by JASMINE ELSHAMY Photo & Video Editor
A military judge in Fort Meade, Maryland will consider the case of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning for the next 12 weeks. He is a United States soldier who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of leaking classified materials to the website WikiLeaks.
He ended up pleading guilty to the accusations, and the amount of information that Manning leaked to the website marks the largest leak of classified information in the history of the United States.
It was a video entitled “Collateral Murder” that first brought attention to Wikileaks in 2010. It showed a 2007 incident in which a U.S. military crew on an Army Apache helicopter shot at Iraqi civilians and a Reuters journalist, after supposedly mistaking them for insurgents. It provided a rare chance to witness an incident of what the military calls collateral damage.
The leaks continued, peaking with the release of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables that brought mostly diplomatic headaches for the United States. Some argued that they revealed much more. In some cases, they revealed the identities of operatives and informants across the world.
The government said during the first day of the court-martial that it will present evidence that Osama bin Laden asked for and received some of these cables.
Since his arrest, Manning has not had much to say. His most significant statement came when a judge was considering throwing out the case against him because of the way the U.S. government treated him.
It was highly unusual for a court-martial to be delayed for more than three years. Not only that, but at one point, Manning was kept in complete isolation and in some instances forced to sleep naked and without a blanket.
“That is a truly awful way to treat somebody. People do bad things and make mistakes, but it just feels like everybody keeps on forgetting that two wrongs do not make a right,” says sophomore Kevin Latwis. “I am not comprehending how forcing the man to sleep naked is gong to change things.”
Manning’s defense attorney David Coombs said that Manning’s treatment at the Marine Corps Base in Virginia will “forever be etched, I believe, in our nation’s history as a disgraceful moment in time.”
Manning is facing charges including violations of the Espionage Act and aiding the enemy, which carries a possible life sentence.
During the 12-week trial, the government will have to prove Manning had reason to believe the leaks would hurt national security. On aiding the enemy charge, the government has to prove that Manning leaked the information with that intent in mind.
“Maybe this is a lesson that the government had to learn the hard way: if you don’t want the entire world reading your defense plans on the Internet, put people who you know won’t do that in charge!” says junior Sam Cicatello.