AP, CNN, REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES (U.S.), THE GUARDIAN (UK)
FORT MEADE- Wikileaks whistleblower, Bradley Manning pleaded guilty on Thursday to 10 of the 22 charges he is accused of in what the U.S. government calls the largest leak of classified documents in the nation’s history, writes CNN.
There are many moving parts to this story. Here are the five things you need to know about the pre-trial hearings.
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WHY? Private first class Manning is in military court in Maryland and has refuted the most serious charge on him: aiding the enemy. The AP reports that Manning believed the information wouldn't harm the U.S. and he decided to release it because he was upset by way the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were being conducted.
“I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience,” he said Thursday during nearly an hour of testimony. Manning said that too often American troops disregarded the lives of the ordinary people there. “In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists.”
WIKILEAKS AS LAST RESORT Wikileaks wasn’t the first place that Manning turned to while on leave in January 2010. According to CNN, Manning said that he first called The Washington Post and wasn’t taken seriously. He then called The New York Times and got no response, so he finally decided to send the documents to the Wikileaks organization. His intention was to spark a public debate about foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, writes the New York Times.
BRUTAL REALITY The reports that were released added up to a history of the “day-to-day reality” in both war zones that he believed showed the flaws in the counterinsurgency policy the United States was then pursuing according to the New York Times. In February 2010, after he returned to Iraq, Private Manning sent more files to WikiLeaks, including a video of a 2007 incident in Iraq in which American forces killed a group of men, including two Reuters journalists, and then fired again on a van that pulled up to help the victims.
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OPENING UP? His trial has been called a “theatre of the absurd” by Michael Ratner, attorney for Wikileaks and Julian Assange in the U.S., as quoted in The Guardian. The media and public have been denied all access to evidence, court documents, court orders and discussions that will eventually seal Manning’s fate. Thursday was the first time that Manning offered his own version of events.
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INCARCERATIONReuters says that Manning has been held at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia for more than 1,000 days now. On Tuesday, a military judge reduced any sentence that he is finally given by 112 days because of the harsh treatment he received during his detention. Manning said he was stripped to his underwear every night and forced to sit "in essential blindness", without his prescription eyeglasses. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for the 10 charges he pled guilty to on Thursday. If he is convicted of aiding the enemy he faces life imprisonment.