Military Leaker Officially Charged, Assange's Claims Questioned by DOD Source
July 6, 2010 1:40 PM
A copy of Manning's charge sheet
(Source: Boing Boing)
U.S. Army Intelligence officer, SPC Bradley Manning, in uniform
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,
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.
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 --
. This contradicts previous reports.
chief Julian Assange
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.
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."
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
. 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.
have published criticism of
' and Manning's actions, while
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
it threatens the site's very existence.
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
' secure server system -- its backbone --
, 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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