Bradley Manning. (Reuters/Gary Cameron)
Pfc. Bradley Manning surprised some supporters on Wednesday with an apology and admission that he could have tried other channels today, before leading documents and videos to WikiLeaks, in court as the sentencing segment continues. Still, one had to recognize the position he is in: the judge he was pleading with, Denise Lind, could send him away for only, say, three years—or maybe, thirty. She judged him guilty two weeks ago of nearly twenty serious charges.
Posting on Twitter, Manning backers and longtime observers in the courtroom quickly expressed sympathy for him and noted that his claims of being an idealistic whistleblower—and doing much good with his leaking—remained valid.
His full statement follows, now transcribed by Freedom of the Press Foundation’s stenographer.
Below that, the WikiLeaks response (posted on its webpage), charging that Manning’s apology had essentially been “extorted,” and offering continuing support. My book on the Manning case and trial (with Kevin Gosztola).
First, your honour I want to start off with an apology. I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I ‘m sorry that they 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 continuing to effect me. Although a considerable difficulty in my life, these issues are not an excuse for my actions.
I understood what I was doing, and decisions I made. However I did not fully appreciate the broader effects of my actions.
Those factors are clear to me now, through both self-refection during my confinement in various forms, and through the merits and sentecing testimony that I have seen here.
I am sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions. When I made these decisions I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.
The last few years have been a learning experience. 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 […] on decisions of those with the proper authority.
In retrospect I should have worked more aggressively inside the system, as we discussed during the […] statement, I had options and I should have used these options.
Unfortunately, I can’t go back and change things. I can only go forward. I want to go forward. Before I can do that, I understand that I must pay a price for my decisions and actions.
Once I pay that price, I hope to one day live in a manner that I haven’t been able to in the past. I want to be a better person, to go to college, to get a degree and to have a meaningful relationship with my sister with my sister’s family and my family.
I want to be a positive influence in their lives, just as my Aunt Deborah has been to me. I have flaws and issues that I have to deal with, but I know that I can and will be a better person.