David House, the friend of Bradley Manning’s who has been repeatedly harassed by the government because of his support for Manning, has been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in Alexandria on Wednesday, June 15 (PDF: Letter, Directions, subpoena).
According to people familiar with the grand jury’s proceedings, the Department of Justice prosecutor in charge of the case is Tracy McCormick of the Eastern District of Virginia, whose background is in prosecuting child molester cases. This likely due to the fact that such cases usually involve computer forensics, and gives an indication that the government’s case against Manning will likely come down to what they can find on Manning’s hard drive.
House’s subpoena, like that of Rop Gonggrijp, was sloppily executed and error-ridden. It’s not known at this time if his attorneys intend to challenge that. Not a good sign for the government if prosecutors are relying on technical expertise and accuracy to make their case.
Adrian Lamo, the computer hacker who turned over the purported Manning chat logs shortly after his release from involuntary institutionalization, indicated two weeks ago that he would also be meeting the chief prosecutor in the case for the first time:
“I’m finally going to meet with the JAG officer to go over the preliminaries for the actual testimony and how they want to play out my role,” Lamo said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “It’s the first time I’ve met with them.”
While there’s no evidence that the JAG officer intends to suborn perjury, the fact that Lamo has announced he is willing to commit it will no doubt be a factor if he is ever called to testify.
As Glenn Greenwald notes this morning, one witness has already refused to answer questions or cooperate with this “pernicious investigation”:
One option for federal prosecutors when facing a witness who refuses to answer questions on this basis is to offer them immunity, meaning that nothing they say when testifying can be used to prosecute them (they can still be prosecuted, just not with the aid of anything they say while testifying). Such an offer then precludes further invocations of the self-incrimination privilege as a grounds for refusing to answer questions, as it means there is no longer any danger that the witness could incriminate themselves by testifying. In the event the government makes such an offer, the court would almost certainly compel the witness to answer questions. But at least some of those witnesses — ones who have already been subpoenaed or are likely to be — intend to refuse to answer questions anyway, risking an almost-certain finding of contempt of court, which typically carries jail terms as a means of forcing testimony.
Since all of House’s conversations with Manning were recorded by the brig, it will be interesting to learn what the prosecutor’s line of questioning will be.
Daniel Ellsberg has accused Obama of declaring a “war on whistleblowers.” Ironically, Obama just accepted an award (in private, of course) from Veal Pen all-stars Gary Bass of OMB Watch, Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive, Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, Lucy Dalglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Patrice McDermott of OpenTheGovernment.org — for his “commitment to transparency and openness.”