Bradley Manning's continued moral resolve is unflinching, and heroic. At his court hearing Friday, he plead guilty to ten of the 22 charges facing him, including, most famously, that he had verily provided the anti-secrecy organization, WikiLeaks, with classified and sensitive military, diplomatic and intelligence cables, videos and documents.
Manning maintains that the documents he disclosed are "some of the most significant documents of our time." Indeed, they revealed an incredible multitude of hitherto secret crimes and acts of deceit, cruelty and corruption by the world's most powerful militaristic and intelligence factions. As Glen Greenwald writes:
This was all achieved because a then-22-year-old Army Private knowingly risked his liberty in order to inform the world about what he learned. He knew exactly what he was risking, what he was likely subjecting himself to. But he made the choice to do it anyway because of the good he believed he could achieve, because of the evil that he believed needed urgently to be exposed and combated, and because of his conviction that only leaks enable the public to learn the truth about the bad acts their governments are doing in secret.
Of equal import, is that on Friday Bradley pleaded not guilty to the most serious offense, which could grant him life in prison – "the capital offense of aiding and abbetting the enemy". Manning stood ground that nothing he did was intended to nor did it result in harming US National Security. Rather, his motivation in leaking, he said, was to "spark a domestic debate of the role of the military and foreign policy in general, [and to] cause society to reevaluate the need and even desire to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore their effect on people who live in that environment every day".
As Wired's Spencer Ackerman reported:
Manning came to view much of what the Army told him – and the public – to be false, such as the suggestion the military had destroyed a graphic video of an aerial assault in Iraq that killed civilians, or that WikiLeaks was a nefarious entity. Manning said he was frustrated by his failed attempts to get his chain of command to investigate apparent abuses detailed in the documents he accessed.
When Manning first learned of the serious abuses and illegalities while serving in the Iraq war – including detaining Iraqi citizens guilty of nothing other than criticizing the Malaki government – he brought those abuses to his superiors, but was ignored.
Manning said he first approached three news outlets: the Washington Post, New York Times and Politico before approaching WikiLeaks. On Friday, he repeatedly denied having been encouraged by WikiLeaks to obtain and leak the documents, thereby denying the US government a key part of its attempted prosecution of the whistleblowing group. Instead, Manning courageously took 'full responsibility' for a decision that will likely land him in prison (where he has already been confined in conditions the UN's torture investigator labels "cruel and inhumane") for the next 20 years – and tentatively, the rest of his life.
Manning explained that he leaked because he thought the world deserved to know what he learned: "I want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public." He explained that he did not sell the documents to a foreign government for profit – which he obviously could have done with ease – because his aim is that information like this should be publicly available in order to trigger "worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms".
Read more here.
Bradley's full statement from Friday is here.
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