A 22-year old Army intelligence analyst from Maryland has been arrested by U.S. Federal officials two weeks ago after he boasted about providing Wikileaks with combat videos (including that of the helicopter attack made public by the site in April) and a massive amount of classified State Department records.
According to his family, SPC Bradley Manning is held in custody but has not yet been charged. Wired reports that Manning has been arrested after Adrian Lamo, an ex-hacker notified the officials of the soldier bragging about the deed in an online chat.
In the chats, Manning acknowledged that he had also leaked three other sensitive items to the whistleblower site: the Army document containing the evaluation of Wikileaks as a security threat, published by the site in March; a video of an air strike in Afganistan and a batch of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables – both of which have not yet been published.
In one of the chats, Manning said that “Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public”.
According to Lamo, he had thought long and hard about whether or not to notify the Army about Manning’s confessions, but that the thing that tipped the scales was the admission of leaking the diplomatic cable repository, which convinced him that Manning and his actions were a threat to national security.
Judging by the statements from various sources who know the arrested analyst well, his main motive for leaking the material was that he believed that he was doing the right thing and that these documents – “incredible, awful things” – belonged in the public domain. It is doubtful, though, that this will make a difference to the judge and jury when he is eventually prosecuted.