Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was found guilty of espionage, theft, and dozens of other charges, for passing confidential information to Wikileaks, apologized yesterday for "hurting" the United States. "I want to start off with an apology. I am sorry. I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I am sorry that it hurt the United States," Manning said to military Judge Col. Denise R. Lind. She acted in such a manner, she said, because of "a lot of issues."
At the time of my decisions, as you know, I was dealing with a lot of issues— issues that are ongoing and they are continuing to affect me," said Manning, who read from a prepared statement and notably was found not guilty of aiding the enemy. From Manning's letter, via Gawker:
"Although they have caused me considerable difficulty in my life, these issues are not an excuse for my actions. I understood what I was doing and the decisions I made. However, I did not truly appreciate the broader effects of my actions. Those effects are clearer to me now through both self-reflection during my confinement in its various forms and through the merits and sentencing testimony that I have seen here."
The main "issue," to use her loaded phrase, is that Manning is transgender, a diagnosis Army Psychiatrist Navy Capt. David Moulton said contributed to Manning's isolation in the "hyper-masculine" military realm. "His decision-making capacity was influenced by the stress of his situation for sure," Moulton testified during Manning's trial. Moulton also blamed narcissism and idealism as motivating Manning, who also told Judge Lind that had she considered the ramifications of her actions, actions the government said put lives at risk, that she would have acted "inside the system."
"I am sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions. When I made these decisions I believed I was gonna help people, not hurt people. The last few years have been a learning experience. I look back at my decisions and wonder, 'How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?'
"In retrospect I should have worked more aggressively inside the system… Unfortunately, I can't go back and change things. I can only go forward. I want to go forward. Before I can do that though, I understand that I must pay a price for my decisions and actions."
Manning, a highly controversial figure, has yet to be sentenced for her crimes, but faces up to 90 years in prison, but she hopes that Judge Lind will be lenient. She would like to go to college, become "a better person," and spend time with her family.
"Once I pay that price, I hope to one day live in the manner I haven't been able to in the past. I want to be a better person— to go to college— to get a degree— and to have a meaningful relationship with my sister's family and my family.
"I want to be a positive influence in their lives, just as my aunt Deborah has been to me. I have flaws and issues that I have to deal with, but I know that I can and will be a better person. I hope you can give me the opportunity to prove— not through words, but through conduct— that I am a good person, and that I can return to a productive place in society."
Are you swayed by Manning's remarks? Do you think she deserves to spend the rest of her life behind bars?