For the first time, 25-year-old U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning has admitted to being the source behind the largest leak of state secrets in U.S. history. More than a thousand days after he was arrested, Manning testified Thursday before a military court. He said he leaked the classified documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in order to show the American public the “true costs of war.” Reading for more than an hour from a 35-page statement, Manning said: “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information … this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.” At the pretrial hearing at Fort Meade military base in Maryland, Manning pleaded guilty to reduced charges on 10 counts, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. But even if the judge accepts the plea, prosecutors can still pursue a court-martial on the remaining 12 charges. The most serious of those is “aiding the enemy” and carries a possible life sentence. We are joined by Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He just returned from attending Manning’s hearing. [includes rush transcript]
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has launched a nationwide campaign to assess police militarization in the United States. Starting Wednesday, ACLU affiliates in 23 states are sending open records requests to hundreds of state and local police agencies requesting information about their SWAT teams, such as how often and for what reasons they’re deployed, what types of weapons they use, how often citizens are injured during SWAT raids, and how they’re funded. More affiliates may join the effort in the coming weeks.
Additionally, the affiliates will ask for information about drones, GPS tracking devices, how much military equipment the police agencies have obtained through programs run through the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, and how often and for what purpose state National Guards are participating in enforcement of drug laws.