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