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Crime Government The Courts The Military United States

Bradley Manning Says He's Sorry 496

Posted by timothy
from the may-I-have-another dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Washington Post reports that Pfc. Bradley Manning told a military judge during his sentencing hearing that he is sorry he hurt the United States by leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks and he asked for leniency as he spoke for less than five minutes, often in a quavering voice "I'm sorry I hurt people. I'm sorry that I hurt the United States," said Manning, who was convicted last month of multiple crimes, including violations of the Espionage Act, for turning over the classified material. "I'm apologizing for the unintended consequences of my actions. I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people." Speaking publicly for only the third time since he was arrested in Iraq in June 2010, Manning said he had been naive. "I look back at my decisions and wonder, 'How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?'""
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Bradley Manning Says He's Sorry

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  • I'd be sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:13AM (#44573253)

    I'd be sorry if you locked me in a box for years.

    • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dmbasso (1052166) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:26AM (#44573373)

      [Spoiler alert] Last page of 1984.

      • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Interesting)

        by no-body (127863) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:40AM (#44573501)

        [Spoiler alert] Last page of 1984.

        That ?

        You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right. ... Do you remember, [O'Brien] went on, writing in your diary, 'Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four'?
        Yes, said Winston.
        O'Brien held up his left hand, its back toward Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended. How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?
        Four.
        And if the Party says that it is not four but five--then how many?
        Four.
        ....
        Five

        • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TheCarp (96830) <sjc AT carpanet DOT net> on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:56AM (#44573659) Homepage

          That wasn't the last page. I know that wasn't the last page because the last pages of that book haunted me for weeks after I read them. Its probably one of the most emotionally disturbing bits of fiction that I have ever read. Just thinking of the last few words of that book sends shudders down my spine now.

          This particular scene however, I have trouble not replacing Winston and O'Brien with the TNG version of this exact scene. "There are FOUR lights!"

          • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:03AM (#44573757)

            I think the poster is asking you to consider the reasons that led to Manning's statement, rather than the actual words themselves.

            • by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:42PM (#44580213) Homepage

              What is really sickening about it, is US mass media and the US government seem to be taking pride in the apology, it's like they have completely and totally lost connection with real people and the real world and how they will view that forced apology. Should Bradley Manning have made that apology, of course, they are empty words to feed to the ugly beast that the US government has become, one that thrives on lies and false compliments, a Hollywood charade where bullshit trumps the truth. Lets see what pride Uncle Tom Obama the choom gang coward can suck out of that apology, let's see the US joint chiefs of staff puff out their chests at being able to force, let's see US corporate mass media trumpet it out to the whole planet.

              Truly mind boggling, something the US would have mocked and derided just thirty odd years ago coming out of the Soviet Union is something these shit heads now take pride in, their lack of shame, hides from the the true public feelings about the sickness on display.

              • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:4, Insightful)

                by ultranova (717540) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:35AM (#44582005)

                Truly mind boggling, something the US would have mocked and derided just thirty odd years ago coming out of the Soviet Union is something these shit heads now take pride in, their lack of shame, hides from the the true public feelings about the sickness on display.

                It's only mind boggling if you belive such mockery and derision was ever genuine. Even when the US made noises about freedom, it's own cloak and dagger department toppled democratically elected governments left and right (mostly left) and installed its own puppet dictators in their place. It persecuted its own citizens for their political opinions, just like Soviet Union did. And since the latter no longer exists, there's no reason to pretend anymore.

                Let this be a lesson to everyone: those who wave the flags rarely believe in or even look at what's in them. And that's what freedom ever was to United States: a meaningless sequence of letters to use as a tribal identifier, just like communism was for the Soviet Union. Talk is cheap, actions matter, and US had Joseph McCarthy at home and the CIA abroad.

                tl;dr Business as usual.

          • by houghi (78078) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @11:49AM (#44574997)

            That wasn't the last page.

            That is what they want you to believe.

      • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:04AM (#44573761)

        “Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

      • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheNarrator (200498) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:34AM (#44574113)

        Actually, it's more like Nikolai Bukharin's hysterical personal letter to Stalin [yale.edu] on the eve of his execution:

        For example:

        ...
        5) My heart boils over when I think that you might believe that I am guilty of these crimes and that in your heart of hearts you think that I am really guilty of all of these horrors. My head is giddy with confusion, and I feel like yelling at the top of my voice. I feel like pounding my head against the wall. What am I to do? What am I to do? ...

    • by Vernes (720223) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:58AM (#44573695)
      He should have shouted:
      There!
      are!
      four!
      lights!
    • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:01AM (#44573731)
      I hope Manning hasn't suffered so much abuse that he actually believes he was wrong and that the "proper authority" is unquestionably correct.
      • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Informative)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:20AM (#44573949)

        I hope Manning hasn't suffered so much abuse that he actually believes he was wrong and that the "proper authority" is unquestionably correct.

        He said this during his sentencing hearing, where "shows remorse" is one of the tick boxes on the form. The statement was written by his attorney, and then memorized and recited by Manning. There is no reason to believe it reflects his true beliefs.

        • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Em Adespoton (792954) <slashdotonly.1.adespoton@spamgourmet.com> on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:55AM (#44574403) Homepage Journal

          I hope Manning hasn't suffered so much abuse that he actually believes he was wrong and that the "proper authority" is unquestionably correct.

          He said this during his sentencing hearing, where "shows remorse" is one of the tick boxes on the form. The statement was written by his attorney, and then memorized and recited by Manning. There is no reason to believe it reflects his true beliefs.

          Actually, it probably does reflect his true beliefs -- the wording is very lawyer-massaged.

            "I'm apologizing for the unintended consequences of my actions. I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people."
          -- He's sorry for any consequences he didn't intend, especially where it hurt US citizens. I can believe that.

          "I look back at my decisions and wonder, 'How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?'"
          -- Translation: "How on earth did I believe that just by releasing that info, I could overturn the decisions of those with the proper authority?" What he's saying here is not that proper authority was better suited to handling the information, but that he has been disillusioned that his course of action would cause them to change their ways. I can believe that too.

          This can be done for every bit of his statement. Sure, it can be interpreted as "he has remorse for what he did and is a better, more educated and mature person now who sees the error of his ways" and the checkbox on his sentencing can be ticked. However, the wording is very precise in what it doesn't say. As such, his statement can also be summed up as "I did what I did, thought I could fix the system, and discovered that my chosen method wasn't successful. If I had the opportunity to do it again, I'd do it differently."

          • by jfengel (409917)

            The "proper authority" wording really catches at me. Authority doesn't mean that you know everything; it just means that you were in the right place at the right time with sufficient credentials to have power.

            What he could have said there is, "In my low-level position I didn't have the perspective to see what damage this might cause, and should not have overriden the authority of those in a position to take a broader perspective." It's written so that people could come away thinking that's what he did say,

            • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Interesting)

              by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @02:00PM (#44576281)

              The "proper authority" wording really catches at me. Authority doesn't mean that you know everything; it just means that you were in the right place at the right time with sufficient credentials to have power.

              What he could have said there is, "In my low-level position I didn't have the perspective to see what damage this might cause, and should not have overriden the authority of those in a position to take a broader perspective." It's written so that people could come away thinking that's what he did say, but it clearly doesn't. Instead, he's saying exactly what you said: "I had no power to change things. I'd hoped the leaks would give me some, but they didn't. The power structure remains in place."

              What I don't understand is, just who is this addressed to? Surely he doesn't expect the sentencing judge to be fooled by this non-apology into granting leniency. Could it just be a thinly coded message, telling the people who support him that there's still a lot of work to do, dressed up as an "apology" so that it would get press coverage?

              Actually, if the quotes are exact, what really bothers me is the way they read.

              My dad was obsessed with brainwashing. 1984, Communism, the whole Cold War terror. Which, ironically, even though the Satan-led Godless Commies were going to come in and force us to all Love Big Brother managed to get by just fine without "enemy combatants" or citizens who effectively became non-citizens the minute they left US soil.

              So he collected books on brainwashing. And the stilted wording of the "confessions" of the brainwashed in those books were rife with phrasings like those attributed to Manning.

              In fact, that is probably why you don't hear too much about brainwashing any more. Essentially brainwashing was the process of brutalizing someone into a psychotic state where they'd parrot out "the truth". But only the most credulous would believe the wooden delivery or unnatural tone of these confessions. As propaganda, brainwashing sucked. And that's all most brainwashing was ever used for, since it didn't actually cause anyone to truly "love Big Brother". It didn't re-shape them to be happy supporters of Communism and its ideals. It just produced automatons whose sole utility was to act as automatons speaking the words that were forced into their heads.

      • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:37AM (#44574159)

        so much abuse that he actually believes he was wrong

        After seeing the authorized "tactics" in Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, one can only arrive at the conclusion that Manning has no idea what he believes anymore. His statement sounds like that of a man subjected to the same secret laws of justice that FISA stems from.

    • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Geste (527302) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:19AM (#44573937)

      After everything he has been through, I won't make too much of this. He's a very young guy with his own set of issues and he might not have exhibited the best judgment, but he gave us some invaluable presents that we would not have received otherwise.

      No, Bradley, I am sorry. As your case slips from the headlines, your treatment in the hands of military prisons is not likely to improve. I indeed fear that 2 or 3 or 4 years from now your suicide may make the front page of the New York Times. Under the fold. I hope you can stay strong. You have my thanks.

    • Re:I'd be sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:34AM (#44574131) Homepage

      I dunno. I think he has changed the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority

  • by FreonTrip (694097) <freontrip@@@gmail...com> on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:13AM (#44573259)
    What would YOU say if you'd been through what he has? Who can say if he's sincere? This is just another part of the dog and pony show. Keep fighting.
  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:14AM (#44573269) Homepage

    He is clearly just trying to show remorse and get a lighter sentence now. In any measurable way his actions have made the world a better place, no not resulted in any demonstrable harm (except what the US deserves for its actions).

    Can't blame him when he could be facing the rest of his life in jail, but I don't believe him for a second.

    • by davydagger (2566757) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:18AM (#44573303)
      the worst part is this is a horrible idea.

      1. None of his detractors are ever really going to forgive him. They'd just take this as a sign they broke him and pat themselves on the back at a job well done. It vindicates their position, and makes them look better.

      2. Its a slap in the face to his supporters. It makes them look like idiots, and traitors for supporting him, which is what its going to be used for in propaganda.

      3. He's not going to get a lighter sentance.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:26AM (#44573369)

      I agree. The quote: 'How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?' sounds like Manning took the prosecution's argument and rephrased it in the first person. It sounds improbable with respect to sincerity.

      How much more natural does it seem to imagine the prosecution (or the authorities in question) saying: 'How on earth could you, a junior analyst, possibly believe that you could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?'

      It almost seems tongue in cheek to me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by poetmatt (793785)

      I wouldn't fault him for that as much as fault the US government for our gross miscarriage of justice.

      the impact of this is causing ripples around the globe - more and more companies involving technology do not have any desire to work with the US. This wouldn't matter if we weren't a country that's living basically depends on our technology involvement.

      MIT has told the world "fuck you" and was seen as a leader in technology. The NSA has done the same. That's pretty significant.

      • by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @11:38AM (#44574867) Homepage

        This.

        The fault of any harm lays solely on the US government's shoulders.

        If Manning had released all that information and all it revealed was that the US was handing out puppies and lollipops, there wouldn't be any harm. Unfortunately, the leaked information showed how underhanded the US government has been acting. Our nation has been revealed to be decidedly untrustworthy and hypocritically opposed to the very ideals it espouses. The harm isn't because Manning shed some light on these underhanded dealings, the harm comes from those dealings themselves!

        Now, true, in realpolitik it is impossible for any country to behave with 100% nobility. But as is increasingly becoming obvious - thanks to people like Manning, Assange and Snowden - the United States has gone far beyond the needs of realpolitik and is heading towards cartoonish supervilliany. If the US government wants people - be it foreign nationals or their own citizens - and other nations to trust them, then maybe they should reform their own actions rather than attempt to tar and feather others for offering concrete evidence as to their misdeeds.

        I remember growing up and reading about forced confessions in the USSR and being so proud as how this sort of thing doesn't happen in my country. Those days are long gone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:14AM (#44573273)

    that he fell victim to the 5 dollar wrench.

  • Not Quite (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:14AM (#44573277)

    He apologized for the result of his action, not his action.

  • Belief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:15AM (#44573281)

    "I look back at my decisions and wonder, 'How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?'"

    Because those with the authority weren't going to do anything for the betterment of the world.

    • Re:Belief (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:21AM (#44573329) Journal

      Exactly. Those in authority care nothing for the betterment of the world. Only their own betterment, which is tied to the betterment of the rich and powerful.

      Resistance to those with authority is the only way we are actually going to better the world.

  • Ministry of truth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MadTinfoilHatter (940931) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:17AM (#44573293)
    After a few months in the basement of the ministry of truth he had finally learned to love Big Brother...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:19AM (#44573313)

    So they "enhanced interrogation" and/or solitary'd him until he broke and said anything they want to make the pain stop, and we're totally supposed to think that his epiphany was due to suddenly remembering just how free we are and people-loving is our government?

    Riiiiiiight.

    *Fun fact my captcha there was "kneecap". How appropriate.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:25AM (#44573363)

    It sucks that you're locked up buddy, but you did the right thing.

  • Amazing! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Notabadguy (961343) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:28AM (#44573399)

    Torture has come so far in the last 200 years that when the defendant gets dragged into the court room, there isn't even visible evidence of Iron Maiden puncture marks, the flopping limbs that come from the rack, the rapid flinching from water boarding, or the glossy eyed stare from being subjected to countless hours of network TV.

     

    • Re:Amazing! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tnk1 (899206) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:58AM (#44573701)

      Ridiculous. There doesn't need to be any torture. He's someone who is in his early 20s looking at the possibility of the rest of his life in a military prison. Like many younger people, he didn't think through the results of his "heroism".

      To me his statement sounds incredibly insincere, but insincere or not, he's trying to ensure he actually has some non-grey hair on his head the next time he's a free man. This isn't a capitulation, it's grovelling for less jail time. If one of us was stupid enough to do what he did, we'd probably grovel the same way too. No torture required.

      This statement doesn't mean anything other than he's throwing himself on the mercy of the court to see if they want to be soft on him for caving in. And who knows, maybe he actually did have a change of heart. There's a lot of things people do that they regret later, jail or not. I don't think he did, but it is possible.

      • Re:Amazing! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:07AM (#44573793)

        There doesn't need to be torture, but there WAS torture.

        Manning was subjected to treatment that is internationally defined as torture. The US newspeak said it was for his own protection.

        Fuck you can't make this shit up.

  • Greatest Hero (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:29AM (#44573409)

    Manning is a hero. The disclosures of the illegal activities of the illegal U.S.A. Government will reverberate for decades. It had to be done.

  • Mr. Manning ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MacTO (1161105) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:31AM (#44573425)

    Any action is going to have positive and negative consequences. The question is: does the good outweigh the bad?

    It's probably too early to tell if your actions served the greater good.

    On the other hand, what you did was important for your country: the United States is a representative democracy. In order for your government to work as intended, both the representatives and electorat must have information regarding both policies and how those policies are implemented. Without that information, decisions are ill informed (at best) and possibly even manipulated to serve the interests of the government, a particular branch of the government, or a small group of individuals (at worse).

  • by apcullen (2504324) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:31AM (#44573429)
    If there was something that the US was doing that bothered him, why didn't he just leak what was relevant to that instead of just dumping everything? There were a lot of embarrassing revelations that came out of his wikileaks dump, and whatever he was trying to accomplish, those stupid but insignificant tid-bits overshadowed it.
    • by Qwertie (797303) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @02:40PM (#44576743) Homepage
      Bradley Manning didn't dump everything. His most famous leak, the 250,000 diplomatic cables, were not simply released. According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], at first Wikileaks itself released just a couple of cables. Next, it partnered with some news outlets to select specific cables to leak (with redactions to prevent harm to individuals). They released 220 cables at first, and a few thousand more later. Granted, the whole set of 250,000 were fully accessible to specific journalists, but it's not at all the same as a "data dump".

      Some months later, a boneheaded journalist published the actual password for decrypting the original cables; later, a backup of the encrypted cables somehow became available as a torrent, so the full set of cables could be decrypted. But this was unintentional and of course, neither of these mistakes was made by Manning himself.

      I myself question the wisdom of Manning's release of these cables (I respect him mainly for leaking the Collateral Murder video) but the idea that he "dumped everything" is plainly false.
  • Damn. (Score:5, Informative)

    by stewsters (1406737) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:33AM (#44573441)
    He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
  • Who was hurt? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RivenAleem (1590553) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:42AM (#44573539)

    Did I miss something? Have we got actual examples of people who were hurt by this?

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @09:55AM (#44573657) Homepage

    "I'm sorry I hurt people. I'm sorry that I hurt the United States," said Manning

    Is this sonofabitch calling the Pentagon a liar? How dare he! The Pentagon investigated and clearly reported that the Wikileaks leak did not pose a threat.

    DoD Says Wikileaks Not a Threat [salon.com]

    The Pentagon is telling NBCâ(TM)s Michael Isikoff that a special assessment team looking over the WikiLeaks Afghanistan war logs has found nothing that could damage national security.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:34AM (#44574109)

    ...that sounds suspiciously like the self-accusations during the Moscow Trials [wikipedia.org].

  • Scripted much (Score:4, Informative)

    by mbone (558574) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @10:36AM (#44574147)

    'How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?'

    It is not surprising that courts want people to say certain things, to re-establish their sense of moral correctness and order, or that they get the people in front of them to say these things. It is (always) surprising that anyone not on the bench gives these words any weight at all. Coerced testimony is, after all, no true testimony at all.

    As for Manning, I think that Geek Empire [medium.com] nails it

    Someday, Bradley Manning will be as forgotten to them as Monica Lewinsky is. Then they’ll yield to the hornet-like, persistent buzz of the leftie peaceniks, and let Bradley go. He’s not dangerous. Bradley Manning will never do anything of similar consequence again. He’s not a power player. He’s a prisoner of conscience.

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @11:31AM (#44574799)

    Perhaps the classified sentencing testimony had a strong emotional impact on PFC Manning. Maybe he realized that he really did, quite unnecessarily, hurt a lot of people. He's an emotionally damaged kid.

    He deserves real prison time, but not something that's going to take most of his life away.

  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @11:56AM (#44575073)

    "'How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?"

    Whenever I begin a sentance with how on earth followed immediately by possibly nonsensical belligerance is sure to follow ... who knows if this was sincere or not but It does remind me of another "confession"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Pueblo_(AGER-2)#Aftermath [wikipedia.org]

  • by Bohnanza (523456) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @12:24PM (#44575311)
    The end.
  • John McCain (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tokolosh (1256448) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @12:37PM (#44575471)

    I believe McCain is a dolt, but at least he was a brave dolt. He was captured and tortured in Viet Nam. While under torture, he signed confessions and accusations against the United States. But yet he was elected as a senator. There are many other examples, as others have pointed out.

    Manning is in good company.

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