July 6th, 2010
10:48 AM ET

Military: U.S. soldier to be charged in leak of strike video

[Updated at 11:46 a.m.] The U.S. military said Tuesday it is pressing criminal charges against Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, 22, for allegedly transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system.

Manning of Potomac, Maryland, is suspected of leaking a classified 2007 video of an Apache helicopter strike that killed 12 civilians in Baghdad, including two journalists from the Reuters wire service, the military said.

Manning was deployed with the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, in Baghdad, Iraq, according to the military.

According to Wired.com, Manning leaked the video to the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.com, which posted the video in April. Wired.com reported that Manning confessed to the leak in a series of online chats with a former computer hacker.

He allegedly owned up to leaking other items to WikiLeaks, including a classified Army document assessing the threat level of the website, according to the article, as well as State Department cables.

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Filed under: Iraq • Justice • Military • National security • Security Brief
soundoff (782 Responses)
  1. mike molaison

    They shoot innocent civilians and press charges against this soldier for showing the world?? Shouldn't the ones killing the innocents be charged???

    July 6, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • nate

      Those aren't innocent civilians as this article incorrectly states.. Two of them have RPG's and some have AK-47's and they're in a combat zone. They're around the corner of an approaching American unit who had been under fire all morning. Read the actual report.

      July 6, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Mike, what innocent civilian? I just watched the video and saw arrows with words that said "AK-47" and the camera men were walking with armed bad guys. ARMED! These guys had GUNS! Did I not get the email where carryin an AK makes you a civilian?

      July 6, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Meme

    In the video it looks like they feel pleasure when shooting wounded crawling people... One thing is the rules of engagement, but this looks quite different. The shooting on the truck (which had children on it) it´s also dreadful.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. Christopher

    Wrongs may have occurred (or not), but of course the military is going to prosecute one of its own for leaking classified video. That's the risk he took by leaking the data, and prosecution is neither surprising nor wrong. When you sign up for the military, you agree to follow a strict code of conduct. If you feel that you aren't the sort of person who's willing to essentially sign away your moral agency, then either don't sign up or be ready to accept the consequences when you breach your contract.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Your response is right on point.

      July 6, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Meme

      Just like the SS soldiers did in the Nazi era. If you are a soldier sometimes you can confront ideals, what is good and what is bad. If you are a soldier and see an injustice, what would you do? I know its not the same, but translate your sentence to a Nazi soldier who wants to declare against the SS and could save lives by doing it...

      July 6, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Christopher

      If an SS soldier violated his contract in order to avoid violating his own moral code, he would need to be fully willing to accept the consequences of his actions if the SS ever caught him. He still would have been morally right in doing so, but the military is a special kind of contract - in signing up, you essentially agree to follow a code of conduct that is not your own. If you violate it, that's very serious, regardless of how noble the cause for which you've done so. That's why anyone signing up the for military should give serious consideration to it, and I think unfortunately, many don't.

      July 6, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • steve harnack

      Nuremburg(sp) was supposed to have made it clear that "I was just following orders" is not a valid excuse for crimes committed in war. I would assume that that would include the cover-up of that crime too.

      July 6, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Christopher

      "I was just following orders" isn't any kind of excuse, and the correct course of action for any SS soldier would have been to violate their contracts in light of a greater moral calling. In the same sense, I think any soldier in the United States army who violated their contract in the service of a greater moral calling was absolutely doing the right thing. I'm merely pointing out that the nature of the military isn't particularly nuanced - if you violate your contract, you WILL be punished. If that's what you sign up for, that's what you'll get. What I'm getting at is that any sort of moral person probably shouldn't willingly join the military, and any country that forces one to unwillingly join is wholly immoral.

      July 6, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. John

    The private broke the law and should be punished. As a 10 year U S Air Force veteran I know there are procedures in place for him to have reported this issue to his chain of command. This is NOT the right way bring this accident to light.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • steve harnack

      And you don't think the chain-of-command already knew about it and was complicit in the cover up?

      July 6, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Nate - New York

      Steve, if a private managed to get his paws on it, it obviously wasn't being covered up. I was in the military for eight years, and when they 'cover up' something, it's gone. Permanently.

      There is nothing shown in the video that is not completely standard. People carrying weapons in the immediate vicinity of our ground troops are prosecuted with extreme prejudice.

      Open your eyes to reality and stop living in the media hype.

      July 6, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Monbois

    Ha! Those pu*sies! Let's prosecute someone on the lowest rung of the ladder to punish him for embarassing us because of our own murderous stupidity! Obama should intervene and tell the military brass to man up and take responsibility for their recklessness instead of using this guy as a scapegoat!

    July 6, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dustin

    Am I the only one who realizes the information was CLASSIFIED for a reason? Regardless of why that was or the content of the video, he had no right to reveal his nation's secrets.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • logan

      Killing civilian is not a "nations secret", we don't live in Nazi er Germany

      July 6, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      I bet the German Concentration Camps were designated "classified information" by the Nazi's as well. Sure don't want that kind of info getting out!

      July 6, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Marcus

      You must mean...


      July 6, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |

      I agree!!!

      July 6, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  7. John

    God forbid we allow anybody into the U.S. Military with any morals... much less express them! How un-American!

    July 6, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Trent

      So by that train of thought, McChrystal shouldn't have been replaced by Petraes right? After all, he was only expressing his beliefs; in this case, on how inept Obama is...

      July 6, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  8. Crimes

    I agree that the video should not have been release but there should be a process within the military that has oversight to charge those that were doing the shooting. Laughing while shooting??? Come on, when did the military lose professionalism. I am for the war and believe the cause is good but joke of military personal like this should be court marshalled. Where are the names of those who were doing the shooting. The American public needs to demand justice for both sides.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      When did the military have professionalism in the first place? A bunch of guys didn't pay enough attention in high school, had no options for college and took one of the few options left....the military doesn't exactly draw the best of us...not the morally best, not the most intelligent, not the kindest, not the most logical, not the most practical, not the most realistic, not the most honorable, etc....

      July 6, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      @ Rob and @Crimes: You see a grainy video from one POV in a protracted war – and I'm also acknowledging that it is likely a flawed engagement – and now you assume the service is filled with those who are less intelligent and honorable, etc? Your very act of generalizing this – and trust me, you plainly have no idea about what are whom you are speaking of – is an affront to your own intelligence and honor. Keep your pusilanimous actions and opinions safely here at home and let the men and women who do more than talk try to make sense of these messes overseas.

      July 6, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      @ John...considering the most intelligent go to college after HS, and then usually on to successful careers NOT in the military, considering that the best athletes tend toward big $$$ sports careers, considering the "types" of people available to the military after the best at anything go elsewhere....its called understanding reality via actual evidence and study rather than blind faith in what I WANT to believe....

      July 6, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Support our troops

      @ Crimes my friend was in the infantry and what you don't understand is that if you are getting shot at on a daily basis, one of the best ways to make it out of there with your head in tact is to remove your emotions from it all. He used to tell me that after a while it turns into a video game that's never ending. He was in a Bradley, and those guys get sniped like crazy out there. If a person has a light chuckle while they are shooting at someone, it doesn't mean he has no morals. The actual words hahaha being typed out, make it seem worse than what it was. Tell me how you would be on day 400 after spending 4 days a week getting shot at or having to stop insurgents from blowing up your base?

      @Rob Those pilots have to have college degrees and significant pilot training before they can do their jobs. ALL officers have to have a bachelors degree in order to be considered for the rank. You are sadly mistaken about who is in the military. I skipped two grades in high school, waited until my 17th birthday, and joined the Air Force. I'm not an idiot. The military paid for my college education, just like the scholarships would have if I had decided to go to college right after high school. I now have 2 degrees, which I obtained while still on active duty. This is not an uncommon story of people in the military, no matter what branch they serve. How could you be ok with being a civilian in America, if you think the dumbest people in our country are the ones protecting you and your familiy? Try visiting an Air Force base, I can't speak for any other branch, but I know the AF is full of people who graduated at the top of their class. I made the decision to be a part of our nation's defense. I watched the twin towers fall just 3 weeks before I left for the military, and I have no regrets. I've been to Iraq, it's not pretty over there. People used to make their kids stand in the middle of the streets to stop an entire convoy, and once we stopped, they would come out and attack. How do you suppose we should have handled those types of situations? People like you sit in front of your computer and whine and complain about the military without having any firsthand knowledge of how we operate.

      July 6, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nate - New York

      Rob – Quote these studies. Name your sources. Merely typing your ignorance will not make it reality. Some of the finest and most intelligent people I have ever known were in the military. I myself was a member for 8 years ...I will admit that a large portion of the service members are just above monkeys on the intelligence scale, but that's true of every population, not just the military. If you question that, you don't leave your house very much. People are stupid, no matter where you go.

      ...and thank you so much for representing my last point so eloquently prior to it having been made.

      July 6, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. shut your face

    truthbetold, you dont even know what really goes on over there. USA is the only country with balls to step up and fight these cowards. If they didnt shoot them they might have blew up some of our soldiers with an ied the very next day. yes it sucks but CD is part of war. There is absoultly know way to aviod CD. So untill you do a tour, i would advise you to quit blasting the USA. they might even blow that chesseburger out of your mouth!

    July 6, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • logan

      By cowards you mean a country that was peaceful and didn't provoke or attack the americans? Get a reality check you idiot, there were no WMDs, the 9/11 hijackers came from SAUDI ARABIA, and the Taliban is based in AFGHANISTAN.

      July 6, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. swimmer

    I'm all for the truth exposed about the war and the atrocities and the good in it too. But he still must be charged for violations of rules and regulations. Thats how the military runs. Plain and simple. Remember..loose lips sink ships.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Yeah, we sure don't want news of U.S. atrocities leaking out... impugning our "good guy" image!

      July 6, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rustyshunt

    Light 'em up!
    Keep shootin'!
    Keep shootin'!
    Keep shootin'!

    These guys know how to party, baby!

    July 6, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • B

      That's right!

      July 6, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • RC

      I see absolutely nothing wrong with this video. Nothing at all...

      July 6, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JRyan

    There's a reason why a lot of soldiers come back from war and develope addictions and suffer from mental illness. I'm sure the soldiers in this video aren't dealing with this incident very well. At least if they have a heart. I wouldn't press charges on any of the people involved in this. Not even the whistleblower.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bruce M.

    1st rule of war: Innocent people will die. Contrary to what the bleeding heart liberals think, rule 1 always applies. That is why you should try everything to avoid war. If you';re going to go to war, be prepared for the price.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • PoorGlory

      You are a retard.

      July 6, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      they especially die when they're unarmed and you shoot them!

      July 6, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • logan

      Oh yeah the US government REALLY truied to avoid a war in Iraq, lol

      July 6, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Spread the word to end the word!

      July 6, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      LOL...you sound like Osama Bin Laden after 9/11...what an idiot!

      July 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • IsJusticeWorthlesstoYOU?

      Would-be patriots often defend atrocities by saying “in war people die” as if that somehow legitimizes ANYTHING.

      In war people die. But only the worst kind of men are indifferent to it.

      "Bleeding heart liberals" are bothered when innocent people get killed.
      You shrug of the screams people getting killed who no more harmed America than you did.

      When did you decide justice wasn't worth your time?

      Traitor to justice.
      Traitor to freedom.
      Traitor to humanity.

      July 6, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • IsJusticeWorthlesstoYOU?

      “People die in war” does not translate into “anything goes” except for those who secretly love the idea of murder.

      That'd be you.

      July 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • IsJusticeWorthlesstoYOU?

      Admit what you are. I love dragging maggots out from under their rocks.

      July 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Oldfort

    Does he really need to do hard time for posting a video???? How about just a dishonorable discharge? Why does he need to go to jail? Seems harsh...but then again, the Military MUST hold thru to its standards. I bet if he was a gay soldier and posted the video he would've have gotten the death penalty.....Crazy, just kick him out of the service, no need for Jail.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      How about awarding him a medal for having morals, and the courage to act on them?

      July 6, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Elexsor

      The reason the video should not be released is because the terrorist will use it to insight more violence against the use. By posting this video he has increased the threat to American troops. There is a reason the video was classified. You don't release classified material. Period.

      July 6, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Seth, minnesota

      The terrorists can't use our atrocities against us if we don't commit atrocities.

      Whether it's Abu Ghraib or this, it isn't the fault of the press or the informant. It's the fault of the soldiers who acted on commands that were wrong, it's more the fault of the officers who issued those commands, and it's mostly the fault of a military-industrial complex we've built that spends more money on killing than all the rest of the world combined. It's the fault of generals and contractors, intelligence officers and civilian military secretaries. It's the fault of cowboy politicians and those that elect them and re-elect them.

      The only ones NOT responsible for empowering the terrorists, for giving them GOOD CAUSE for hating us, are the press. We need to accept that all actions have consequences. We've killed thousands of unarmed Iraqi civilians through error, laziness, racism, or malice. Yet we act affronted and surprised when their grieving sons, brothers, and fathers demand justice for these murders. Do we honestly expect that out of those thousands of kids we orphaned there won't be any insurgents or terrorists?

      July 6, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. need2bsaid

    I am heartbroken about this... I am a former Army vet and I am waiting to see something that instigated the firing of our weapons on these people. I don't agree that the the video should have been made public, unless the soldier tried to escalate what he viewed up the chain of command and every one tried to cover it up or tell him to forget about it. IF that is the the case.... he has more courage than any of those people that pulled the trigger or ordered them to do it.

    May they all rest in peace.

    July 6, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
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