U.S. sol­dier is charged in leaks of video, ca­bles

Austin American-Statesman - - WEDNESDAYBRIEFING - By David Dishneau

PO­TOMAC, Md. — With cus­tom-made “hu­man­ist” dog­tags and dis­trust of author­ity, Bradley Man­ning was no con­ven­tional sol­dier.

Os­tra­cized by peers in Baghdad, busted for as­sault­ing a fel­low sol­dier and dis­dain­ful of the mil­i­tary’s inat­ten­tion to com­puter se­cu­rity, the 22year-old in­tel­li­gence an­a­lyst styled him­self a “hac­tivist.”

The Army charged him Tues­day with mul­ti­ple counts of mis­han­dling and leak­ing clas­si­fied data and putting na­tional se­cu­rity at risk.

Man­ning is sus­pected of leak­ing a clas­si­fied video that shows a group of men walk­ing down the street in Iraq be­fore be­ing re­peat­edly shot by Apache he­li­copters.

He has also been charged with down­load­ing more than 150,000 highly clas­si­fied diplo­matic ca­bles that could re­veal the in­ner work­ings of U.S. em­bassies, the mil­i­tary said. He dis­closed at least 50 of the ca­bles “to a per­son not en­ti­tled to re­ceive them,” ac­cord­ing to the charges.

In a se­ries of on­line chats in late May, Man­ning claimed he had leaked a stag­ger­ing 260,000 clas­si­fied diplo­matic re­ports, along with se­cret video of U.S. troops killing civil­ians, to the whistle­blower web­site Wik­ileaks.org.

Wik­ileaks in April posted a video shot from a cock­pit in 2007, of ex­cited, laugh­ing U.S. troops gun­ning down a group of men that in­cluded a Reuters news pho­tog­ra­pher and his driver. An in­ter­nal mil­i­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cluded the troops acted ap­pro­pri­ately, hav­ing mis­taken cam­era equip­ment for weapons.

Man­ning’s on­line con­fi­dant, for­mer out­law com­puter hacker R. Adrian Lamo, re­ported their chats to U.S. au­thor­i­ties in late May, partly out of con­cern, he says, that na­tional se­cu­rity was at stake.

Ac­cord­ing to par­tial chat logs Lamo shared first with Wired.com, Man­ning started com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Lamo on May 21, a cou­ple of weeks af­ter he was re­duced in rank from spe­cial­ist to pri­vate first class for as­sault­ing a sol­dier.

In one of many per­sonal asides, Man­ning told Lamo he had been the only non­re­li­gious per­son in a town — he is from Cres­cent, Okla. — that had “more pews than peo­ple,” and that he had cus­tom-made dog­tags read­ing “hu­man­ist.”

Man­ning said he faced dis­charge for an “ad­just­ment dis­or­der,” ac­cord­ing to the chat logs, but Army spokesman Lt. Col. Eric Bloom said Man­ning wasn’t fac­ing dis­charge when he was de­tained May 29.

The chats re­veal Man­ning’s frus­tra­tion at be­ing “reg­u­larly ig­nored” at work.

“I’ve been iso­lated so long,” he wrote. “I just wanted to be nice, and live a nor­mal life … but events kept forc­ing me to fig­ure out ways to sur­vive … smart enough to know what’s go­ing on, but help­less to do any­thing.”

The Army said Tues­day in a state­ment that a mil­i­tary ver­sion of a grand jury hear­ing will de­ter­mine if Man­ning should face a trial by court­mar­tial.

This im­age from a U.S. at­tack heli­copter shows a group of men just be­fore the heli­copter opened fire on them. A U.S. sol­dier is ac­cused of leak­ing the video to the web­site Wik­ileaks.org.

Bradley Man­ning is charged with mis­han­dling clas­si­fied data.

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