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Bradley Manning Enters Guilty Plea

by Jason Lightner March 15th, 2013 |

Independent Ideas

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ft meade usaceThis past Monday the Freedom of the Press Foundation published the leaked audio of Bradley Manning’s statement to the military court in Fort Meade wherein he explains his motivations behind the release of hundreds of thousands of documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

The audio was released in both MP3 and OGG formats, at 63MB and 37MB respectively, clocking in at just under 1 hour and 8 minutes long. This marks the first time the American public will be able to hear the voice of PFC Bradley Manning, and offers a rare glimpse into the mind of one of the most notorious whistleblowers of our day.

In the recording, Manning went into brief detail about how he wound up in the Army, and in his assignment. He discussed the difficulties faced during basic training, and the satisfaction he felt with the mental labor of his job as an Intelligence Analyst. Manning emphasized the troubling feelings he had about the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and made it clear that his leaking of classified data was willful, albeit with good intent.

It’s revealed that Manning first went to the Washington Post with the leaks, but felt that he was not being taken seriously. After the the Post didn’t look like it would happen Manning tried the New York Times, but after leaving a message, Manning stated that he never heard back from them. He considered Politico, but a snowstorm had prevented that meeting. This left WikiLeaks, which Manning had taken an interest in during his work in the Army as the whistleblower site had previously published information that aided him in his assignments.

“I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan. It might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day.”

— PFC Bradley Manning during his Court Martial on 2013 March 11

Bradley Manning wound up pleading guilty to 10 charges out of the 22 levied against him, and requested to be sentenced not by a jury of his peers, but by the judge himself. This strategy, it is hoped, will demonstrate that Manning is willing to pay for his crimes, while avoiding the possibility of life imprisonment. The prosecution said that it will still go through with the remaining 12 charges that Manning pled not-guilty to, however, it would not seek the death penalty for the charge of espionage.

It was reported that the audio of Bradley Manning’s plea was released amidst extreme secrecy in the courtroom. No video or audio recording has been permitted, and written transcripts are extremely limited, making coverage of the case exceedingly difficult. The implications of this trial reach far and wide, over free speech rights of military servicemen, whistleblower rights, and potential implications as far as labeling Americans as enemy combatants. Everyone in the country should be paying attention to this case and, unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot that can be reported.

Regardless of whether one agrees with Bradley Manning’s actions or not, there is no doubt that the proceedings in the courtroom, and the details of the trial should be a public matter for all to see, and for all to comment on. The surreptitiousness with which the court martial is being handled is at the very least troubling, and at worst a calculated affront to the American public.

There will undoubtedly be more to come out of this high-profile case.

On a side note, I’d like to mention that NBC News’ flagship personality Rachel Maddow did an AMA recently on Reddit. It was terrible. The liberal commentator answered several softball questions, but refused to even acknowledge the two top voted questions:

  1. “Why do you and MSNBC not cover Bradley Manning?
  2. “What do you think is the single worst offense being committed by the Obama administration right now? What about the Republicans in the Senate and/or House?”

Instead, Maddow chose to answer questions about her favorite rye whiskey and dead-horse questions about partisan politics, all while ignoring the kinds of difficult questions she might have taken others to task for not answering. Tsk tsk.

(Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

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