That Bradley Manning had unavailingly contacted the Washington Post, the New York Times and, almost, Politico, before providing WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified documents including diplomatic cables of US embassies around the world and the notorious Collateral Murder video of the Apache helicopter massacre in Baghdad in 2007 showing the killing of at least twelve, mainly civilian, people, comes as a big surprise from the pretrial hearing in Fort Meade where he for the first time took “full responsibility” for the leak, as Spencer Ackerman of Wired reports. This may be more even more amazing as Washington Post journalists, Joshua Partlow and David Finkel, had already reported on the Apache helicopter incident in 2007. As Paul Adams at BBC reports, he said, “[t]he most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust the aerial weapons team happened to have.” He compared the troops to children “torturing ants with a magnifying glass”. It would be important to get to know who Manning had actually contacted at the Washington Post to interest her in the Iraq and Afghanistan documents and who did not take “him seriously”.
Manning denied that he was compromising national security although he conceded that many of the diplomatic cables would be embarrassing. He pleaded guilty to ten of 22 charges, among them “to improperly storing classified information; having unauthorized possession of such information; willfully communicating it to an unauthorized person.” He pleaded not-guilty to 12 more charges , including “aiding the enemy and disseminating any information that he believed could harm U.S. national security.”
How it was possible that a 22-yr-old intelligence analyst and, well, outcast at “Forward Operating Base Hammer” in Iraq could access, investigate, spirit away and then leak at least half a million military and diplomatic documents (which, according to Manning, were available to “thousands” of people throughout the U.S. government) and videos has not been publicly assessed so far. The case of Bradley Manning, according to many one of the heroes of our time, is made up solely to make an example of what will happen if that happens again. His own motives for the leak are utterly noble. He “believed, and still believe… [the leaked documents] are some of the most significant documents of our time.” What he wants to reveal is, in his words, “war porn” like the Apache helicopter video. As so many, he does not feel comfortable with the situation of Guantanamo where “we found ourselves holding an increasing number of individuals indefinitely.”
If he had been the contact person at WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, whose name he apparently mispronounced throughout the hearing, had apparently not revealed his identity. Manning said, that no one at WikiLeaks had ever encouraged him to leak.
Well, whether that will help Assange or whether Manning’s confession of the lesser charges will ultimately spare him up to 20 years in prison is uncertain after all.
1 March 2013 @ 11:30 am.
Last modified March 1, 2013.