U.S. soldier who lived in Oklahoma charged in military video leak
POTOMAC, Md. — With his custom-made "humanist” dog tags 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 22-year-old intelligence analyst styled himself a "hactivist.” On Tuesday, the U.S. Army charged him with multiple counts of mishandling and leaking classified data and putting national security at risk. Manning, who grew up in Oklahoma, 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. 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. service members killing civilians, to the whistle-blower website Wikileaks.org. Whether or not Manning was the source, Wikileaks in April posted video clips 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, despite having mistaken cameras 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. Manning's military defense attorney, Capt. Paul R. Bouchard, didn't return calls and e-mails. The Army said Tuesday in a statement that a military version of a grand jury hearing will determine whether Manning will face a trial by court-martial. Manning is the son of divorced parents from Crescent. His Facebook page shows him smiling, with stylish, upswept hair and a stated affinity for gay-rights groups, including Repeal the Ban, which seeks to end the "don't ask, don't tell” policy on homosexuals serving in the U.S. military. When Manning's parents split up in middle school, he left Oklahoma to live with his mother in Wales, said Jordan Davis, a boyhood pal. After Manning graduated from high school and returned to Oklahoma, he quit or lost jobs in food service and retail in Tulsa, Davis said. Settling briefly in Chicago, Manning moved in with an aunt in Potomac, a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., and took community college courses before joining the Army in 2007.
Turning pointAccording to partial chat logs Lamo shared first with Wired.com, Manning started communicating with Lamo on May 21. In one of many personal asides, Manning told Lamo he had been the only nonreligious person in a town that had "more pews than people,” and that he had custom-made dogtags reading "humanist.” According to the chat logs, Manning's turning point came when he watched Iraqi police detain 15 people for printing anti-Iraqi literature that turned out to be a scholarly critique of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "After that … I saw things differently,” he wrote. Manning wrote he had copied onto compact discs "possibly the largest data spillage in American history.” He wrote that he exploited "a perfect storm” of military computer vulnerability. Lamo told the AP he grew concerned "when it became apparent that he was leaking classified information to a foreign national” — Wikileaks' Australian founder Julian Assange.
AT A GLANCEWhat are the charges? According to the charging document, Bradley Manning, who grew up in Oklahoma, was charged with putting a classified video of a military operation recorded July 12, 2007, in Baghdad, on his personal computer. That is the date and the location of the U.S. helicopter shooting. He also was accused of accessing more than 150,000 classified State Department cables.
NewsOK has disabled the comments for this article.