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A copy of Manning's charge sheet  (Source: Boing Boing)

U.S. Army Intelligence officer, SPC Bradley Manning, in uniform  (Source: Wired)
Manning could face 70 years in prison for his crimes, but escapes the death penalty; DoD foes cry conspiracy

A U.S. military press release announced that a young intelligence official deeply involved with the nation's operations in Iraq has been charged with leaking confidential documents in gross violation of the U.S. Armed Force's digital policy and laws against espionage.

Pvt. 1st Class Bradley Manning, 22, of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in Iraq, a U.S. Military specialist, was charged with two separate counts under the Uniform Code of Military Justice: one encompassing the eight alleged criminal offenses, and a second detailing four non-criminal violations of Army regulations governing the handling of classified information and computers.

The biggest criminal charge facing Manning is violation of provisions with the Espionage Act, 18 U.S.C. 793(e).  While passing confidential information to foreign governments can carry the death penalty under that act, in this case it was deemed that the information passed was to an unauthorized third-party, not a foreign nation.  Sources say those charges could carry a sentence of 50 to 70 years in prison -- a sentence which could potentially be shortened for cooperation or good behavior.

DailyTech has received information from a high ranking Department of Defense source involved with the the investigation, claiming that they had received no contact from attorneys retained and hired by the site that Manning allegedly leaked to -- Wikileaks.  This contradicts previous reports.  Wikileaks chief Julian Assange had previously stated that his efforts were rebuffed by U.S. government officials, a claim the DoD source states is believed to be false.

Manning will face a UCMJ Article 32 hearing, similar to one by a US grand jury.  That hearing will end with a recommendation by the principal investigator as to whether to subject Manning to court martial and punishment.

DailyTech has been extensively reporting on the situation, since Manning's arrest in May.  Manning had allegedly leaked a pair of gun cam videos of helicopter attacks which killed civilians in 2007 and 2009.  He also may have leaked other smaller, less consequential documents.  However, the leak that ultimately proved his undoing was his decision to allegedly release 260,000 classified U.S. embassy cables.  On those cables he remarked, " Hilary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack."

That leak compelled ex-hacker Adrian Lamo whom Manning bragged of his crimes to, to turn the young man over to the Department of Defense.

Public reaction on the incident has been mixed, as evidenced by the comments received here at DailyTech.  Some accuse the U.S. Armed Forces of a vast conspiracy to cover up its wrongdoing, and call Manning a martyr for a cause. 

Others state that Manning lost any credibility as a legitimate whistleblower when he released the embassy cables, which he did not fully review.  They point out that while the gun cam release might be whistleblowing -- akin to releasing corporate documents indicting individuals in your company in criminal activity -- that the following release amounted to a direct attack on an organization, not whistleblowing.  They say that act would be akin to leaking your company's entire server records, including information on pending intellectual property.

Likewise the coverage on the issue has been sharply divided.  Wired and Cryptome have published criticism of Wikileaks' and Manning's actions, while and BoingBoing have taken a sympathetic stance. journalist Glenn Greenwald even went as far as to post to Twitter that he was having difficulty overcoming his "blinding contempt " of Lamo's actions, illustrating his clear bias.

The issue has been a serious one for all involved.  It has led to Lamo receiving death threats and becoming a reviled figure in the hacking community.  It obviously threatens to take away the freedom of Bradley Manning.  For the U.S. government it marks an embarrassing breach in information.  And for Wikileaks it threatens the site's very existence.

While Wikileaks has gained much publicity for leaking a variety of documents -- from documents indicting Kenyan officials on corruption to European banking documents -- its bread and butter has been leaking U.S. information.  Over two thirds of its pages either target the U.S. or its close ally Iraq.  That has led some to less than charitably question whether the site is behaving as a hostile foreign intelligence agency.  The site does not disclose its funding sources, other than to say funding comes from anonymous donors.

Site founder Julian Assange, a convicted hacker who has expressed anarchistic leanings in his past publications, has not made clear why his site primarily targets the U.S., disproportionately with respect to our nation's GDP and military spending levels.  He also has become increasingly fearful of U.S. retaliation in recent years, moving around the world, reportedly at great expense to the site.

As of last week Wikileaks' secure server system -- its backbone -- was dead, essentially rendering the page useless for leaking purposes.  The site has not published a leaked document in four months, but Assange is reportedly crafting a followup video to "Collateral Murder" about the 2009 airstrike.

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Does this mean
By Reclaimer77 on 7/6/2010 1:50:17 PM , Rating: 5
We're done with reading about this? Is it finally over?

RE: Does this mean
By bigdawg1988 on 7/6/2010 1:58:50 PM , Rating: 1
It was over when he got turned in. This dude is toast!
His best defense is to try to connect what he did with all the authorized "unauthorized" leaks that come from the Pentagon every day. Make a big conspiracy theory how he was a government patsy and was "authorized" to leak the documents by an unnamed higher up. Do the whole Ollie North thang and pray somebody buys it!

Poor fool....

RE: Does this mean
By Reclaimer77 on 7/6/2010 2:02:06 PM , Rating: 5
Well yeah, it's black and white to me. But Daily Tech has managed to turn this into a convoluted dramatic soap opera. I just want it to end.

RE: Does this mean
By DigitalFreak on 7/6/2010 2:59:23 PM , Rating: 5
Correction - JASON has turned this into a convoluted dramatic soap opera.

RE: Does this mean
By Anoxanmore on 7/6/2010 3:23:14 PM , Rating: 3
If you feel that bad, I can give you a hug old man. :)

Hugs are free from me, even if I'm an evil liberal.

RE: Does this mean
By MrBlastman on 7/6/2010 4:29:57 PM , Rating: 4
I just want it to end.

It can... If they would just use a firing squad. There was a time when treason would end up with that...

RE: Does this mean
By Iaiken on 7/6/2010 4:54:07 PM , Rating: 3
There was a time when treason would end up with that...

Still can in the US.

He was just lucky enough that it's been ruled that he wasn't handing information over directly to a foreign government. It strikes me as strange since through wiki leaks it is possible that he was handing over sensitive data to ALL foreign governments.

RE: Does this mean
By masamasa on 7/6/2010 5:28:46 PM , Rating: 3
The fastest way to get caught. Open your mouth and confide in someone.

RE: Does this mean
By Lord 666 on 7/6/2010 2:02:03 PM , Rating: 4
Doubtful. We'll get updates from DT about the congenial visits to both Manning and Lamo while they are in prison.

In all honesty, I've got the vibe that Manning would have been relieved of duty under DADT and possibly Lamo.

RE: Does this mean
By Anoxanmore on 7/6/2010 2:03:15 PM , Rating: 1
You know for someone who professes interest in the military Relcaimer, you sure do have double standards when it comes to stories about them.

RE: Does this mean
By MGSsancho on 7/6/2010 4:47:45 PM , Rating: 3
no we are not done, Jason Mick decided to follow the story and we bagged on him for not being through and now we are getting what we asked. I bet he is busting his ass over every article on the subject now to make sure it is complete. However he is still human and is bounce to make mistakes. We are getting from him what we asked on this issue

RE: Does this mean
By DigitalFreak on 7/6/2010 7:08:09 PM , Rating: 2
We are getting from him what we asked on this issue

Ah, no. I think most of us wanted him to drop it.

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