Facing life in prison, Manning apologizes for "hurting" U.S., supporters say leaks benefited America


Photo: "Free Bradley Manning" flyer on a pole, seen on 3rd Ave in Seattle, photo by Bryan W. Jones in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool.

Yesterday at Fort Meade, Maryland, Pfc. Bradley Manning spoke in his defense in the sentencing phase of his court-martial. Col. Denise Lind, the judge in this trial, may determine that Manning must be sentenced to up to 90 years in prison for leaking government documents to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. In his statement before the court, Manning apologized for the "hurt" he inflicted on the United States, and referenced the gender identity issues that triggered a personal crisis in Iraq. Snip from his unsworn testimony:

First your Honor. I want to start off with an apology. I am sorry. I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I am sorry that it hurt the United States. At the time of my decisions, as you know, I was dealing with a lot of issues-- issues that are ongoing and they are continuing to affect me.

Although they have caused me considerable difficulty in my life, these issues are not an excuse for my actions. I understood what I was doing and the decisions I made. However, I did not truly appreciate the broader effects of my actions. Those effects are clearer to me now through both self-reflection during my confinement in its various forms and through the merits and sentencing testimony that I have seen here.

Manning's defense is doing what any competent legal team would: trying to convince the judge to reduce the sentence as much as possible.

But Rainey Reitman at Freedom of the Press Foundation argues that while this strategy is understandable, the world should know that the 25 year old former Army intelligence analyst has nothing to apologize for because "The public has benefited tremendously as a result of Manning’s disclosures."

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Bradley Manning expected to speak at trial today; email with female selfie released


A self-portrait snapshot Bradley Manning took, and emailed to his supervisor in the Army in April, 2010, prior to leaking government documents to Wikileaks.

We've been following the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning here at Boing Boing, and I have visited the trial periodically to live-blog the proceedings in person. Today is expected to be a significant day at Fort Meade: the 25-year-old former Army intel analyst is expected to make a statement to the court, as Judge Col. Denise Lind weighs the sentence he will receive. Kevin Gosztola, Nathan Fuller, and Alexa O'Brien are among the few reporters/bloggers who have been there daily, for months. Alexa says:

Kevin is liveblogging here, at Firedoglake. I've gathered some of their tweets from the Fort Meade media operations center below, summarizing witnesses' statements and the vibe around the press center (in a word, tense). Look for today's transcripts at the Freedom of the Press Foundation website later today (the court isn't releasing official transcripts, but we've sent stenographers, crowd-funded and permitted by the judge with your help). Here are yesterday's transcripts: morning, afternoon.

One of the big reveals over the last few days of the trial: "My Problem" [PDF] an email Manning sent on Saturday, April 24, 2010 to his then-supervisor, former Master Sgt. Paul Adkins. The message amounted to a confession that Manning was transgender, and felt unable to transition within the military environment in Iraq.

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When Poitras met Snowden


People hold masks with the face of Edward J. Snowden at a hearing in Brazil on the N.S.A.'s surveillance programs. Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters.

Peter Maass in the New York Times has a fascinating tick-tock/profile on how filmmaker Laura Poitras (who has produced online op-doc films for the NYT) connected with NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Seconds after she decrypted and read the e-mail, Poitras disconnected from the Internet and removed the message from her computer. “I thought, O.K., if this is true, my life just changed,” she told me last month. “It was staggering, what he claimed to know and be able to provide. I just knew that I had to change everything.”
She was right: her life would never be the same. And, not to bury the lede here: Maass has a Q&A with Snowden himself today.

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Bradley Manning expected to speak in court Wednesday, "my problem" email surfaces in trial


Paul David Adkins, drawn by Clark Stoeckley.


U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning departs Fort Meade courtroom July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Today at the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the former intelligence analyst who provided Wikileaks with hundreds of thousands of classified government documents, Former Master Sergeant Paul David Adkins testified. He explained to the court his "deficient response" to several incidents involving Manning which now, in retrospect, are understood to have deserved more attention.

Manning's attorney David Coombs says the defendant will "take the stand" tomorrow, Wednesday August 14. Whether he will do so as a witness or an unsworn statement is not clear.

A few months before the leaks to Julian Assange, Manning sent Adkins an email titled “My Problem,” with an attached photo of Manning dressed in a wig and makeup, presenting as female. Snip from that email written by Bradley Manning to his superior officer, which was presented in court today:

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Opinion: Edward Snowden is a patriot

Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, writing in Politico: "Even as [US President Barack Obama] grudgingly admitted that the timing, at least, of his suggestions was a consequence of Snowden’s actions, the president declared, 'I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot.' When you look at what has changed over the past two months, though, it’s hard not to wonder, 'What could be more patriotic than what Snowden did?'”

NSA firing 90% of its sysadmins to eliminate potential Snowdens


The NSA is going to cut 90% of its 1,000 sysadmins in a bid to reduce the risk of leaks. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was a network administrator, charged with keeping the machines running on the network of vast data-centers used by the NSA to harvest, store and analyze unimaginably large quantities of data.

So, after this change, the NSA -- which now has nearly every compromising communication about every human alive -- will no longer have to worry about its sysadmins leaking its secrets. But it will have downsized its operational staff (and thus its capability to repel hackers and attackers) by 90 percent. I feel better already.

This is like a plutonium storehouse reducing the risk of guards selling fissiles on the black market by firing all of them and leaving a couple of dudes at the door with walkie-talkies.

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NSA, on US soil, systematically searches Americans' cross-border communications without warrants

In the New York Times today, Charlie Savage has another new, important story on the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. He reports:

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Sentencing phase continues in Manning trial; State Dept. argues leaks caused damage after admitting they did not

The State Department treated Pfc. Bradley Manning's leaks to WikiLeaks as a "very, very serious crisis," an ambassador testified at Ft. Meade Monday, denying reports that he told Congress otherwise two years ago. The words attributed to him then: the cables were "embarrassing but not damaging." Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News reports from Manning's ongoing court-martial. The defense hopes to reduce prison time with the argument that the leaks caused less damage than the "hacker hysteria" they sparked would suggest.

What Is ‘Top Secret’?

David E. Sanger at the New York Times: "When far too much information gets classified, nothing is really classified. Respect for the system erodes when information readily available in open sources is ostensibly guarded with high-level classification."

The argument for a "secrecy beat" in news organizations

Dan Froomkin at Columbia Journalism review: "It’s hardly been a secret among national security reporters and civil libertarians that the sort of intelligence activity we’re hearing about via the leaks was long part of the Bush-Cheney surveillance regime, and that the Obama administration picked up the ball and ran with it. The Washington press corps just no longer considered such activities newsworthy."

Stephen Colbert on Bradley Manning trial: "We, the American People, Are the Enemy"

On the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert nails it on the Bradley Manning verdict: we have met the enemy, and he is us.

UPDATED: Extra charges for Bradley Manning because he used a computer


Update: EFF has retracted this post.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Trevor Timm explains a disturbing and overlooked fact about the trial of Bradley Manning; the charge-sheet against him included two separate felonies under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, an ancient anti-hacking statute that has been used as a club to threaten security researchers and activists like Aaron Swartz. The CFAA makes it a separate offense to leak classified information using a computer, such that anyone caught doing so can be charged twice: first under the Espionage Act and again under the CFAA.

This gives tremendous and terrible leverage to prosecutors, who come to the negotiating table with double the ammo: "We'll drop the CFAA charges if you plead guilty to the Espionage Act charges" (or vice-versa). The reality is that there's nothing special about using a computer to leak documents -- indeed, these days you'd be hard pressed not to use a computer -- now that photocopiers, fax machines, phones, cameras and even the daily paper are all built out of computers.

Several Congresses have failed to modernize the CFAA, because the DoJ has forcefully argued that the ability to threaten people with decades in jail for simply using computers has given them the leverage to force "bad guys" to plead guilty, rather than getting a day in court.

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Manning court-martial: sentencing phase continues, with government witnesses


My copy of Bradley Manning's charge sheet, handed to me by an Army public affairs officer as I was escorted into Judge Lind's courtroom to hear the verdict on July 30, 2013. I scribbled "guilty/not guilty" next to each charge as she read her verdict. [XJ].

The sentencing phase in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning is ongoing at Fort Meade, Maryland. On Tuesday, judge Col. Denise R. Lind found the 25-year-old former Army intelligence analyst guilty of 20 of the 22 charges the government brought against him. Manning was convicted on six counts of violating the 1917 Espionage Act. He was found not guilty of the most serious charge, "aiding the enemy," which carried a possible life sentence--but the guilty charges add up to a potential 136 years in prison. The actual sentence he receives is likely to be shorter, according to military law experts.

I've created a Twitter list of reporters who are at Fort Meade in the media operations center, about a quarter-mile away from the closed courtroom where the proceedings are taking place. Absolutely no laptops, phones, or other communication devices allowed inside court, but back at the media center, press can use laptops to transmit updates when court is not in session (more on restrictions ">in this previous post). On the Twitter list, I included other central figures in the trial like Manning's attorney, David Coombs, and reporters who aren't there every day but are producing notably reliable reporting on the trial.

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After Bradley Manning's mixed verdict, trial moves to sentencing phase

On Tuesday, Col. Denise Lind, the military judge in Bradley Manning's court-martial, found the former Army intelligence officer guilty of 20 of 22 charges brought by the government against him.

The 25-year-old Oklahoma native was accused of leaking classified information while stationed in Iraq to Julian Assange, who published it at Wikileaks.org and provided news organizations with access. Manning was found not guilty of "aiding the enemy," the most serious charge which carried a possible life sentence, but was found guilty of 6 Espionage Act charges and other offenses that could add up to 136 years of prison time.

Today, at 930am Eastern time, Judge Lind reconvened court at Fort Meade to begin the sentencing phase of the trial.

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Yes, there's a Taiwanese animated explainer video of the Bradley Manning verdict

Thanks to Jessica Wu of nma.com.tw for pointing us to this (inevitable) video explainer of yesterday's news in the Bradley Manning trial. I was there, right in the courtroom as the verdict was read, and I can tell you it looked exactly like this.