The Huffington Post, WASHINGTON -- The Freedom of Press Foundation released audio late Monday of Pfc. Bradley Manning's statement before a military court in Fort Meade, Md., in violation of court rules.
The group released Manning's full statement, clocking in at one hour and eight minutes. The recording is the first the public has heard of Manning's voice since his arrest in May 2010.
Manning has admitted to leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, as well as two videos of American airstrikes, in order to provoke a debate about U.S. foreign policy. He has pleaded guilty to 10 charges, including misusing classified material. However, he has pleaded not guilty to 12 other, more serious charges, including "aiding the enemy" and violating the Espionage Act.
Manning's statement via Freedom of the Press Foundation
"I am the type of person who always wants to figure out how things work," says Manning in the recording, "and as an analyst this always means I want to figure out the truth."
Manning described one of the videos, titled "Collateral Murder," of a 2007 airstrike in Iraq, in which a helicopter fired on a group of men that included a Reuters employee and his driver.
"At first, I did not consider the video very special, as I have viewed countless other 'war porn'-type videos depicting combat," says Manning in the audio. "The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemingly delightful bloodlust the aerial weapons team seemed to have."
"They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging in and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as 'dead bastards' and congratulating themselves on their ability to kill in large numbers."
He said the video, released by Wikileaks in June 2010, "burdens me emotionally."
The military has said it is pursuing the additional charges, which carry the possibility of a life sentence in prison. Manning is expected to receive at least 20 years and a dishonorable discharge from the military after pleading guilty to the lesser charges.
NBC's "Today" teased some of the audio in a segment Tuesday morning.
"Extreme secrecy in our courts, just like in our government's policies and our politics, is an anathema to democracy," wrote the Freedom of the Press Foundation. "Whether military or civilian, this type of closed-door legal process impairs the public's right-to-know and journalists' ability to report on matters of deep public concern."
Daniel Ellsberg, the Department of Defense employee who leaked the Pentagon Papers and whose psychiatrist's office was unsuccessfully burglarized at the direction of Nixon aides in retaliation, noted that Manning has received a harsher treatment in the courts than he did.
"Manning faces some of exact same charges I faced forty-two years ago when I leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and eighteen other papers. The only difference is I was a civilian, so I could stay out of jail on bond while the trial was going on, and was able to talk to the media throughout," he said, according to a statement provided by the group.
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