Manning pleads guilty, hoped leaks would "cause society to reconsider" war on terror
During his military trial at Ft. Meade, Bradley Manning, age 25, plead guilty yesterday to 10 of 22 charges stemming from the submission of classified information to Wikileaks in 2010. Manning has claimed responsibility for obtaining and sharing hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. State Department documents and other materials like a controversial 2007 helicopter strike which resulted in U.S. civilian casualties.
The Army Private First Class said he had hoped to "spark a debate" over military and foreign policy and help persuade "society to reconsider" American anti-terrorism efforts.
According to Manning, he first approached the Washington Journal and the New York Times with the confidential information -- the former was not interested and the latter didn't return his voicemail. As a result, he chose Wikileaks as the method for publicizing the information.
One thing Manning made clear during the trial was that he is a man of conscience. He felt he had done the right thing. "I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience," said Manning, speaking for nearly an hour. "This was the type of information... should become public," he said.
Amongst Manning's indictments are unauthorized possession of and willful communication of classified information to Wikileaks -- particularly the "Combined Information Data Network Exchange" tables for both Iraq and Afghanistan. The young Army Intelligence officer believes these files are, "two of most significant documents of our time."
The charges Manning has confessed to could net him about 20 years in prison. However, the 25-year old Army Private plead not guilty to "aiding the enemy" -- an offense which, at its most extreme, may be punishable by life in prison.
Earlier, a judge had promised to trim 121 days from Manning's final sentence as a result of unusually harsh treatment during his detention. So far, Manning has been detained in a Virginia-based Marine installation for about three years.
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