Manning ‘sorry’ for leaks as rough upbringing detailed
Pfc. Bradley Manning had not previously expressed regret for his actions and during trial had justified the leak as necessary.
The Washington Post
Pfc. Bradley Manning told a military judge during his sentencing hearing Wednesday that he is sorry he hurt the United States by leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks and he asked for leniency.
“I’m sorry I hurt people. I’m sorry that I hurt the United States,” said Manning, who was convicted last month of multiple crimes, including violations of the Espionage Act, for turning over the classified material. “I’m apologizing for the unintended consequences of my actions. I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.”
The former Army intelligence analyst, who served at a forward operating base in Iraq, had not previously expressed regret for his actions, and during trial had justified the leak as necessary to spark a debate about the nation’s preoccupation with “killing and capturing people.”
Speaking publicly for only the third time since he was arrested in Iraq in June 2010, Manning said he had been naive. “I look back at my decisions and wonder, ‘How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?’ ” said Manning, who spoke for less than five minutes, his voice quavering.
His conciliatory tone was at odds with the statement he gave in court in February, when he condemned the actions of U.S. soldiers overseas and what he called the military’s “bloodlust.”
Manning, 25, elected to be tried and sentenced by a judge, not a military jury, and Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, will determine the length of his sentence. He faces up to 90 years in prison.
Manning told Lind in an unsworn statement that he understood he would have to “pay a price for my decisions and actions,” but hoped that he would one day be able to attend college and have a meaningful relationship with his sister and her family.
“I know I can and will be a better person,” he said.
Manning’s defense team has presented witnesses in the sentencing phase of the trial at Fort Meade, Md., to make the argument that Manning’s psychological problems should have led the military to remove him from Iraq.
Earlier Wednesday, Manning’s older sister, Casey Major, described a bleak upbringing in Crescent, Okla. She said she was Manning’s principal caregiver when she was only 11 because both of their parents were alcoholics. As a girl, Major said she would wake up to her brother’s cries, make a bottle for him, rock him and put him back to sleep
A Navy psychiatrist, Capt. David Moulton, testified Wednesday that Manning’s facial features were indicative of someone who was exposed to alcohol in the womb and he exhibited other symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome. Major said her mother drank continuously when she was pregnant with her brother.
An Army psychologist said Manning was under intense pressure while serving in Iraq because he was coping with a gender-identity disorder in the “hypermasculine environment” of a war zone. Manning emailed the therapist, Capt. Michael Worsley, a photo of himself wearing a blond wig and lipstick, which he also sent to one of his superiors in Baghdad.
In the email, Manning said he was “haunted” by what he called “my problem.”
“Being in the military and having a gender-identity issue does not exactly go hand in hand,” Worsley said. “At that time the military was not exactly friendly toward the gay community, or anybody who held views as such.”
Moulton said Manning’s identity issues, in combination with his isolation, narcissism and idealism, may have led him to believe that leaking the documents was the right thing to do.
“He became very enthralled with this idea that the things that he was finding were injustices that he felt he morally needed to right,” said Moulton, who spent 21 hours interviewing Manning at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.