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Bradley Manning explains chronology of leaks and his [exemplary] motivation

WISE Up | 01.03.2013 09:05 | Afghanistan | Iraq | Terror War | World

UPDATE: Verbatim transcript of Bradley Manning's Feb 28 statement now online. Thanks to Alexa O'Brien.

Yesterday in court Bradley Manning read out a long statement explaining the background to the leaks, how and why he had come to send the files to WikiLeaks, what had motivated him, what he hoped would happen as a result. This statement was not initially available, so this article has been compiled from tweets sent from the court and afterwards by Alexa O'Brien, who has been reporting on the case from the beginning.

See also reports from Kevin Gosztola | Nathan Fuller.

There will be a solidarity vigil for Bradley Manning outside the US Embassy in London today, Friday 1 March at 5pm

Bradley Manning reads out his statement - pic by Clark Stoeckley
Bradley Manning reads out his statement - pic by Clark Stoeckley


In this statement, Bradley Manning explains how it was no secret that as part of his work he had downloaded and stored the documents now known as the Iraq War Logs and Afghan War Diary for ease of access and because of problems with system crashes; these back-ups were commonly accessed by others. He describes how he had become 'depressed with the situation we [U.S.] were mired in' for which these documents 'provided context'. Brad notes that US was 'capturing and killing targets while avoiding negotiations with partners'. Brad said that he 'believed and still believe that these tables [Iraq & Afghan War logs] are two of the most significant documents of our time', that 'if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information... this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.'

He approached the Washington Post who did not take him seriously, and the New York Times where he left a message they failed to respond to. Eventually he decided to submit the documents to WikiLeaks. He was not certain they had been received but subsequently submitted the Reykjavik 13 cable to WikiLeaks and this was published within a matter of hours, after which he knew that the submission system worked.

Brad spoke in detail about the Collateral Murder video, that he had originally planned to pass on to Reuters (employers of the two journalists murdered in the attack) but had then decided to send to WikiLeaks instead, along with the Rules of Engagement. Brad describes aspects of the attack as 'similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass' and says that he 'wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq & Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized...'

Later in his testimony, he explained how he had come to leak the Guantanamo files, the US Diplomatic cables and other documents to WikiLeaks.


Alexa O'Brien (@carwinb on twitter) reports on Bradley Manning's statement to the court 28 February 2013

The first section contains Alexa's tweets sent from the court yesterday while the hearing was going on. The second section contains her tweets sent afterwards reporting Bradley Manning's statement in more detail. The third section summarises other aspects of the hearing on 28 Feb.

BRADLEY MANNING'S STATEMENT (tweets sent from court)

I am going to now tweet out some details of his statement. I will publish more details tonight.

Manning began by explaining his age, when he joined US Army, how he became an intel analyst.

He scored high and was interested in IT and Geopolitics, so his recruiter said he should consider becoming Intel Analyst.

Manning said he had difficulty dur basic training inc almst being chaptered out b/c med issues shoulder/foot, but wasn't, fought it.

Manning he said at AIT training he fit in, etc.

Manning said that he was trained as analyst to researching open source information for his work products.

Manning said then MSGT Adkins, his NCOIC, had him essentially rebuild 'incident tracker' that was a reference containing SigActs from CIDNE

Manning said he openly downloaded all CIDNE Afghanistan and Iraq on CD/R as part of his work-- back up for system crashed, faster search

Manning explained the SigActs reporting for Garrison and in Theater--

Manning explained SigActs reporting procedures-- essentially establishing his dl of large db was actually part of his tasking by Adkins.

Manning explains that he had hard copy downloads to[o], because they were helpful when communicating with his command.

Manning said SigActs-- first look, from his perspective NOT sensitive after 24-48 hours, deaths etc reported by Public Affairs, etc.

Manning said SIPRNet constantly crashing so Back Ups 1.) Physical 2.) Local Drive 3.) Shared Drive

Manning said that others could use his back ups-- housed in the conference room-- and that this was out in the open, part of his tasking

Manning if he could not be located, someone needed something-- and since SigActs were common ref for intel analysts-- etc etc

'I never hid fact I downloaded [CIDNE- Iraq or Afghan] tables...stored out in the open[']

'I viewed CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A for my use or others.'

Manning then went on to explain the 'Facts about his knowledge of WL Organization'

Manning said that he learned of the WL organization-- what he then referred to a WLO from google news and open source search after 9/11 SMS

Manning said that from his perspective as an analyst he concluded that the 9/11 SMS looked likely real--

Manning said that he had used WL's publication of weapons trafficing in one of his intel products around this time.

Manning said was trained to use open source intel in his products--used AP, Reuters, Stratfor, & WikiLeaks (that instance I just described).

His research on #WikiLeaks says #Manning starts late November 2009, early 2010-- NB charge sheet time line diff, see my coverage elsewhere

Manning found intel report (likely DIA 'WikiLeaks-- online terrorist...) on #WikiLeaks but open source intel contradicted analysis of that

In January 2010-- Manning says he joined and open forum on IRC channel for WikiLeaks.

In a sense he actually joined to collect intel on the WL organization-- how it worked, etc.

Manning characterizes open forum discussions as public, academic in nature-- at first he observed, then joined-- topics on geopolitics, etc

Manning says he joined the IRC channel on WikiLeaks at first b/c he wanted to understand how they obtained the 9/11 SMS

At some point in Feb 2010-- 'X chat' for IRC forum/WL channel no longer available-- required Jabber.

Manning says that the IRC chats helped him to felt intellectually engaged (not his words), pass time while deployed in Iraq, etc. etc.

Manning next spoke about the 'Facts of Disclosure of SigActs'--

Manning has already explained (see feed for some details, more later) what SigActs were, ref for intel analysts, had as his job made backup

Around the time right before leave, Manning started to feel that perhaps some of these SigActs belonged in the public domain (my words)

Manning mentioned that he was not sure, but wanted to think about over leave-- I will get public exact language of his motivation later.

Manning said that he placed one of these back ups in his back pocket-- at end of his shift took to housing unit-- copied to personal comp

When Manning arrived home he has a 'hypothetical' conversation about SigActs belonging in public domain with Watkins boyfriend at time--

Manning says his relationship with Watkins was already deteriorating-- he felt that the convo was confusing for Watkins-- he dropped it

Manning says that he as he pondered whether to disclose SigActs-- he wasn't thinking of WikiLeaks--

There was a blizzard in MD at this time-- he was on leave-- left Watkins in MA, they were sort of breaking up

Manning re SigActs 'felt we were risking so much' 'began to become depressed w/ situation we [U.S.] were mired in'

Manning says 'SigActs provided context'-- COIN OPS-- We were 'capturing and killing targets while avoiding negotiations with partners'

Manning says debated disclosing SigActs while at aunt's (he's on leave) to 'his local paper, The Washington Post'

Manning says he spoke to person at The Washington Post— 'Lady did not take me seriously...'

Manning 'Then I called NYT's told them I had access to information re Iraq and Afghanistan'-- never received a reply from NYT's.

Then Manning considered Politico-- only then did he consider the WikiLeaks organization.

Manning 'Based upon what I read about WLO — they seemed best for publishing information to world'

Manning said joined IRC #WikiLeaks public channel 'someone asked how to describe info, then another point'd me to online submission system'

3 Feb 2010, 'I visited WL [website] and clicked on submit docs'-- Next found 'submit your info'-- was via onion Tor-- He explains Tor.

Manning 'I followed prompts and attached data files--'

Manning said noted information 'already been sanitized' 'revealing the true nature asymmetric warfare' 'wait 90-120 days'

Wait folks it gets better. #Manning

When he returned to Iraq-- Manning said he felt better-- 'felt had accomplished something to have a clear conscience'

Manning then spoke about 'Facts..Reykjavik 13' (btw/ I wish someone was here from Icelandic Press-- Iceland featured greatly in statement)

Guys, we are going to go in. Let me do this-- will type rest in post from 'Reykjavik 13' onward and post-- then transcript tonight

Manning uploaded SigActs from a Barnes and Noble near Rockville, MD.

We are in recess--

Just a quick note-- #Manning is in a colloquy with the Judge who is asking him by element what he has pled to--

NEXT BIT Facts around Reykjavik 13 #Manning Qualification-- this is rushed, and (cont) at twitlonger

Facts around Reykjavik 13

Qualification-- this is rushed, and in my words unless in quotes. I will type a proper transcript tonight. #MANNING

Manning says he first learned about NetCentric diplomacy database from Captain Steven Lim. He was given instructions to look at the database and incorporate the intelligence into his work product.

[See from Article 32 CPT Lim: 'I gave them link through email. Got from headquarters. They said pass along. Felt at time we were so focused on the ground, and needed bigger picture' LINK here.

Around this time-- early mid January 2010, Manning says he began looking for information on Iceland, based on discussions on the IRC channel. He did not find anything discussing ICESAVE. Manning then conducted an open source search for information on ICESAVE. Based on open source information -- he learned that UK was using anti-terrorism legislation against Iceland-- explains ICESAVE questionable incompetence (my words) banking practices, etc.

He then returned to the NetCentric db-- that housed the US State Department cables-- to look for references to Iceland and ICESAVE. He said 'iceland being bullied by US and two euro powers'

After digesting the contents of Reykjavik 13-- at this point WL had not acknowledged receipt of SigActs for Iraq and Afghanistan through anonymous submission system. Manning says he burned a CD-- brought to CHU (Containerized Housing Unit)-- went to WL secure via TOR-- within hours it was posted. Then he knew WikiLeaks submission system worked.


Manning says 'CIDNE system contains a db that is used by thousands of DoD personel including soldiers, civilians, and contractors support'

'I first became vaguely aware of the WLO during my AIT at Fort Huachuca, Arizona...'

'I found the US Army Counter Intelligence Center rpt on the WikiLeaks organization.' (con't)

'After reviewing the [USACIC] rpt [on WL], I believed that this rpt was possibly the one that my AIT ref'd in early 2008.' (con't)

'After reviewing the [USACIC] report [on WL], I continued doing research on WLO.'

'H/w, based upon my open-source collection, I discovered info that contradicted the 2008 USACIC report [on WL]...' (con't)

(con't) 'incl info that indicated that similar to other press agencies, WLO seemed..dedicated..exposing illegal activ's & corruption'

'I followed several orgs & grps incl wire press agencies such as the AP and Reuters and private intel agencies including Stratfor'

'This practice was something I was trained to do dur Advanced Indiv Training & was something that good analyst were expected to do'

'During the searches of WLO, I found several pieces of info that I found useful in my work product in my wrk as an analyst' (con't)

'specifically I recall WLO publishing documents related to weapons trafficking between two nations that affected my OP' (con't)

'I integrated this information [on weapons trafficking from the WL website] into one or more of my work products.'

'At that time I believe[d] & still believe that these tables are 2 of the most significant doc of our time'

[The tables are the CIDNE-I (became Iraq War Logs) and the CIDNE-A (Afghan War Diary) releases.]

'On 8 Jan 2010 I collected the CD-RW I stored in the conf room of the T-SCIF & placed it into the cargo pocket of my ACUs'

'At the time I saved the SigActs to my laptop, I planned to take them with me on mid-tour leave and decide what to do with them.'

'For me the SigActs represented the on the ground reality of both the conflicts in Iraq & Afghanistan'

'I felt that we were risking so much for ppl that seemed unwilling to cooperate w/ us leading to frustration & anger on both sides'

'I began to become depressed w the situation that we found ourselves increasingly mired in yr after yr'

'The SigActs documented this in great detail and provide a context of what we were seeing on the ground.'

'In attempting to conduct counterterrorism & counterinsurgency ops we became obsessed w capturing & killing human targets on lists'

'...and not being suspicious of & avoiding cooperation w our host nation partners...'

'...and ignoring the 2nd and 3rd order effects of accomplishing short-term goals & missions.'

'I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within...'

'...the CIDNE-I & CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general'

'I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by diff sectors of society might cause...'

'society to reevaluate need/desire to engage in CT/COIN ops that ignore complex dynamics of ppl living in effected environ everyday'

'At this point I decided that it made sense to try to expose the SigAct tables to an American newspaper.'

'I asked her if the Washington Post would be interested in receiving info that would have enormous value to the American public.'

[At that point, a baby started whimpering.]

'Although we spoke for about five minutes concerning the general nature of what I posessed, I do not believe she took me seriously'

'I then decided to contact [missed wrd] the most popular newspaper The NYTs I called the public editor number on The NYTs website'


'I went through the menu to the section for news tips. I was routed to and 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.'

'I also briefly considered dropping into office for..Politco, h/w weather conditions during my leave hampered my efforts to travel'

'After these failed efforts I had ultimately decided to submit the materials to the WLO.'

'I was not sure if WLO would actually pub these SigAct tables..I was concerned that they might not be noticed by..American media'

'H/w based on what I read about WLO thru my research described above..seemed best med for pub'ing this info to world w/i my reach'

'On 3 Feb 2010, I visited the WLO website on my computer and clicked on the submit documents link.'

'I was familiar w/TOR & had it previously anonymously monitor social media sites of militia grps..w/i central Iraq'

[On the WL submit prompt] 'I attached a text file I drafted while preparing to provide the docs to the Washinton Post'

"[The text file] provided rough guidelines saying 'It's already been sanitized of any source identifying information...'"

"'...You might need to sit on this info-- perhaps 90 to 100 days to figure out how bst to release such a large amount of data...'"

"'...and to protect its source. This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time removing the fog of war...'"

"'...and revealing the true nature of twenty-first century assymetric warfare.'"

'After digesting the contents of 10 Reykjavik 13 I debated whether this was something I should send to the WLO.'

'At this point the WLO had not published or acknowledged receipt of the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables.'

'I burned the information [Reykjavik 13] onto a CD-RW on 15 February 2010, took it to my CHU, and saved it onto my personal laptop'

'I navigated to the WLO website via a TOR connection like before and uploaded the document [Reykjavik 13] via the secure form'

'Amazingly when WLO pub'ed 10 Reykjavik 13 w/i hours, proving that the form worked & that they must have received the SigAct tables'

'The [collateral murder]video depicted several individuals being engaged by an aerial weapons team.'

'At first I didnt consider vid very special as I've viewed countless other war porn type vids depicting combat'

'H/w recording of audio comments by the aerial weapons team crew & 2nd engagement in vid of an unarmed bongo truck troubled me'

'As Showman & few other analysts & officers in T-SCIF commented on vid & debated whether crew violated rules of engagement...'

'... in the second engagement, I shyed away from this debate, instead conducting some research on the event'

Accd to news rpt "CENTCOM replied to Reuters stating that they couldn't give time frame for considering FOIA req"

'...and [CENTCOM replied to Reuters in this news account] that the video may no longer exist...'

'Another story..written a year later said [Reuters] still didn't receive a formal response/written determination in accord w/ FOIA'

'The fact neither CENTCOM or Multi National Forces Iraq wouldn't voluntarily release video troubled me further.'

'...clear to me that event happened b/c aerial weapons team mistakenly identified Reuters employees as a potential threat...'

"The people in the van were not a threat but merely 'good samaritans.'"

'The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however was the seemly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.'

'At one point in the vid there is an indiv on the ground attempting to crawl to saftey. The individual is seriously wounded.'

'...aerial weapons team crew mbrs verbally asks for wounded person to pick up weapon so that he can have a reason to engage...'

'For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.'

'As I cont'ed my research, I found an article discussing the book The Good Soldiers written by WP writer David Finkel.'

'I quickly realize that Mr. Finkel was quoting, I feel in verbatim, the audio communications of the aerial weapons team crew.'

'It is clear to me that Mr. Finkel obtained access and a copy of the video during his tenure as an embedded journalist.'

'I was aghast at Mr. Finkel's portrayal of the incident.'

"Reading his acct one w'd believe engagement was somehow justified as payback 4 earlier attack that lead to death of a soldier'

'Mr. Finkel ends his account by discussing how a soldier finds an individual still alive from the attack.'

'He writes soldier finds him & sees him gesture w/ his 2 forefingers together- common method in ME communicate they're friendly'

'However, instead of assisting him, the soldier makes an obscene gesture extending his middle finger.'

'The individual apparently dies shortly thereafter.'

'Reading this I can only think of how this pers was simply trying to help others & then he quickly finds he needs help as well'

'To make matter worse, in the last moments of his life, he continues to express his friendly gesture..'

'...only to find himself receiving this well known gesture of unfriendliness.'

'For me it's all a big mess & I am left wondering what these things mean, & how it all fits together[.] It burdens me emotionally'

'On 15 February 2010 these [ROE] docs onto a CD-RW, the same time I burned the 10 Rekyavik 13 cable onto a CD-RW'

'I planned on providing this to the Reuters office in London.'

'H/w after WLO published 10 Reykjavik 13 I altered my plans. I decided to provide the vid and the rules of engagement to them'

'I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq & Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized...'

'..but rather ppl who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environ of what we call assymetric warfare'

'Facts regarding unauthorized storage & disclosure of docs rel to the detainments by the Iraqi Federal Police'

'2 Mar 2010 I received instructions from S3 section officer in 2/10 BCT TOC to investigate [15 dissidents, anti-Iraqi literature]'

'These photos included pics of indiv, pallets of unprinted paper & seized copies of final printed material' (**MORE** detainees)

[NB The printing press is the leitmotif in this tragic tale.]

"They told me to 'drop it' & to just assist them & the FP in finding out, where more of these print shops creating anti-Iraqi lit'

'If I cont'd to assist Baghdad Fed Police identifying political opponents of PM al-Maliki those ppl...' (**MORE** detainees)

'...would be arrested & in the custody of the Special Unit of the Baghdad Fed Police...' (***MORE*** detainees)

'...and very likely tortured & not seen again for a very long time-- if ever.' (***MORE*** detainees)

'Instead of assisting the Special Unit of the Baghdad Federal Police, I decided to take the information and expose it to the WLO'


While Manning has pled to one spec as charged and 9 specs to lesser included he has not been 'found' guilty cont

The government will go to trial to try the 'greater offenses' and the judge will 'find' his plea of guilt later--

Further-- the judge found the plea provident-- voluntary etc. Manning is not convicted at this point.

As anticipated #Manning plead guilty to LIO for 1030(a)(1)'s & 793(e)'s EXCEPT Garani Vid Spec 11 Charge II He plead NOT GUILTY to GaraniVid

Manning defense stripped out espionage language from those specs that he actually plead to LIOs in 793(e) and 1030(a)(1) charges--

When #Manning plead guilty to LIO's for all 793(e) and 1030(a)(1) charges -- EXCEPT GARANI VID, he substituted time frame/dates.

As expected-- when #Manning plead to LIO for 793(e)'s except Garani-- used as substitutes 'unauth possession' & 'wilfull communication'

Within 1030(a)(1)-- #Manning did DID NOT PLEAD GUILTY to "exceeding authorized access" IMPORTANT-- !! See more here.

Manning says that no one at #WikiLeaks pressured him-- that he acted voluntarily and takes full responsibility for his decisions.

He is currently exposed to 20 years as a MAX punishment by his plea today.

United States versus Pfc. #Manning is in one regard is a trial of established American media. How it will be remembered. Mark my words.

- e-mail: wiseupforbm [at]
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