU was responsible for collecting.
  • The unnamed investigating authorities that Special Agent Calder Roberston, CCIU testifies told him that the items he did not collected himself, belonging in fact to Pfc. Manning.

Article 32 Pretrial Hearing Transcript:

See Transcript of US v Pfc. Bradley Manning, Article 32 Pretrial Hearing, 12/17/11

I also encourage you to visit Rainey Reitman's account for the prosecution's first questions to Special Agent Calder Robertson.

[Prosecution rests.]

Defense: You weren't involved in collection, only evidence?

Robertson:I collected hard drives; another special agent did everything else.

Defense: Why didn't you travel from Germany to Iraq?

Robertson: The items came sealed.

Defense: Are you sure only Manning used the devices? Do you know if this computer was assigned to Manning?

Robertson: I took word of investigating authorities.

Defense: So you don't know if other individuals used the computers?

Robertson: No.

Defense: What is the difference between imaging and full forensic?

Robertson: Full forensics takes months. It's a scientific process. I did preliminary analysis not full forensics.

Defense: At the time of investigation were your certifications up to standing?

Robertson: Yes.

Robertson: I did all the forensic imaging.

Defense: Take Notes?

[I could not hear the answer.]

Defense: Cat Card access?

Robertson: Not sure.

Defense: Beyond forensic imaging and preliminary forensic, you did not do full forensic?

Robertson: That's right. Cat Card access done during full forensics.

Defense: Were the computers password protected?

Robertson: On PFC Manning personal computer, no. On all others, yes.

Defense: Did you instruct Captain Thomas Cherepko on how to conduct forensic investigations?

Robertson: I did not, people on my team may have instructed him.

Defense: Is that a typical practice, to instruct people on how to obtain network logs?

Robertson: Yes, it is customary practice to obtain network logs.

Defense: Did you send software products or instructions to Captain Thomas Cherepko.

Robertson: Don't recall.

Defense: Did you come across evidence PFC Manning suffered from gender identity disorder?

Robertson: I am not qualified to make determination.

Defense: That he wanted to become Brianna Manning? Familiar with the name?

Robertson: I knew PFC Manning had behaviors. I know he referred to himself as 'fragile' in chat logs.

Defense: Any evidence he was homosexual?

Robertson: I don't know how to answer that question.

Defense: During your examination did you come across any evidence that PFC Manning was homosexual?

Robertson: I don't know.

Defense: You either know or you don't.

[Objection raised by prosecution as to relevance.]

IO: If you could keep questions to evidence, as to what he found. Special Agent Robertson, please answer question.

Defense: Did you come across any evidence PFC Manning was gay?

Defense: Are you familiar with the global address list?

Robertson: Yes.

Defense: Part of your work?

Robertson: No.

Defense: Come across this?

Robertson: I don't know.

Defense: On computers you worked on were there multiple user profiles?

Robertson: I don't recall.

[Prosecution re-examines the witness.]

Prosecution: Who was Captain Thomas Cherepko, and what did he do?

Robertson: He secured some network logs, which are official communications between computers.

Prosecution: So no imaging?

Robertson: Not to my knowledge.

Prosecution: Why did you not travel to Iraq?

Robertson: It was determined that it was not needed.

IO: Thank you Special Agent Robertson. You are permanently excused. Please do not discuss this case. If someone tries to discuss this case with you, please report it to counsel. [Recess was taken.]

Other Resources:

NB On August 25, 2012 I changed any spelling of the Special Agent's name to consistently read Robertson, which is what I transcribed in my notebook in Court. Rainy Reitman had noted the name as Robinson, and Kevin Gosztola had noted Robertson.

Alexa O'Brien Alexa O'Brien researches and writes about national security and law enforcement. Her work has been published in The New York Times, VICE News, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Guardian (UK), The Daily Beast, NY Daily News, and featured on the BBC, PBS, NPR, Democracy Now!, and Public Radio International. She was shortlisted for the 2013 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in the United Kingdom and listed in The Verge 50. In 2016, she worked at The Constitution Project in Washington, D.C. as a staff researcher and writer on an independent commission studying Oklahoma's death penalty. She also provided research support to scholars of the first cost study conducted on that state's capital punishment system.