General reveals damage done by Pfc. Manning's leaks of classified information through WikiLeaks
FORT MEADE, Md. — The classified information Pfc. Bradley Manning revealed through WikiLeaks fractured U.S. military relationships with foreign governments and Afghan villagers, a former general said Wednesday at the soldier's sentencing hearing.
It was the first time that testimony about the actual damage the leaks may have caused has been allowed at trial.
Retired Army Brig. Gen. Robert Carr said the material Manning leaked identified hundreds of friendly Afghan villagers by name, causing some of them to stop helping U.S. forces.
“One of our primary missions is to protect the population over there,” said Carr, who led a Defense Department task force that looked at the risks of the leaks. “We had to get close to the population, had to understand that population, and we had to protect them. If the adversary had more clarity, as to which people in the village were collaborating with the U.S. forces, then there is a chance that those folks could be at greater risk.”
A former intelligence analyst, Manning was convicted of 20 of 22 charges for sending hundreds of thousands of government and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks and faces up to 136 years in prison. He was found not guilty of aiding the enemy, which alone could have meant life in prison without parole.
Manning's defense is hoping for a much shorter prison sentence and asked the military judge hearing the case to merge two of his espionage convictions and two of his theft convictions. If Army Col. Denise Lind agrees to do so, the private would face up to 116 years in prison.
Carr said the Taliban killed an Afghan man who had a relationship with the United States, and later the Taliban said publicly the man was associated with the Manning leaks. The general, however, could not find the Afghan's name in the material Manning revealed.
The release of diplomatic cables, war zone logs and videos embarrassed the United States and its allies. American officials warned of dire consequences in the days immediately after the first disclosures in July 2010, but a Pentagon review later suggested those fears might have been overblown.