Feedback: Manning Not Guilty Of Aiding Enemy, Still Faces Long Sentence
Former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning has been acquitted of the most serious charge against him -- aiding the enemy -- a charge that carried a potential life sentence. But he still faces up to 136 years in prison at a sentencing hearing that begins tomorrow.
Manning is a former Fort Drum soldier, with the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
The judge at the court-martial in Maryland deliberated for about 16 hours over three days before deciding to convict Manning on espionage, theft and computer fraud charges, but not on the charge of aiding the enemy.
Manning had acknowledged giving WikiLeaks more than 700,000 battlefield reports and diplomatic cables, and video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack that killed civilians in Iraq. He said during a pre-trial hearing that he leaked the material to expose what he said was the military's "bloodlust" and disregard for human life.
A defense lawyer said Manning could have sold the information or given it directly to the enemy, but chose instead to give the material to WikiLeaks to "spark reform" and provoke debate.
Prosecutors said Manning knew the material would be seen by al-Qaida, and that he broke signed agreements to protect the secrets.
Reaction to Tuesday's verdict was mixed, in the north country and elsewhere.
"I think what he did was incredibly wrong," Maria Allesch, a military spouse, told 7 News reporter Rachel Spotts. "And I think the acquittal is a joke. I think it's terrible."
"If you're going to put that many soldier's lives in danger by letting out info that's obviously classified, then you should definitely be brought to justice," said Sgt. Anthony Inzitari.
On the other hand, Heinz Regner, an Ontario resident visiting Watertown Tuesday, said "I think there's too many secrets that the government is not telling us anymore. People have had enough. And I don't blame people for letting the cat out of the bag, you could say."
The website that served as Pfc. Bradley Manning's conduit for spilled U.S. secrets is describing his espionage convictions as "dangerous national security extremism from the Obama administration."
Friday, February 12, 2016, Watertown, NY