International » World

Updated: March 1, 2013 21:45 IST

Manning pleads guilty in WikiLeaks case, faces 20 years

Comment (4)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, front, is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, on Thursday.
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, front, is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, on Thursday.

The Army private arrested in the biggest leak of classified material in U.S. history pleaded guilty on Thursday to 10 charges that could send him to prison for 20 years, saying he was trying to expose the American military’s “bloodlust” and disregard for human life in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Military prosecutors said they plan to move forward with a court-martial on the 12 remaining charges against Bradley Manning, including aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence.

For the first time, Manning directly admitted leaking the material to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks and detailed the frustrations that led him to do it.

“I began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists,” the 25-year-old former intelligence analyst in Baghdad told a military judge.

The slightly built soldier from Oklahoma read from a 35-page statement through his wire-rimmed glasses for more than an hour. He spoke quickly and evenly, showing little emotion even when he described how troubled he was by what he had seen.

The judge, Col. Denise Lind, accepted his plea to 10 charges involving illegal possession or distribution of classified material. Manning was allowed to plead guilty under military regulations instead of federal espionage law, which knocked the potential sentence down from 92 years.

Manning admitted sending hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports, State Department diplomatic cables, other classified records and two battlefield video clips to WikiLeaks in 2009 and 2010.

“I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information... this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general,” Manning said.

Manning said he was appalled by 2007 combat video of an assault by a U.S. helicopter that killed 11 men, including a Reuters news photographer. The Pentagon concluded the troops mistook the camera equipment for weapons.

“The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust the aerial weapons team happened to have,” Manning said, adding that the soldiers’ actions “seemed similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.”

As for the sensitive State Department cables, he said they “documented backdoor deals and criminality that didn’t reflect the so-called leader of the free world.”

“I thought these cables were a prime example of the need for a more open diplomacy,” Manning said. “I believed that these cables would not damage the United States. However, I believed these cables would be embarrassing.”

The battlefield reports were the first documents Manning decided to leak. He said he sent them to WikiLeaks after contacting The Washington Post and The New York Times. He said he felt a reporter at the Post didn’t take him seriously, and a message he left for news tips at the Times was not returned.

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said on Thursday of the purported phone call- “This is news to us.”

The Obama administration has said the release of the documents threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America’s relations with other governments. The administration has aggressively pursued individuals accused of leaking classified material, and Manning’s is the highest-profile case.

Manning has been embraced by some left-leaning activists as a whistle-blowing hero whose actions exposed war crimes and helped trigger the Middle Eastern pro-democracy uprisings known as the Arab Spring in 2010.

The soldier said he corresponded online with someone he believed to be WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange but never confirmed the person’s identity.

WikiLeaks has been careful never to confirm or deny whether Manning was the source of the documents it has posted on the Web.

Reached by telephone in Britain on Thursday, Julian Assange would not say whether he had any dealings with Manning but called him a political prisoner and said his prosecution was part of an effort by the U.S. to clamp down on criticism of its military and foreign policy.

Mr. Assange himself remains under investigation by the U.S. and has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for the better part of a year to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex-crimes allegations.

More In: World | International | News

Respect and salute you Bradley Manning. You are a hero and an in

from:  Rahul
Posted on: Mar 3, 2013 at 13:04 IST

I salute you with full military honor Mr. Bradley Manning for your courageous and humanitarian work, it will long in not only in the history of United States but also in the history of the world. What pains Jesus went through for others you went through for us, thank you Sir

from:  Prabhakar Mishra
Posted on: Mar 1, 2013 at 23:39 IST

The USA should be very careful about punishing Bradley Manning. He has stood up for very just human causes and is a very, very brave man for exposing what we all know are excesses by the world's best paid military. Turning into killing machines is a very real threat and cannot be ignored.
If there is one thing history has taught us, it is that many individuals standing up against the excesses of their nations have been heroes over the course of human history. If the USA can celebrate "Schindler's List", it is precariously placed on a plate of hypocrisy if it doesn't accord a high degree of respect to what Bradley Manning stands for today.

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Mar 1, 2013 at 22:26 IST

What ever be his convictions he is working for Govt that requires him to
keep these things as secret.If he wants to counter he should resign his
job and join a political party .In a war situation no one can guarentee
lives of innocent people and all of us know this.This is crime and
treachury and he put the whole country to an embarassing situation.

from:  kirubakaran
Posted on: Mar 1, 2013 at 19:01 IST
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor


South Asia



Recent Article in World

In this March 24, 2015 photo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signs a condolences book for Singapore's founding father late Lee Kuan Yew at the Singapore Embassy in Tokyo.

Japanese PM to attend Lee Kuan Yew funeral

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Singapore on March 29 to attend the state funeral of former Singapore Prime Minister and its... »