Manning’s leaks harm US foreign relations: Official
FORT MEADE - ReutersU.S. soldier Bradley Manning’s leaks of classified government files had a “chilling effect” on foreign relations, impeding U.S. diplomats’ ability to gather information, a senior State Department official testified on Aug. 5.
The unauthorized releases made foreign diplomats, business leaders and other information sources “reticent to provide their full and frank opinions and share them with us,” Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy said. “Every single embassy” was affected, said Kennedy, who warned about long-term consequences of Manning’s 2010 leaks to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. The releases will have “a chilling effect that will go on for some time” by cutting off information that political leaders need to make foreign policy decisions, he noted.
136 years in prison
Kennedy testified at the sentencing hearing for Manning, who was convicted last week on criminal charges that included espionage. The hearing is to help the court-martial determine how long the private first class should be in prison.
Kennedy was part of a panel that assessed the damage Manning caused to U.S. foreign relations by releasing more than 700,000 classified documents and videos. At one point, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out publicly in defense of her colleagues who sent the messages, which are known as diplomatic cables. Attorneys for Manning quoted other U.S. government officials including former Defense Secretary Robert Gates downplaying any fallout from the releases.
Judge Colonel Denise Lind found Manning, 25, guilty on July 30 of 19 criminal counts related to the leaks, the largest unauthorized release of secret data in U.S. history. The files included more than 250,000 State Department cables. Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge, but the crimes still carry penalties that could lead to up to 136 years in prison.