The court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning began Monday. Manning has said the documents he sent to WikiLeaks served a valuable purpose. Others agree, but that might not help him legally.
It was during his tour in Iraq in 2010 as he was serving as an intelligence analyst that Pfc. Bradley Manning watched a video stored in the US military’s database that showed two pilots accidentally shooting civilians, among them children and two Reuters reporters.
What particularly bothered him, he said during a statement he read in a February pretrial court hearing, was not only that innocent civilians were killed. It was the cavalier banter of the US military pilots, whose cockpit audio was recorded along with the video.
The pilots were urging a mortally wounded civilian, who was attempting to crawl to safety, to just "pick up a weapon" so they could shoot him. When they realized they had accidentally killed children by firing on a van that was trying to rescue the Reuters reporters, they said, “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”
When Reuters news filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see the video, US Central Command, which was running the war in Iraq, replied that “the video might no longer exist,” Private Manning said. Another US military spokesperson told reporters that CENTCOM did not believe that the video was authentic.
It was at that point, Manning said in February, that he “believed there was a compelling need” for him to release the video to the WikiLeaks website himself.
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