The military accuses Manning, 22, of transmitting a video of a July 2007 military operation filmed in Baghdad "to a person not entitled to receive it" in violation of federal law. The video was widely viewed on the Internet after being posted in April on Wikileaks, a whistleblower web site that lets users anonymously upload classified information.
Manning stole information on a massive scale, according to charging documents in his case. The Army alleges that Manning illegally downloaded to unsecured computer equipment more than 150,000 secret diplomatic cables, in addition to video of a classified military operation near Baghdad.
The charging documents don’t mention WikiLeaks by name. But they do allege that Manning took one cable, named “Reykjavik 13,” that subsequently was posted on the Wikileaks site.
Manning reportedly became a target of the investigation after boasting of leaking more than a quarter of a million classified documents to former hacker Adrian Lamo, who reported him to the Army. Lamo claimed, via his Twitter account on Sunday evening, that he did so out of concern for national security.
"I outed Manning as an alleged leaker out of duty. I would never out an Ordinary Decent Criminal. There's a difference," Lamo tweeted. "I'm heartsick for Manning and his family. I hope they can forgive me some day for doing what I felt had to be done."
Manning was arrested in Iraq in May and transferred to a US military detention unit in Kuwait. He will be charged with eight violations of federal criminal law including one violation of the Espionage Act, according to a statement from the military. If convicted of all charges, Manning could be sentenced to upward of 52 years in prison.
The case has drawn comparisons to Daniel Ellsberg's leak 40 years ago of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret history of the Vietnam War. It has also bolstered perceptions that the Obama administration, despite a stated policy of open government, is as determined as its predecessors with keeping secrets.
What about the Apache crew? Salon's Glenn Greenwaldraises the obvious point. "Manning should have tortured someone as he leaked the video - he could have gotten some of that sweet LOOK FORWARD imperial immunity. ... Torture people => imperial immunity. Shoot at unarmed rescuers & their kids => nothing. Leak evidence of war crimes => 53 yrs in prison."