Manning takes stand, apologizes for hurting US
In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Army, Pfc. Bradley Manning poses for a photo wearing a wig and lipstick. Manning emailed his military therapist the photo with a letter titled, "My problem," in which he described his issues with gender identity and his hope that a military career would "get rid of it." (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
FILE - In this July 30, 2013 file photo, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md. Manning is expected to give a statement Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, during the sentencing phase of his court-martial for leaking military and diplomatic secrets. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
In this July 26, 2013, photo kayakers move to the right side of the channel in the Chicago River as a tour boat passes by in Chicago. After decades of heaping scorn and pollution upon the Chicago River, the city is opening urban waterways for kayaking and other recreation _ and running into the reality that the river is still an industrial superhighway for tows and tugs hauling floating fortresses. (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)
FILE - In this June 25, 2012 file photo, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., after a pretrial hearing. A military judge hears closing arguments on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2012, on whether Manning who is charged with sending classified material to WikiLeaks, suffered illegal pretrial punishment during nine months in a Marine Corps brig. Army Pfc. Bradley Mannings lawyers claim his treatment was so egregious that all charges should be dismissed. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, HO)
Pfc. Bradley Manning took the stand yesterday at his sentencing hearing in the
WikiLeaks case and apologized for hurting his country, pleading with a military judge for a chance to go to college and become a productive citizen.
He addressed the court on a day of often emotional testimony from family members about his troubled childhood and from a psychologist who said Manning felt extreme mental pressure in the “hyper-masculine” military because of his gender-identity disorder – his feeling that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body.
“I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I’m sorry that they hurt the United States,” he said as he began.
The soldier said that he understood what he was doing but that he did not believe at the time that leaking a mountain of classified information to the anti-secrecy website would cause harm to the U.S.
Though he often showed little reaction to court proceedings during most of the two and a half month court-martial, Manning appeared to struggle to contain his emotions several times yesterday during testimony from his sister, an aunt and two mental health counselors, one who treated him and another who diagnosed him with several problems.
Manning, 25, could be sentenced to 90 years in prison for the leaks, which occurred while he was working as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010. The judge will impose the sentence, though exactly when is unclear.
Speaking quickly but deliberately, Manning took only a few minutes to make his statement yesterday. He appeared to be reading it from papers he was holding and looked up a number of times to make eye contact with the judge.
He said he realizes now that he should have worked more aggressively “inside the system” to draw attention to his concerns about the way the war was being waged. He said he wants to get a college degree, and he asked for a chance to become a more productive member of society.
His conciliatory tone was at odds with the statement he gave in court in February, when he condemned the actions of U.S. soldiers overseas and what he called the military’s “bloodlust.”
Defense attorney David Coombs told Manning supporters that Manning’s heart was in the right place.
“His one goal was to make this world a better place,” Coombs said.
Manning’s apology could carry substantial weight with the military judge, said Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale.
“He faces extraordinarily long confinement, and if he is coming across subjectively as contrite, I think that may do him some real good with the sentencing,” Fidell said.