Accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning goes to military court
Army Pvt. Bradley Manning is charged with providing thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. As his military court case begins, his lawyer will try to show that the Army ignored problems with an erratic young soldier.
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“I would come in with music on a CD-RW labeled with something like ‘Lady Gaga’ … erase the music … then write a compressed split file,” he wrote. “No one suspected a thing … I listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’ while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history.”Skip to next paragraph
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“No one suspected a thing,” he allegedly wrote to a former computer hacker who eventually tipped off the FBI and Army officials. “I didn’t even have to hide anything.”
In July 2010, WikiLeaks released some 92,000 documents on the war in Afghanistan ranging from individual unit reports to broader strategy discussions, including information on civilian casualties, the strength of the Taliban, friendly fire episodes, and links between Pakistan’s intelligence services and the Taliban.
Three months later, WikiLeaks disclosed nearly 392,000 US Army field reports – the largest military leak in US history – dubbed the “Iraq War Logs.” Among other things, the information included details of torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners, secret civilian death counts, and Iran’s involvement with Shiite militias operating in Iraq.
In his exchanges, Manning talks about a devastating breakup with his boyfriend in Boston, and says, “I'm a mess…. I'm in the desert, with a bunch of hyper-masculine trigger happy ignorant rednecks as neighbors. And the only safe place I seem to have is this satellite internet connection."
Earlier this month, the Army reported that 15 people had been disciplined for failures involving Manning’s behavior and security status. One noncommissioned officer was reduced in rank for dereliction of duty.
Focusing on such failures up the chain of command may be a way of "telegraphing to the other side that it's going to be a nasty case, with a lot of dirty linen being laundered," Eugene Fidell, a former military lawyer who teaches military justice at Yale University, told Politico.com.
"It's a nice subject for an investigation,” Mr. Fidell added. “But the fact that other people permitted it to happen doesn't get him off the hook.”
In one of his online chat posts, Manning says, “I want people to see the truth."
That rationale may resound with Manning’s supporters, many of whom plan to rally on his behalf outside the gates of Fort Meade. But it carries little weight with the US Army and others concerned with the fallout of this massive leak and security breach.
"Leaking classified information and compromising US national security is always an extremely serious offense,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R) of Michigan told the Associated Press. “The ramifications of leaking classified material can be deadly for our men and woman on the front lines."
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