Secrecy News

Bradley Manning Takes Responsibility

At an open hearing on February 28, Pfc. Bradley Manning said that he was responsible for providing U.S. government documents to the WikiLeaks website, including a large collection of U.S. State Department cables, a video of a brutal U.S. Army helicopter attack in Baghdad, and other records.

“The decisions that I made to send documents and information to the WLO [WikiLeaks Organization] and website were my own decisions, and I take full responsibility for my actions,” he told the military court.

The Army belatedly released a redacted copy of Pfc. Manning’s statement yesterday. [Correction: The redacted statement was released by Manning’s defense counsel, David E. Coombs.] (An unofficial version had been privately transcribed by Alexa O’Brien soon after the hearing.)

The Freedom of the Press Foundation obtained an audio recording of the statement, which it released online.

Manning eloquently expressed his motivations for the unauthorized disclosures, including the need to expose corruption and deception in the conduct of diplomacy and military operations. He described the efforts he made to weigh the possible damage that might result from disclosure, and the judgment he made that release of the records was the appropriate step.

But he did not acknowledge that any other individuals had been placed at risk by his actions, nor did he take responsibility for any consequences they might suffer. Taliban leaders said in 2010 that they were scrutinizing the Afghanistan war records published by WikiLeaks and that they would “punish” persons listed in the records who were found to have cooperated with the U.S. military.


2 thoughts on “Bradley Manning Takes Responsibility

  1. The Washington Post reports that “nearly half a million government employees and contractors with security clearances” had access to the U.S. State Department cables allegedly leaked.

    Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, said a Department of Defense review determined that the publication of the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diary– had “not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods.”

    The government must prove the “disclosure could be ‘potentially damaging to the United States'” and provide “independent proof of at least potential harm to the national security” beyond mere classification, writes law professor and author, Geoffrey Stone.

    In an attempt to bolster their case, prosecutors have prevented defense from presenting any evidence about the lack of actual damage from the alleged leaks at his trial, instead relegating it to sentencing.

    Reuters reported that government reviews of the release of Department of State “diplomatic cables caused only limited damage to U.S. interests abroad despite the Obama administration’s public statements to the contrary.” “We were told (the impact of WikiLeaks revelations) was embarrassing but not damaging,” a congressional official, briefed by the State Department, told the news outlet. The “Obama administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers,” the official told Reuters.

    Adding tragic irony to the government’s allegation of “probable harm” in the face of excluded evidence about the lack of actual damage from the alleged leaks; and the government’s attempt to block over classification evidence, while refusing to declassify any of the 300,000 pages of low-level classified, unclassified, or publicly available information allegedly leaked and “cause[d] to be published…on the internet” by Manning– and arguably WikiLeaks, The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel– prosecutors have chosen to declassify only one set of documents obtained at the May 2011 raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound for use at trial in it’s case against Manning for aiding the enemy. The declassified evidence includes a letter from bin Laden to a member of Al Qaeda requesting Department of Defense information and a letter back to bin Laden attached to which were all the Afghan War Logs and “Department of State information”.

    The government did not mention a video of Osama bin Laden reported by the AFP, recommending Obama’s War by Bob Woodward. Former constitutional lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald asks, why Woodward and his high level sources have not been similarly charged with aiding Al Qaeda. Writes Greenwald, “This question is even more compelling given that Woodward has repeatedly published some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets, including information designated “Top Secret” – unlike WikiLeaks and Manning, which never did.”

  2. What this young, clueless man did, was to totally ignore the values and training that should have been instilled in him during his Army career. His decision and actions assume that he completely understood our government’s motivation for this war and its progression. Bradley Manning is obviously ignorant and self-absorbed.

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