Finally, Bradley Manning tells his story

For three years, Bradley Manning has been jailed while the world speculated about his guilt or innocence in the release of classified material to WikiLeaks.  On Thursday, the Army Private finally had the opportunity to tell his story at a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland.  In a 35-page statement that he read aloud, Manning acknowledged sending classified documents to WikiLeaks, He said he wanted to show Americans the “true costs of war.”

“I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience,” said Manning, who spoke under oath for more than an hour.

[Update:  Audio of Bradley Manning’s statement is available here.]

Manning pleaded guilty to ten lesser charges, which the government could accept.  But, the government has indicated that it is determined to prosecute Manning on the more serious charges, which include a charge of violating the Espionage Act.  (See:  full list of charges.)  A military law specialist says “[prosecutors] want to scare the daylights out of other people.”

Manning said he took his disclosures to The Washington Post and The New York Times before giving the files to WikiLeaks.

I first called my local newspaper, The Washington Post, and spoke with a woman saying that she was a reporter. I asked her if The Washington Post would be interested in receiving information that would have enormous value to the American public.

Although we spoke for about five minutes concerning the general nature of what I possessed, I do not believe she took me seriously. She informed me that The Washington Post would possibly be interested, but that such decisions were made only after seeing the information I was referring to and after consideration by the senior editors.

I then decided to contact the largest and most popular newspaper, The New York Times. I called the public editor number on The New York Times website. The phone rang and was answered by a machine. I went through the menu to the section for news tips. I was routed to an answering machine. I left a message stating I had access to information about Iraq and Afghanistan that I believed was very important. However, despite leaving my Skype phone number and personal email address, I never received a reply from The New York Times. (from transcript by Alexa O’Brien).

That could explain The New York Times’ frequently sulky behavior toward Manning and Wikileaks.