Damage Assessments | US v Pfc. Manning, Defense Intelligence Agency Information Review Task Force

Defense Intelligence Agency: Information Review Task Force

On July 29, 2010, then Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, ordered the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Ronald Burgess, to stand up an Information Review Task Force, to lead a comprehensive review in concert with interagency participants of the documents allegedly given to WikiLeaks.

The Information Review Task Force was a 24 hour per day operation, comprised of 80 people, largely "intelligence analysts" from the "DIA and from the PAC [USPACOM, United States Pacific Command] and CENTCOM [US Central Command] and USD(I) [Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence]. The FBI and Army CID [Criminal Investigation Command], were also represented," according to then Department of Defense Press Secretary, Geoff Morrell:

And then also there are counterintelligence experts, you know, as part of this organization as well, who are there to make determinations about whether or not any TTPs [Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures] have been exposed and whether or not any adjustments need to be made, in light of that exposure.

Witness No. 5, identity unknown, on the defense Article 32 Witness List, is a law enforcement agent who "detailed the collection of classified information for the Information Review Task Force."

In August 2010, the Information Review Task Force had, according to Morrell, gone through 70,000 documents that were already online. They had also had done around 400 keyword searches.

"They've gone through, I think, the 70-odd thousand documents that are online. They've done about 400 keyword searches through the -- through the 70-odd thousand documents that are online, looking for areas that are of particular concern to us. They then take whatever they find, and whatever hits they find, they then create batches of those documents for further, more extensive review.

And eventually, once we have done that sort of first triage kind of operation, there will be a painstaking, deliberate, page-by-page, word-by-word evaluation of every single document. But right now this team of 80, working around the clock, is going through them."

In July, the U.S. State Department, according to Under Secretary for Management, Patrick Kennedy (who is witness No. 44 on the Defense's Article 32 Witness List) worked with the Department of Defense on the Information Review Task Force "to review any purported State material in the release and provide an assessment, as well as a summary of the overall effect the WikiLeaks release could have on relations with the host country." That work, according to Kennedy, was concluded in August 2010.

In October, the Information Review Task Force, worked on comparing the original Iraq SIGACTS (Significant Activity Reports) with the redacted Iraq War Logs published by WikiLeaks and presumably their media partners: The Guardian, the New York Times, Der Spiegel, Al Jazeera, and Le Monde.

The damage assessment and national security impact statements by the Information Review Task Force concluded, according to defense documents, "that all the information allegedly leaked was either dated, represented low-level opinions, or was commonly understood and known due to previous public disclosures," and contradicted pubic statement's by officials, which former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, himself stated, were "fairly significantly overwrought."

According to Manning's defense, the results of the Information Review Tasks Force's damage assessments also undercut the testimony of the Official Classification Authorities (OCAs) for the leaked documents. Those statements by OCAs included the classification reviews and national security impact statements of :

Robert Rowland (sp.). No further information was given in court regarding this individual except that he was considered an "essential witness" along with Culky (sp.) by defense for the Article 32, and further that the Government had not provided the Defense with the contact information for this individual into March 2012. Information about Rolland was redacted from open court on March 16, 2012. It is my opinion that Rolland (sp.) is witness Number 48 on the Defense's Pretrial Witness List.

Rear Admiral David B. Woods, Commander, Joint Task Force Guantanamo, review of the disclosure of five documents, totaling twenty-two pages" and its impact on national security.

Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary, Management, Department of State, review of the disclosure of Department of State Diplomatic Cables stored within Net_Centric Diplomacy server and part of SIPDIS.

Vice Admiral Robert S. Harward, Deputy Commander, US Central Command (USCENTCOM) for the classification determination and impact on national security for the CIDNE Afghanistan Events [Afghan War Diary], CIDNE Iraq Events [Iraq War Logs], other briefings and the BE22PAX.wmv video [Garani Airstrike Video]

Robert E. Schmidle, Deputy Commander, US Cyber Command, the Original Classification Authority, who concurs with the classification made by Mr. Betts, US Cyber Command, Mr. Betts, U. S. Cyber Command, Chief Classification Officer's, declaration about the information contained 'the alleged chat logs' and its impact.

Mr. Betts, US Cyber Command, Chief Classification Officer and the Original Classification Authority for "the alleged chat logs" and the information contained therein.

Rear Admiral Kevin Donegan, USCENTCOM, Director of Operations, the Original Classification Authority, who conducted classification reviews for two PowerPoint (PPT) slide presentations of official reports originated by USCENTCOM, and their impact on national security due to the release of the information.

James Culky (sp.), 4th Cavalry Division, Brigade S2, the Official Classification Authority for the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike video, also known as "Collateral Murder."

After repeated attempts by defense to obtain information regarding the Information Review Task Force from the Article 32 pretrial Investigating Officer, the Special Court Martial Convening Authority, and the General Court-Martial Convening Authority, Judge Lind finally ordered on March 23, 2012 that the Government report to the defense whether the DIA (among others) had any "investigative files relevant" to the case.

Between April 9 and 13, 2012 the US Government provided defense just 12 pages of Brady material, which "consists of exculpatory or impeaching information and evidence that is material to the guilt or innocence or to the punishment of a defendant," from the Information Review Task Force.

Then on April 20, 2012, the government responded to Judge Lind's ruling saying the DIA doesn't have any "investigative files relevant to the case," but they did provide defense with an April 17, 2012 file related to HQDA [Headquarters, Department of the Army is the executive part of the Department of the Army at the seat of Government], which "revealed," according to defense, "that the DIA did have what the Defense would consider 'an investigation' into the alleged leaks."

Citations

July 29, 2010, Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates (Article 32 Defense Witness List Number 37) directs Defense Intelligence Agency to lead a comprehensive review of the documents allegedly given to WikiLeaks and to coordinate under the Information Review Task Force (IRT, formerly TF 725) to conduct a complete damage review.

See Number 37 Defense Article 32 Witness List, Dec 2 2011

"XXXXXXXXXX [ROBERT GATES, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE] will testify that the Afghanistan and Iraq SIGACT releases did not reveal any sensitive intelligence sources or methods. He will also testify that the Department of Defense could not point to anyone in Afghanistan or Iraq harmed due to the documents released by WikiLeaks. He will testify that the Afghanistan and Iraq SIGACTs are simply ground-level field reports that document dated activities which do not disclose sensitive information or our sources and methods. XXXXXXXXXX [ROBERT GATES, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE] will also testify that the initial public descriptions of the harm to foreign policy due to the publication of diplomatic cables were "fairly significantly overwrought." He will also testify that although the disclosures were embarrassing and awkward, they did not represent significant consequences to foreign policy. Finally, XXXXXXXXXX [ROBERT GATES, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE] will testify that on 29 July 2010, he directed the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to lead a comprehensive review of the documents allegedly given to WikiLeaks and to coordinate under the Information Review Task Force (IRTF, formerly TF 725) to conduct a complete damage review. He will testify that the damage review confirmed that the alleged leaks represented a low to at best moderate risk to national security. Specifically, that all of the information allegedly leaked was either dated, represented low-level opinions, or was already commonly understood and know due to previous public disclosures." [For "fairly significantly overwrought" quote, see DOD News Briefing with Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen from the Pentagon, November 30, 2010]

See 5c of Manning Defense Request for Production of Evidence for Article 32, November 22, 2011

"The results of this damage review [BY THE DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, DIRECTED BY FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES] undercut the testimony of each of the representatives from the OCA [Original Classification Authorities] for the charge documents in this case.  Specifically, the damage assessments concluded that all the information allegedly leaked was either dated, represented low-level opinions, or was commonly understood and known due to previous public disclosures."

Ronald L. Burgess, Jr., Director, DIA

Ronald L. Burgess, Jr., Director, DIA

Teresa Takai, Department of Defense Chief Information Officer and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration; and Thomas Ferguson, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence testimony to Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Hearing on Information Sharing in the Era of Wikileaks on March 10, 2011.

"The Secretary also tasked the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency [Ronald L. Burgess, Jr.] to stand up an Information Review Task Force to assess, in concert with interagency participants, the substance of the data disclosed."

Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary of Management, Department of State

Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary of Management, Department of State

July thru August 2010, State Dept works with DOD Information Review Task Force to identify State Dept material in WikiLeaks possession. Chiefs of Mission reviewed any material in the release and provided assessment and summary of overall effect in their host country. This review was completed in August 2010. According to the testimony of Patrick F. Kennedy, undersecretary for management, in his Statement Before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on March 10, 2011.

"When DoD material was leaked in July 2010, we worked with DoD to identify any alleged State Department material that was in WikiLeaks' possession. We immediately asked Chiefs of Mission at affected posts to review any purported State material in the release and provide an assessment, as well as a summary of the overall effect the WikiLeaks release could have on relations with the host country."

On August 2010, the State Department completes work with DOD Information Review Task Force, to identify State Dept material in WikiLeaks possession. Chiefs of Mission reviewed any material in the release and provided assessment and summary of overall effect in their host country. This review was started in July. State Department instructs all Chiefs of Missions to familiarize themselves with content in the Net Centric Diplomacy (NCD) database. According to the testimony of Patrick F. Kennedy, undersecretary for management, in his Statement Before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on March 10, 2011.

"Following the completion of the review in August, when it was believed that purported State cables might be released, the State Department instructed all Chiefs of Missions to familiarize themselves with the content in the Net Centric Diplomacy (NCD) database should a release actually occur."

Department of Defense, Press Secretary, Geoff Morrell

Department of Defense, Press Secretary, Geoff Morrell

On August 5, 2010, the Department of Defense, Press Secretary, Geoff Morrell details the composition and tactics of the Information Review Task Force.

Q What is the status -- what do you now know about what they have? Do you know what they have? Because until now, you've said -- the department has said that the task force is looking at it and reviewing at it. As we sit here today, do you know what WikiLeaks has in totality?

MR. MORRELL: Well, I think I've addressed this question.

We know what is on the website, and we have this -- the task force that we have set up to review the -- review this material has been working -- as I've described before, they have a 24-hour operation. They have roughly -- they're up to about 80 personnel. And they are -- they are reviewing it.

They've gone through, I think, the 70-odd thousand documents that are online. They've done about 400 keyword searches through the -- through the 70-odd thousand documents that are online, looking for areas that are of particular concern to us. They then take whatever they find, and whatever hits they find, they then create batches of those documents for further, more extensive review.

And eventually, once we have done that sort of first triage kind of operation, there will be a painstaking, deliberate, page-by-page, word-by-word evaluation of every single document. But right now this team of 80, working around the clock, is going through them.

And as we find things that are of concern, we are notifying appropriate entities -- be they foreign governments, when they come up; be they -- if there are Afghan citizens who are named or Afghan -- and in this case, if there are -- if there are Afghan citizens who are named, we are informing the command in Kabul, who is then sharing the information with the appropriate subordinate commands and units so that they can take appropriate action to safeguard those people.

Q But you haven't opened the 15,000 yet?

MR. MORRELL: What I've said is, the 15,000 -- the way I've described it is we have -- we believe we have some idea of what those 15,000 could be, and are reviewing what we believe to be, potentially, those 15,000. We do not know for sure if the 15,000 we believe they have and are waiting to post are indeed the same documents that they do indeed have and are waiting to post.

Q Can I -- can I --

MR. MORRELL: You seem -- Tony, I'm really concerned about you today.

Q I'm listening --

MR. MORRELL: You are laughing. You're scowling. You seem to be confused.

Q Well, yeah, but your last comment was hard to follow because it had so many different --

MR. MORRELL: Well, follow up. I'm happy -- I'm happy to -- I'm happy to hold your hand through this process.

Q I don't have -- (off mike) -- but her question is a good one. Why didn't you move sooner? And what --

MR. MORRELL: I think I've -- I think I've answered it. We've been evaluating appropriate courses of action. This is the one that was deemed appropriate at this time. We're moving out on it.

Q If Pandora's Box has been open for a week. Realistically, what purpose would be served by you getting back documents that the world have had -- has had access to for a week?

MR. MORRELL: Well, as I said before, Tony, the longer they hang out there, the more opportunity there is for those to wish us harm -- do us harm, to use those documents to their advantage. So we're trying to, as best we can, mitigate the damage caused by this and compel them to take those documents off the Internet and return them to their rightful owner, the United States government.

Al Pessin.

Q Can you say from these keyword searches how many Afghan citizens have been identified and what actions generally speaking have been taken to protect them?

MR. MORRELL: Yeah, I'm not going to get into how many and what kinds of people. I mean, there clearly have been Afghan names, which have been found doing searches of these -- of these documents. And as such, they have -- that information has been shared with the command. And they will make judgments about how to proceed with it.

We have housed within this task force of 80-odd people, and it's still growing by the way -- I think, you know, it could grow as -- there are -- we have personnel on hand, they're flowing in, that could take it to about 120-125.

But they are going through this. The personnel they have are people steeped in -- largely they're intelligence analysts who we've gotten from DIA and from the PAC and CENTCOM and USD(I). The FBI and Army CID are also represented.

And then also there are counterintelligence experts, you know, as part of this organization as well, who are there to make determinations about whether or not any TTPs have been exposed and whether or not any adjustments need to be made, in light of that exposure.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates

Defense Secretary Robert Gates

On Aug 8, 2010, Robert Gates, Former Secretary of Defense, sends a letter to Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Arms Services Committee in response to his July 28, 2010 letter. The Information Review Task Force to date, has "not revealed any sensitive intelligence source and methods comprised by this disclosure."

Gates writes to Levin:

"After consulting with the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, I have directed a thorough investigation to determine the scope of any unauthorized release of classified information and identify the person or persons responsible. I have also established an interagency Information Review Task Force, led by the Defense Intelligence Agency, to assess the content of any compromised information and the impact of such a compromise. Our initial review indicates most of the information contained in these documents relates to tactical military operations. The initial assessment in no way discounts the risk to national security; however, the review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence source and methods comprised by this disclosure.

Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Arms Services Committee

Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Arms Services Committee

The documents do contain the names of cooperative Afghan national and the Department takes very seriously the Taliban threats recently discussed in the press. We access the risk as likely to cause significant harm or damage to the national security interest of the Unites States and are examining mitigation options. We are working closely with our allies to determine what risks out mission partners may face as a result of the disclosure. There is a possibility that additional military documents may be published by WikiLeaks and the Department is developing courses of action to address this possibility.

The scope of the assessment and nature of the investigative process requires a great deal of time and effort. I am committed to investigating this matter and determining appropriate action to reduce the risk of any such compromises in the future. We will keep you informed as additional information becomes available."

In October 2010, the DOD [Information Review] task force is still combing through the Iraq data base to assess the damage that the WikiLeaks publication of the activity reports could pose to the U.S. military, Iraqi allies and on-going operations.

"A DOD task force has been combing through the Iraq data base to assess the damage that the WikiLeaks publication of the activity reports could pose to the U.S. military, Iraqi allies and on-going operations."

According to a DOD News Briefing with Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen from the Pentagon, November 30, 2010:

"[A] joint task force led by the Defense Intelligence Agency [the Information Review Task Force] is comparing the original with redacted documents [Iraq War Logs], [Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan] said, to assess the damage that WikiLeaks' publication of the classified Iraq significant-activities reports, called the SIGACTS data base, could pose to the U.S. military, Iraqi allies and current operations." The press release also quotes Clinton October 22, 2010 comments that WikiLeaks release of Iraq War Logs threaten US national security.

"The U.S. Central Command has the names of those potentially at risk and "is deciding whether they're going to make notifications or not," Lapan said."

"A joint task force led by the Defense Intelligence Agency is comparing the original with redacted documents, he said, to assess the damage that WikiLeaks' publication of the classified Iraq significant-activities reports, called the SIGACTS data base, could pose to the U.S. military, Iraqi allies and current operations."

March 10, 2011 Senate Committee Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Information Sharing and WikiLeaks Website which features, video and transcripts

November 22, 2011Defense Request for the Production of Evidence

Defense Request for Article 32 Witnesses, December 2, 2011 See number five [unidentified Law Enforcement Agent] and number 37 [Robert Gates]:

Witness No. 5: "XXXXXXXXXX [WHO IS THIS?] is one of the law enforcement agents that conducted work on this case. He interviewed numerous witnesses during the CCIU investigation from 2nd BCT. He also detailed the collection of classified information for the Information Review Task Force's damage assessment."

[...]

"XXXXXXXXXX [ROBERT GATES, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE] will testify that the Afghanistan and Iraq SIGACT releases did not reveal any sensitive intelligence sources or methods. He will also testify that the Department of Defense could not point to anyone in Afghanistan or Iraq harmed due to the documents released by WikiLeaks. He will testify that the Afghanistan and Iraq SIGACTs are simply ground-level field reports that document dated activities which do not disclose sensitive information or our sources and methods. XXXXXXXXXX[ROBERT GATES, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE] will also testify that the initial public descriptions of the harm to foreign policy due to the publication of diplomatic cables were "fairly significantly overwrought." He will also testify that although the disclosures were embarrassing and awkward, they did not represent significant consequences to foreign policy. Finally, XXXXXXXXXX [ROBERT GATES, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE] will testify that on 29 July 2010, he directed the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to lead a comprehensive review of the documents allegedly given to WikiLeaks and to coordinate under the Information Review Task Force (IRTF, formerly TF 725) to conduct a complete damage review. He will testify that the damage review confirmed that the alleged leaks represented a low to at best moderate risk to national security. Specifically, that all of the information allegedly leaked was either dated, represented low-level opinions, or was already commonly understood and know due to previous public disclosures." [For "fairly significantly overwrought" quote, see DOD News Briefing with Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen from the Pentagon, November 30, 2010]

On January 16, 2012, Manning's defense files a supplemental deposition request with the Government:

"c. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXX [DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES] will testify that the Afghanistan and Iraq SIGACT release did not reveal any sensitive intelligence sources or methods. He will also testify that the Department of Defense could not point to anyone in Afghanistan or Iraq who was harmed due to the documents released by WikiLeaks. He will testify that the Afghanistan and Iraq SIGACTs are simply ground-level field reports that document dated activities which do not disclose sensitive information or our sources and methods. XXXXXXXXXX [SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES] will also testify that the initial public descriptions of the harm to foreign policy due to the publication of diplomatic cables were "Fairly significantly overwrought." He will also testify that on 29 July 2010, he directed the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to lead a comprehensive review of the documents allegedly govern to WikiLeaks and to coordinate under the Information Review Task Force (IDTF, formerly TF 725) to conduct a complete damage review. He will testify that the damage review confirmed that the alleged leaks represent a low to, at best moderate risk to national security. Specifically, he will testify that all the information allegedly leaked was ether dated, represented low-level opinions, or was already commonly understood and known due to previous public disclosures. The requested deposition is needed due to the Article 32 Investigating Officer's improper determination that XXXXXXXXXX [FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES] was not reasonably available at the Article 32 hearing. XXXXXXXXXX [FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES] was an essential witness and should have been produced in person at the Article 32 hearing." [For Gate's quote "fairly significantly overwrought" see DOD News Briefing with Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen from the Pentagon, November 30, 2010]

Col. Carl Coffman

Col. Carl Coffman

On January 18, 2012, Col. Carl R Coffman, Commander of Joint Base Myer and Special Court Martial Convening Authority, denies Manning defense's request to conduct oral depositions of "essential witnesses" including Robert Gates, Former Secretary of Defense, and Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary of Management, State Department, concerning the Information Review Task Force damage assessments. Coffman determined that the "difficulty, expense, and/or effect on military operations outweighed the significance of the expected testimony," despite the possibility of the death penalty for Manning.

On January 20, 2012, defense files a discovery request for information about the damage assessments including the Information Review Task Force.

"c.) Does the Government possess any report, damage assessment, or recommendation by the Information Review Task Force (IRTF) concerning the alleged leaks in this case? If yes, please indicate why these items have not been provided to the Defense. If no, please indicate why the Government has failed to secure these items"

On February 16, 2012, defense files Motion to Compel Discovery.

On March 23, 2012, Judge Lind orders Government to report on whether DIA (among others) had any "investigative files relevant to this case on".

In the defense Motion to Compel Discovery on 10 May 2012:

On April 20, 2012, the government responds to the court ruling dated March 23, 2012 that "the DIA does not have any investigative files relevant to the case."

On April 9 to 13, 2012, the government provides Defense 12 pages of Brady material revealing that the DIA did have "what the Defense would consider 'an investigation' into the alleged leaks."

"6. In its Ruling on 23 March 2012 (Appellate Exhibit XXXI [31]), the Court ordered the Government to report on whether DIA (among others) had any "investigative files relevant to this case." The Government responded on 20 April 2012 that DIA did not have any investigative files relevant to this case. This was surprising to the Defense given that the 12 pages of Brady material that the Government had provided a week earlier revealed that the DIA did have what the Defense would consider "an investigation" into the alleged leaks."

Defense refers to an April 17, 2012 dated HQDA [executive part of the Department of the Army at the seat of Government] file and email from Ashden Fein, Government prosecutor concerning the DIA investigations and damage assessments.

"Further, that the HQDA [Headquarters, Department of the Army is the executive part of the Department of the Army at the seat of Government] file related to the 17 April 2012 request be produced under R.C.M. 701(a)(2) and 701(a)(6).

[...]

3. The Defense does not request any witnesses be produced for this motion. [FOOTNOTE 1 The Defense requests the testimony of Ambassador Patrick Kennedy for the purposes of this motion if the Government maintains that the damage assessment items listed for the DOS within paragraph 16, infra, do not exist.] The Defense requests that this Court consider the following evidence in support of this motion:

a. Appellate Exhibits VIII [8], XXVI [26] XXXI [31], XXXVI [36], XLIX [49], XLVIII [49], and LXVIII [68]
b. Unofficial Transcript, 23 February 2012
c. Attachment A (Department of the Army Memorandum dated 17 April 2012)
d. Attachment B (Email from Ashden Fein, 17 April 2012)

According to the May 10, 2012, defense Motion to Compel Identification of Brady Materials:

"4. To date the Government has provided the Defense with twelve (12) pages of Brady material taken from an assessment/investigation/working document review by the Office of the National Counterintelligence executive (ONCIX), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and the Information Review Task Force (IRTF) of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). See Attachment to Appellate Exhibit XXXI [23]."

Resources

Alexa O'Brien Alexa O'Brien is a investigative journalist. Her work has been published in The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Guardian UK, Salon, The Daily Beast, and featured on the BBC, PBS Frontline, On The Media, Democracy Now!, and Public Radio International. In 2013, she was shortlisted for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in the UK and listed in The Verge 50.