Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq who leaked video of a deadly helicopter attack that killed several people, including a Reuters reporter and a cameraman, has been charged with downloading more than 150,00 highly classified diplomatic cables. In a series of chats with a former outlaw hacker, R. Adrian Lamo, Manning claimed that the number of documents he leaked was even higher–260,000.
Manning leaked his information to the WikiLeaks site, and the video from the helicopter incident in particular set off a storm of controversy. In terms of the hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables that Manning claimed to have leaked, only one appeared on WikiLeaks–a cable which summarized the U.S. Embassy’s discussions with Iceland regarding the strange nation’s debt problems (one cause of which apparently was Icelanders’ superiority complex, which convinced many life-long fisherman that they were professional investors).
The big question now is whether Manning did a public service by leaking these documents and videos or just got carried away in his quest for attention. Manning had drifted from job to job, and at one point found himself homeless. In introducing himself to Lamo, Manning wrote that he was facing discharge for an ”adjustment disorder.” Manning also assaulted a fellow soldier, and wrote that he had been ignored by his fellow soldiers to the point that he felt like all had left were his laptop, some books, and ”a hell of a story.”
Manning’s leaked video has been compared to The Pentagon Papers, which detailed the U.S. government’s activities in Vietnam and revealed that four presidential administrations had misled the public regarding their intentions in the area. The Pentagon Papers were leaked to The New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg in 1971.
Bradley Manning is a different breed of whistleblower from those typically involved in exposing fraud against the government, and his case will continue to generate controversy. On the one hand, he exploited his access to sensitive information, violated the trust the military put in him, and potentially put U.S. soldiers and diplomatic relations at risk. On the other hand, he exposed the ugly side of war, one from which most Americans are shielded.
This article is brought to you by the QTT, the epicenter for whistleblowers and people interested in the False Claims Act, Qui Tam Provisions, and Medicare and Medicaid fraud. To discuss a potential case, please call Eric Young at 1 (800) 590-4116.