Wednesday, February 09, 2011

"Did Manning jump, or was he pushed?" Much Lies In The Answer

.....If you spend any time at all reading about Bradley Manning, the young U.S. Army private who stands accused of providing WikiLeaks with massive amounts of intelligence pulled from the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network used by the Pentagon and the State Department, the picture that emerges is one of a young man who also felt isolated, one who saw WikiLeaks as a means of ameliorating that feeling. Manning remains in custody -- a particularly brutal form of solitary confinement, actually -- at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va.

Manning still faces charges of his own, but he's played a larger role in the tensions between U.S. government officials and WikiLeaks, in that he is seen as the key figure in building a larger criminal case against WikiLeaks founder and figurehead Julian Assange. That Manning willingly provided WikiLeaks with classified information does not appear to be in dispute. The issue, rather, is one of "did Manning jump or was he pushed?"

U.S. officials have been gamely attempting to make the case that Assange induced Manning to provide WikiLeaks with government documents. Now, according to the Wall Street Journal's Julian Barnes and Evan Perez, that case has cratered:

New findings suggest Pfc. Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst accused of handing over the data to the WikiLeaks website, initiated the theft himself, officials said. That contrasts with the initial portrait provided by Defense Department officials of a young man taken advantage of by Mr. Assange.

Further denting the push by some government officials to prosecute Mr. Assange, the probes have found little to link the two men, though others affiliated with WikiLeaks have been tied to Pfc. Manning, officials said.

For the U.S. to bring its preferred case against Mr. Assange of inducing the leak, it would have to show that the WikiLeaks founder specifically encouraged Mr. Manning to hand over the documents, which included thousands of State Department cables, as well as low-level intelligence reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and Justice Department lawyers continue to gather evidence for a possible conspiracy charge against Mr. Assange, but that's a harder case to make, government officials said. more HuffPo

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