Leaked Audio of Bradley Manning’s statement released by Freedom of the Press Foundation

VIDEO: Leaked audio recording of Bradley Manning describing his response to the July 12, 2007 Baghdad Apache airstrike video that documented the killing of two Reuters journalists. By Laura Poitras and Jenny Perlin.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation, of which I am a board member, today published the full, previously unreleased audio recording of Private First Class Bradley Manning’s speech to the military court in Ft. Meade about his motivations for leaking over 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks. In addition, the group has published highlights from Manning’s statement to the court.

"While unofficial transcripts of this statement are available," FotPF's Trevor Timm and Rainey Reitman wrote, "this marks the first time the American public has heard the actual voice of Manning.

In the speech, he explains why he leaked; he believed the WikiLeaks files were evidence of government wrongdoing, and he hoped their the release would "spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan."

Daniel Ellsberg, former military analyst and leaker of the historic "Pentagon Papers," published a guest editorial on Boing Boing today with his thoughts on the sigificance of the audio leak: "A Salute to Bradley Manning, Whistleblower, As We Hear His Words For The First Time."

Glenn Greenwald, who is also a FotPF board member, wrote about the audio at the Guardian today. "The US government and its military has carefully ensured that people hear about Manning from the government, but do not hear from Manning himself," Glenn writes. "It is way past time for Manning's voice to be heard."

NBC's Today Show covered the news of the audio file's release today. A minor nitpick, I suppose, but it's unfortunate they chose to label FotPF as an "anti-secrecy" group. I guess when the only tool you have is a hammer, every organization working toward greater transparency looks like Wikileaks.

A statement from the organization follows.

Today, Freedom of the Press Foundation published the full, previously unreleased audio recording of Private First Class Bradley Manning’s speech to the military court in Ft. Meade about his motivations for leaking over 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks.

While unofficial transcripts of this statement are widely available, this marks the first time the American public has heard the actual voice of Manning.

Trevor Timm, Executive Director and founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, stated: "Transparency is vital for an informed public, whether we're talking about the courtroom, Congress, or the executive branch. We hope this release will shine light on the plight of whistleblowers everywhere."

In the audio file, Private First Class Manning explains to the military court in his own cadence and words how and why he gave the Apache helicopter video, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars Logs, and the State Department Diplomatic Cables to WikiLeaks. Manning explains his motives, noting how he believed the documents showed deep wrongdoing by the government and how he hoped that the release would "spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan." In conjunction with the statement, Private First Class Manning also pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges against him.

Daniel Ellsberg, famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower as well as a founder and board member for the Freedom of the Press Foundation, noted the similarities between Manning’s situation and his own prosecution: "Manning faces some of exact same charges I faced forty-two years ago when I leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and eighteen other papers. The only difference is I was a civilian, so I could stay out of jail on bond while the trial was going on, and was able to talk to the media throughout."

Freedom of the Press Foundation’s mission is to support and defend cutting-edge transparency journalism by supporting those organizations that publish leaks in the public interest. It often reports on news surrounding government secrecy, educating the public about the important relationship between leaking and independent journalism. This recording presented a unique opportunity to bring some small measure of transparency directly by allowing the world to hear for itself the voice of someone who took a controversial and important stance for government transparency.

John Cusack, famed actor and activist who is also a founder and board member for the organization, said: "Growing up with the living legacy of the Berrigan brothers and fellow board member Daniel Ellsberg, I deeply and profoundly respect the sacrifice made by those heroic individuals who speak their truth no matter what price they may pay. We hope this recording inspires more participation in a broad-based movement to restore and protect the First Amendment."

Freedom of the Press Foundation was founded in the winter of 2012 to crowd-fund a variety of journalism institutions—both start-ups and established organizations—who are dedicated to aggressive, uncompromising journalism in the vein of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers. The Foundation's Board of Directors is comprised of journalists and free expression advocates, including John Perry Barlow, Daniel Ellsberg, Xeni Jardin, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Josh Stearns, Rainey Reitman, Trevor Timm, and John Cusack.

Listen to the audio, watch a short video, or read more here.

Learn about Freedom of the Press Foundation here.

Start the discussion at bbs.boingboing.net

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  1. I remember the first time I read BB.  I sent an email to the site admin asking them why they didn’t use BB.com.  The human reply made me a fan and I’ve been back ever since.

    However the marriage (years past a honeymoon) is over.

    Government and soldiers do terrible things sometimes and none of it should be hidden from the people that they serve.  We (the people) have a moral obligation to demand that from our government and our military.

    But some person who has access (however limited) to information blindly putting it out on the internet should not be celebrated.

    Perhaps this one time – some good came from this.

    Perhaps next time – people who volunteer to serve others (soldiers, etc.) will be killed as a result of information release.

    The military has channels for disagreeing with the chain of command, but you get significantly less press coverage by using them.

    I’ll miss you guys – it’s been fun.

    Cya.

    1. But some person who has access (however limited) to information blindly putting it out on the internet should not be celebrated.

      “Blindly”? You are clearly not paying attention.

      Either that or you’re wearing your own (ideological) blinders.

      And I for one applaud BB for caring overtly about politics. In human interactions, EVERYTHING is political. Ignoring important stories like this one would also be a political act.

      1. Blindly in the sense that he did not review all the material and then post only specific information.

        1. Your premise is off, Jim.That’s exactly what Manning DID do! He shared selectively – didn’t publish classified material, or so I’ve heard from several sources. 

    2. Perhaps next time – people who volunteer to serve others (soldiers, etc.) will be killed as a result of information release.

      It’s entirely possible that American service members were killed in retaliation for the Mai Lai massacre. That doesn’t mean that the people who sacrificed their careers to bring those horrible events to light betrayed their country.

    3. “Conservative Boing Boing readers who haven’t really noticed what neighborhood they are in” are like WWII mines floating around the North Sea. You never quite know if they will suddenly explode, continue to bob around harmlessly, or become delightfully entertaining beach art.

    4. According to his testimony he went through the info it was not as blind as we have been lead to think.

      Even if it was “blind” that is the new reality given the amount of information stored compared to the past.

      1. More specifically, all the documents are categorised by security level. Manning explains how the low security, general consumption documents were actually more interesting than the top secret level documents. He chose to release documents with the lowest security level, ie. nothing that would have any significant impact on life and death. He did this because he worked on this for hours, days and weeks, months. In contrast, most people’s opinions on his actions are formed based on 2 minutes of what the media reports say when it has nothing to report.

        Like Chavez – and Assange – this is one of those cases where the media plays an overt propaganda function, reporting on toilet habits and sexual preferences, grooming, hearsay, conspiracy, and whatever the government tells them to say when they have nothing factually interesting to report. In this world, essentially “bad” people do things for deep seated psychological reasons. They do not act rationally. They are mad. All that is left to discuss is the depths of their depravity.
        “They must be egomaniacs to be so driven by sex and ego and narcism.” 
        “Yes, it stands to reason they are.” 
        And so everyone agreed they were. And just as they were tucking back in to their tomato soup, a drone strike evaporated their lovely little house and the neighbours on each side. It is later reported to have been the result of a practical joke gone wrong. Drone pilots will now be housed in individual, sealed cockpits to protect them from distracting paper projectiles. No one was injured in the incident.

        1. Blindly in that he did not read them all – and is not experienced or knowledgeable enough to truly determine what would have any impact on ‘life or death’.  I agree that the media is ‘steering’ this discussion.  Unfortunately BB is (it seems) over correcting in my humble opinion.

    5. Oh noes! After officialy announcing your departure as a reader of Wired now you´re leaving boingboing? Admit it, you just want to ruin the techy leftist happy mutant blogosphere in one fell swoop of evil brilliance.

    6.  The art of propaganda, perhaps, maybe, forget the facts, ignore the truth and make judgement on current actions based around pretend scenarios.
      The US military was involved in perverting the course of justice, with holding evidence of crimes, falsifying evidence and all of those who failed to report it are guilty of being accessories to crime before, during and after the fact.
      The ludicrous claim is the truth would have harmed the war, rather than the reality it simply protects the negligent and the incompetent.
      This court case is all about protecting lies and those who knowingly and with intent breach their oath to the constitution which they have sworn to uphold in order to protect the criminal activity of the US military and the select few who live protected existences within the US military, no crime too great, no incompetence too excessive.

  2. I THINK WE NOW HAVE THE VOCABULARY NEEDED TO USE FOIA AND PROBE THE MILITARY BETTER THAN EVER, DUE TO ALL THE DETAILS GIVEN IN HIS TESTIMONY

  3. Here is the mythical “good apple.” Amongst all of the bullshit behavior that gets passed off, here’s the one person stepping up and doing the right thing.

    Remember: the military runs this government. The military’s interests are this government’s interests.

  4. Instead of being prosecuted, manning should be honored and given a medal.
    Secrecy is the greatest enemy of our nation.

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