Bradley Manning Uncovered U.S. Torture, Abuse, Soldiers Laughing As They Killed Innocent Civilians

08/21/2013 10:20 am ET | Updated Aug 21, 2013

FORT MEADE, Md. -- Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst convicted of making public thousands of secret documents, was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in prison. But the files Manning sent to the website WikiLeaks remain on the Internet for anyone to read, and their impact on the world may be debated for as long as he remains in prison.

"Manning was under the impression that his leaked information was going to really change how the world views the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and future wars actually," Navy Capt. David Moulton, a forensic psychiatrist testifying in Manning's defense, told the military court on July 14.

"It was his opinion that if through crowd sourcing that enough analysis was done on these documents, which he felt to be very important, that it would lead to greater good, that society as a whole would come to the conclusion that the wars weren't worth it, that really no wars are worth it."

Here are some of the documents and revelations Manning leaked to the world from the small, sensitive, compartmented information facility in Iraq where he worked as an intelligence analyst from 2009 to 2010.

1. The 'Collateral Murder' Apache helicopter video

Manning released this graphic video of a U.S. Apache helicopter attack on a group of people gathered in Baghdad. Two were employees of the Reuters news agency. A member of the helicopter crew refers to the "dead bastards" he killed, and the crew lights up a passing van that stopped to help victims of the first round of gunfire.

Reuters unsuccessfully requested a copy of the video under the Freedom of Information Act, but only Manning revealed it to the world. An Army investigation into the attack, released only after Manning's leak was published, concluded that the helicopter crew had followed the rules of engagement.

2. The Reykjavik-13 cable
Far less known than the Apache video was this classified 2010 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik released on Feb. 18, 2010. The first of Manning's leaks to be published, it caused an immediate sensation in Iceland for its frank discussion of U.S. indifference toward problems in the small island nation's banking sector.

The cable's release energized the activists in Iceland who edited "Collateral Murder."

3. The Iraq War Logs
As part of his work as an Army intelligence analyst, Manning had access to a wealth of sensitive Army documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Called SIGACTS (significant activities), in military parlance, they detailed nighttime raids and improvised explosives attacks with intimate on-the-ground reports from U.S. troops.

Manning gave WikiLeaks nearly 400,000 SIGACTS from Iraq. They were published in October 2010. The Pentagon had always maintained that it did not keep track of civilian casualties in Iraq, but the independent Iraq Body Count website used the SIGACTS to confirm and update its count of deaths in the conflict.

As of this month, the Iraq Body Count's Josh Dougherty related, the organization had added 4,000 deaths to its database as a result of Manning's leaks and was likely to add another 10,000.

"These and thousands of others like them are known to the world today only because Bradley Manning could no longer in good conscience collude with an official policy of the Bush and Obama administrations to abuse secrecy and 'national security' to erase them from history," Dougherty wrote on the group's website. "If Manning deserves any punishment at all for this, certainly his three years already served, and the disgraceful abuse he was made to suffer during it, is more than enough."

4. The Afghanistan War Logs
On July 25, 2010, just a month after Manning was arrested, WikiLeaks published 75,000 SIGACTS from the Afghanistan battlefield. The New York Times, which participated in their publication, said they offered "an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal."

5. Detention, abuse and torture
Manning's leaks included more than 700 Guantanamo detainee files, many revealing that the U.S. had little reason to continue holding its prisoners. The 250,000 State Department cables he leaked detailed U.S. diplomatic pressure on foreign countries to ignore or excuse extraordinary renditions carried out by the CIA in apparent violation of international law. They also showed that the U.S. routinely failed to investigate reports of prisoner abuse and summary execution by the Iraqi military.

"It brought this issue back into public consciousness again, which is a great thing," Shane Kadidal, a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights who represents Guantanamo detainees, told HuffPost in June.

"And then with everything that Manning released, to some extent the volume of the material is part of the story," Kadidal said. "It's one thing to tell a few anecdotes based on a few items being leaked, but to be able to say across the board that most of the men who are there shouldn't be there, were people that could be safely released … that is pretty staggering."

6. U.S. complicity with repressive Arab regimes
It was no surprise to many living in the Arab world that the United States routinely collaborated with Arab dictators behind closed doors while proclaiming its commitment to democracy in public. Manning's leaks of sensitive State Department cables, however, laid bare the American hypocrisy in the Middle East. By some accounts, they served as a catalyst for the regime changes around the region that would come to be known as the Arab Spring.

In particular, the cables highlighted corruption within the regime of former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The first batch of cables about Tunisia was released in November 2010, two months before Ben Ali fled the country.

"Whether it's cash, services, land, property, or yes, even your yacht, President Ben Ali's family is rumored to covet it and reportedly gets what it wants," the U.S. embassy reported in a June 2008 cable classified secret. "With Tunisians facing rising inflation and high unemployment, the conspicuous displays of wealth and persistent rumors of corruption have added fuel to the fire."

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