For the first time, 25-year-old U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning has admitted to being the source behind the largest leak of state secrets in U.S. history.
More than a thousand days after he was arrested, Manning testified Thursday before a military court. He said he leaked the classified documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in order to show the American public the “true costs of war.” Reading for more than an hour from a 35-page statement, Manning said: “I believed 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.”
At the pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade military base in Maryland, Manning pleaded guilty to reduced charges on 10 counts, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. But even if the judge accepts the plea, prosecutors can still pursue a court-martial on the remaining 12 charges. The most serious of those is “aiding the enemy” and carries a possible life sentence.
We are joined by Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He just returned from attending Manning’s hearing.