US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning has pleaded guilty on 10 counts involving disclosing information to an unauthorized person, but has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, including "aiding the enemy." On Thursday afternoon, military judge Colonel Denise Lind accepted Manning's guilty pleas, while prosecutors said they plan to pursue the 12 contested charges at trial. The guilty pleas cover less serious offenses of misusing classified information and carry a combined maximum sentence of 20 years. If convicted of aiding the enemy, Manning could be imprisoned for life.
This week, word began to leak that Manning would plead guilty to some charges but not others. According to The Guardian and corroborated by other news sources, Manning's guilty pleas confirm that he was Wikileaks' principal source for the following:
the so-called "collateral murder" video of an Apache helicopter attack in Iraq; some US diplomatic cables including one of the early WikiLeaks publications the Reykjavik cable; portions of the Iraq and Afghanistan warlogs, some of the files on detainees in Guantanamo; and two intelligence memos.
Manning denies intentionally helping Al-Qaeda; prosecutors seek life in prison
Manning denied that while transmitting this information to WikiLeaks he had "reason to believe such information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation." Manning's prosecutors have charged that through leaking this information, he knowingly gave help to Al-Qaeda. They also charge that by helping to make classified information available on the internet, he knowingly made it accessible to the enemy, which Manning also denies. (Under the United States Code of military justice, aiding the enemy carries a penalty up to and including death. Prosecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty in Manning's case.)
35-page personal statement details Manning's actions and motives
In court, Manning read an extended personal statement under oath detailing both what he did and his motives for doing so. The document is believed to have been written and hand-typed by Manning himself, running 35 pages.
Manning contacted NYT and WaPo first
In the personal statement, Manning says that before contacting Wikileaks, he had a brief conversation with a reporter at The Washington Post and left a message with The New York Times containing his email and Skype address that was never returned. Neither the Post nor the Times, he said, took him seriously. Manning says he also tried to contact Politico before ultimately deciding to publish the materials through Wikileaks. According to Manning, he had extended online conversations with a Wikileaks member calling himself "Ox," who Manning assumes was Julian Assange.
According to The Daily Telegraph's Raf Sanchez, Manning said "I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan was a target that needed to be engaged and neutralized." According to The New York Times' Charlie Savage, Manning said that he believed the "world would be a better place" if the public saw sensitive cables from the US State Department filled with gossip; the US might be "embarrassed" but would suffer no real harm. Manning also said that he was horrified by the "bloodlust" of the US soldiers in the "collateral damage" video, and that no one at Wikileaks pressured him to reveal information or break the law. Manning calls these "my own decisions, and I take full responsibility for my actions."
"I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan was a target that needed to be engaged and neutralized."
According to an earlier article by The Guardian, the document describes in detail an incident referenced in his now-public chat logs with Adrian Lamo, the hacker who informed military authorities of Manning's actions. In today's statement, Manning said he was particularly upset that Wikileaks did not publish information about this account. (In the chat excerpt below, Manning is identified as "bradass87," and Lamo as "email@example.com.")
(02:31:02 PM) bradass87: i think the thing that got me the most… that made me rethink the world more than anything
(02:35:46 PM) bradass87: was watching 15 detainees taken by the Iraqi Federal Police… for printing “anti-Iraqi literature”… the iraqi federal police wouldn’t cooperate with US forces, so i was instructed to investigate the matter, find out who the “bad guys” were, and how significant this was for the FPs… it turned out, they had printed a scholarly critique against PM Maliki… i had an interpreter read it for me… and when i found out that it was a benign political critique titled “Where did the money go?” and following the corruption trail within the PM’s cabinet… i immediately took that information and *ran* to the officer to explain what was going on… he didn’t want to hear any of it… he told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding *MORE* detainees…
(02:35:46 PM) firstname.lastname@example.org
:I’m not here right now
(02:36:27 PM) bradass87: everything started slipping after that… i saw things differently
(02:37:37 PM) bradass87: i had always questioned the things worked, and investigated to find the truth… but that was a point where i was a *part* of something… i was actively involved in something that i was completely against…
Today, Manning said that by revealing classified information on these topics to Wikileaks, "I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience."
As part of today's plea, Manning has also requested to be tried by a military judge alone, rather than by the military equivalent of a jury. His court-martial is currently scheduled for June 3.
Currently, Manning has been in military confinement for more than 1,000 days.