Bradley Manning WikiLeaks Court Martial Starts Trial With Personal Statement

Patrick Frye

The Bradley Manning WikiLeaks court martial started today at Fort Meade.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Bradley Manning considered suicide because of the WikiLeaks case. The Bradley Manning WikiLeaks court martial will also see Manning at the witness stand.

Bradley Manning, who once served as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, admitted to leaking hundreds of thousands of United States military classified documents to WikiLeaks. The WikiLeaks documents included diplomatic cables, Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and gunsight video footage of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack that killed civilians in Baghdad.

The Bradley Manning WikiLeaks court martial could see the 25-year-old sentenced to life in prison. The most serious charge against him — aiding the enemy — is a violation of the federal Espionage Act. But Bradley Manning denies his actions constitute aiding the enemy, but he admits to wanting to provoke a public debate over United States foreign and military policy. Bradley Manning's supporters say he should be protected as a whistleblower.

As the Bradley Manning WikiLeaks court martial began the Private First Class released a personal statement that defends his release of the information. Manning believes "the world would be a better place if states would avoid making secret pacts and deals with and against each other," which became his motive for all his actions:

"As an analyst, Significant Activities or SigActs were a frequent source of information for me to use in creating work products. I started working extensively with SigActs early after my arrival at Fort Drum. ... As and analyst I viewed the SigActs as historical data. I believed this view is shared by other all-source analysts as well. SigActs give a first look impression of a specific or isolated event. This event can be an improvised explosive device attack or IED, small arms fire engagement or SAF engagement with a hostile force, or any other event a specific unit documented and recorded in real time.

In my perspective the information contained within a single SigAct or group of SigActs is not very sensitive. The events encapsulated within most SigActs involve either enemy engagements or causalities. Most of this information is publicly reported by the public affairs office or PAO, embedded media pools, or host nation HN media. ... It is my understanding that the SigAct reports remain classified only because they are maintained within CIDNE – because it is only accessible on SIPRnet. Everything on CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A to include SigAct reporting was treated as classified information."

Bradley Manning's full statement reveals all the details of how he came to have access to classified military data. Manning became aware of the WikiLeaks organization in 2009 and began following chat sessions through IRC using XChat and then eventually Jabber.

Bradley Manning's job included making backups of sensitive information. Originally, he never intended on releasing those documents but the WikiLeaks chats persuaded him to do so. Bradley Manning tried discussing with his boyfriend whether he should do it, but he "seemed confused."

Bradley Manning tries to explain his motivation this way:

"For me, the SigActs represented the on the ground reality of both the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I felt that we were risking so much for people that seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and anger on both sides. I began to become depressed with the situation that we found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year. The SigActs documented this in great detail and provide a context of what we were seeing on the ground.

"In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan. ... The more I read, the more I was fascinated with the way that we dealt with other nations and organizations. I also began to think the documented backdoor deals and seemingly criminal activity that didn't seem characteristic of the de facto leader of the free world."

Bradley Manning tried releasing the information through the Washington Post, New York Times, and Politico but never received any support. Eventually, he decided to go with WikiLeaks, releasing multiple videos and other information Bradley Manning considered to be politically controversial.

Bradley Manning believes he might have been communicating directly with Julian Assange at one point, but he also believes WikiLeaks cannot be blamed for his actions:

"Although I stopped sending documents to WLO, no one associated with the WLO pressures me into giving more information. The decisions that I made to send documents and information to the WLO and the website were my own decisions, and I take full responsibility for my actions."

What do you think about the Bradley Manning WikiLeaks court martial?