Bradley Manning accepts responsibility
Why, what it means (and doesn't), and what next

just beginningBy Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist. November 19, 2012. Published at

Army Private Bradley Manning recently informed the military court that he was, in fact, the source of information published by WikiLeaks. While the 24 year old Intelligence Analyst, effectively, took responsibility for transferring classified documents, in violation of military regulations, he maintained that he was not guilty of all 22 charges against him.

“PFC Manning has offered to plead guilty to various offenses through a process known as "pleading by exceptions and substitutions," explained Manning civilian defense attorney David Coombs on his blog. Manning is “attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses…. PFC Manning is not pleading guilty to the specifications as charged by the government,” added Coombs. Nor is he “submitting a plea as part of an agreement or deal with the government.”

"Pleading by exceptions and substitutions" is very rare--so rare that most observers of the proceedings were thoroughly confused. Some media outlets incorrectly reported that Manning was “seeking a deal”, “pleading guilty”, or trying to nullify a life sentence--or even the death penalty. It’s important to clarify that no deal is being sought, Manning no longer faces the death penalty, and his plea doesn’t prohibit the maximum sentence of life in prison. Manning’s plea confused many, simply because the truth isn’t usually offered up in such proceedings without something in return. But that is what happened.

Why would Manning accept responsibility?

free bradleyManning needed to accept responsibility, so that he could move forward with his defense as a whistle-blower, ahead of the scheduled, February 4, 2013, start of his court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Supporters of Manning have long hailed him as a young man, with a conscience, who heroically uncovered evidence of war crimes and government corruption. Yet, many cling to the narrative of Manning, the disillusioned, unstable, gay soldier, serving precariously under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

Neither the defense nor the prosecution, believe Manning’s difficulties in the Army are a primary aspect of what happened. Neither side has disputed Manning’s motives, as summed up in this online chat, prior to his arrest: “I want people to see the truth… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public… I was actively involved in something that I was completely against.” According to the prosecution, Manning also provided the following note, to WikiLeaks, when he, anonymously, uploaded a cache of battlefield reports of the Iraq War: “This is perhaps one of the most significant documents of our time… removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.”

While doing his job, Manning analyzed horrific surveillance videos of the bloody and chaotic Iraq War unfolding around him. In stark contrast to the "Aiding the Enemy" and Espionage Act violation charges the prosecution has painted him with, Manning is now free to explain how he was trying to do the right thing, expecting nothing in return, while sitting in that dark bunker at Forward Operating Base Hammer.

“God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms – if not, we're doomed,” Manning allegedly told a government informant before his arrest. Now with this plea offering, he’s taken responsibility on the most favorable terms available to him.

At the conclusion of the “Article 32” pre-trial investigative hearing back in December 2011, Manning’s attorney David Coombs explained that his goal was to show the court “why things happened, while the government was only interested in what happened.” In that context, this plea doesn’t represent a change of course for the defense.

Read the entire article here...

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