Manning offers his plea

The soldier pleaded guilty to lesser offenses but not "aiding the enemy," said he tried NYT, WaPo before WikiLeaks

By Natasha Lennard

Published February 28, 2013 4:54PM (EST)

Updated, 12:50 p.m. EST: Manning is reading in full a 35-page statement that explains his decisions about leaking material to WikiLeaks. According to journalists reporting from the Fort Meade hearing, the whistle-blower is off camera in the feed streaming court proceedings to the media gallery.

In a striking revelation -- which many will see as significant indictment of the mainstream media -- Manning said that he had contacted both the New York Times and the Washington Post about the war logs before reaching out to WikiLeaks to leak the information.

"Manning said he talked to [a] person at WaPo who he did not think took him seriously when he described [the] war logs," tweeted Kevin Gosztola, following proceedings live. Manning also told the court he had planned to offer material, including the Collateral Murder video, to Politico but was unable to reach the publication's offices due to inclement weather.

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Original post: Pfc. Bradley Manning Thursday pleaded guilty to 10 charges, including being the source of a leak of state secrets to WikiLeaks. At his pretrial hearing at Fort Meade, Manning (through his attorney David Coombs) pleaded not guilty to the major charge that could see him serve life in prison -- "aiding the enemy."

Although Manning has entered the plea, it is not constitutive of an agreement with the government, who can still choose to proceed and prosecute the whistle-blower on all alleged offenses, including aiding the enemy. If Manning's plea to lesser offenses is accepted, each carries a maximum two-year prison sentence (20 years for all charges together).

The Guardian's Ed Pilkington, covering the proceedings at Fort Meade, explained that, "with Manning having pleaded not guilty to these overarching charges, the prosecution is now almost certain to press ahead to a full court-martial which is currently set for 3 June."

In advance of today's hearing Kevin Gosztola of Firedoglake laid out which lesser charges Manning pleaded guilty to and which he denied:

He is pleading guilty to unauthorized disclosure of the following: a combat engagement video of a helicopter gunship [Collateral Murder]; an Army intelligence agency memorandum [DoD report on WikiLeaks posing a threat]; certain records of the Combined Information Data Network Exchange (CIDNE) Iraq database [Iraq War Logs]; certain records of the CIDNE Afghanistan database [Afghan War Logs]; certain files that belong to SOUTHCOM on Guantanamo detainees ["Gitmo Files"]; a number of State Department cables; a specific cable, Reykjavik 13, from Iceland; and another intelligence agency memo.

Manning will be pleading not guilty to “aiding the enemy”; Espionage Act violations, federal larceny statute violations and violations to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). He will not be pleading guilty to the theft of government documents, databases and/or videos. He will not be pleading guilty to stealing a global address list for US personnel in Iraq (emails and phone numbers).

Gosztola noted Thursday, liveblogging the hearing, that "Manning pled guilty to all that was anticipated except he did not plead guilty to releasing Granai air strike video."

In another major development, Manning will be allowed Thursday to read out, in full, a 35-page statement that explains his decisions about leaking material to WikiLeaks.

Manning also Thursday confirmed that it is his preference to by tried by a military judge alone, as opposed to a jury. "There will be no need to sift through chat logs and anecdotes from friends, family and soldiers who served alongside him after today’s court martial proceedings at Fort Meade. Manning is pleading guilty to committing some offenses and will be sharing what was going through his mind when he decided to send the information to WikiLeaks," wrote Gosztola.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aiding The Enemy Bradley Manning Court Martial Fort Meade Whistleblower Wikileaks