Bradley Manning, the Army private arrested in the biggest leak of classified material in U.S. history, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that could send him to prison for 20 years, saying he was trying to expose the American military’s “bloodlust” and disregard for human life in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Military prosecutors said they plan to move forward with a court-martial on 12 remaining charges against him, including aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence.
“I began to become depressed at the situation we found ourselves mired in year after year. In attempting counterinsurgency operations, we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists,” the 25-year-old former intelligence analyst in Baghdad told a military judge.
He added: “I wanted the public to know that not everyone living in Iraq were targets to be neutralized.”
It was the first time Manning directly admitted leaking the material to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks and detailed the frustrations that led him to do it.
A computer used by Paula Broadwell, the woman whose affair with CIA Director David Petraeus led to his resignation, contained substantial classified information that should have been stored under more secure conditions, law enforcement and national security officials said on Wednesday.
The contents and amount of the classified material - and questions about how Broadwell got it - are significant enough to warrant a continuing investigation, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment publicly.
The details about material held by Broadwell, a reserve officer in military intelligence, emerged Wednesday as the Pentagon suspended Broadwell’s security clearance.
Late Wednesday, the House intelligence committee announced Petraeus would testify on Friday behind closed doors about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees were briefed Wednesday on the Petraeus matter by leaders of the FBI and CIA.
There is growing concern among military and law enforcement officials about the potential fallout from the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell, who co-authored a biography of the retired general.
It’s the biggest intelligence breach in U.S. history—the leaking of more than half-a-million classified documents on the WikiLeaks website in the spring of 2010. Behind it all, stand two very different men: Julian Assange, the Internet activist and hacker who published the documents, and an Army intelligence analyst named Bradley E. Manning, who’s currently charged with handing them over. Private Manning allegedly leaked the secret cables—along with a controversial video—in the hope of inciting “worldwide discussion, debates and reforms.” Assange’s stated mission has been to force the U.S. and other governments into maximum transparency through his whistle-blowing website. Through in-depth interviews with Manning’s father, Assange, and others close to the case, veteran FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith tells the full story behind the leaks. He also reports on the U.S. government’s struggle to protect national security information in a post 9/11 world.
A long list of key facilities around the world that the US describes as vital to its national security has been released by Wikileaks.
In February 2009 the State Department asked all US missions abroad to list all installations whose loss could critically affect US national security.
The list includes pipelines, communication and transport hubs.
Several UK sites are listed, including cable locations, satellite sites and BAE Systems plants.
BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says this is probably the most controversial document yet from the Wikileaks organisation.
To date, Bradley Manning stands accused only of providing a classified video of U.S. operations in Iraq to WikiLeaks. But U.S. government officials say they consider Manning the prime suspect behind the flood of documents that have wound up being promulgated by the group determined to bust U.S. secrecy.
Manning, 23, seems like an unlikely culprit. Trained as an intelligence analyst, awarded a Top Secret clearance, deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division in 2007, he’s a mere PFC, or Private First Class, not an Aldrich Ames, the elite spy who leaked to the Soviets. Instead of working at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., or doing secret drops in Vienna, Manning’s days were spent in an air-conditioned shack inside a small forward-deployed compound in Iraq.
Skeptics of the government’s case against Manning wonder how one young soldier, operating with a couple of computers in the middle of desert, could access nationaljournal.com download so much classified information and do so undetected for so long. Indeed, it appears Manning might not have come under suspicion at all had he not confided in a reformed hacker named Adrian Lamo, and had Lamo, a civilian, not reported Manning’s musings to the U.S. Army.
But in the modern military, which relies on information as much as bullets and bunkers, it’s more easy than one might think to gain access to classified material and to disseminate it, according to interviews with numerous officials