Manning Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charges, but Not "Aiding the Enemy"

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 28 2013 1:23 PM

Bradley Manning Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charges, but Not "Aiding the Enemy"

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Pfc. Bradley E. Manning is escorted from a hearing, on Jan. 8, 2013 in Fort Meade, Md.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Bradley Manning pleaded guilty today to 10 of the 22 charges he faces for sending hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the Julian Assange's WikiLeaks in violation of military regulations. The Army private, however, isn't admitting guilt for the more severe charges that he violated federal espionage laws, including one that comes with a possible life sentence.

Manning's case, however, is far from over. For starters, the presiding judge must still decide whether to accept his guilty pleas, which could carry a sentence of as many as 20 years in prison. Perhaps more importantly, according to CBS News, prosecutors could still pursue a court-martial on the remaining charges, including that of "aiding the enemy" that could keep Manning behind bars for the rest of his life.

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As the AFP explains, Manning pleaded guilty to "unauthorized possession and willful transmission" of documents related to civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to "knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily" giving classified diplomatic cables to Wikileaks, among others charges.

As part of his plea, Manning was allowed to read a 35-page statement to the court, outlining why he did what he did. "I believe that if the general public ... had access to the information ... this could spark a domestic debate as to the role of the military and foreign policy in general," Manning explained, according to Reuters.

One of the more surprising revelations offered by Manning was that Wikileaks wasn't Manning's first choice when it came to turning over the documents. According to  the Guardian's Ed Pilkington, who was live-tweeting the court proceedings, Manning said he tried and failed to get through to the Washington Post, the New York Times and Politico before ultimately settling on Assange's anti-secrecy website (which in turn worked with a number of media outlets, including the Times).

Manning has been imprisoned at Quantico Marine Base for more than 1,000 days.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.