As planned, alleged WikiLeaks source Army Private Bradley Manning pleaded guilty today to ten lesser charges carrying up to twenty years in prison, but not guilty to aiding the enemy, the most serious charge against him. Manning, whose court martial is scheduled to start June 3, more than 1,000 days since his capture, waived his right to a jury, leaving his fate up to Colonel Denise Lind. The judge has not yet accepted his guilty pleas. She did, however, allow him to read a 35-page prepared statement, only his second piece of testimony while in prison. During his remarks, Manning revealed that WikiLeaks was not his first choice for the state secrets he shared.
Included in Manning’s guilty pleas are the “collateral murder” video that first brought Julian Assange international attention, as well as some leaked diplomatic cables, files on Guantánamo prisoners, and warlogs from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Guardian, whose reporter Ed Pilkington is covering the case exhaustively.
In addition to stating that he only meant to embarrass the U.S. by leaking the cables, not damage it, Manning claimed he went to the mainstream media with the info first:
“If we substituted New York Times for WikiLeaks, would you still charge Bradley Manning in the way that you have?” the judge asked at a previous hearing. The government said yes.
Update: Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told Daily Intelligencer, "This is the first we’re hearing of it. We have no record of Manning contacting The Times in advance of WikiLeaks."