The audio of his full statement lets those following his case receive an intimate and complete portrayal of Manning's journey and the motives for the leaks he plead guilty to on Feb. 28.
He began by describing the work as an intelligence analyst he did while in the Army, which reports he had access to and the ways he interacted with that data. He points out he was trained to keep backups of his work and that he did so diligently. This explains why he had copies of the information he would later provide to WikiLeaks.
Manning outlined how his relationship with WikiLeaks developed, starting out as an organization he monitored as part of his job, then gradually he began interacting with them due to shared interests.
"Over a period of time I became more involved in [chat room] discussions especially when conversations turned to geopolitical events and information technology topics, such as networking and encryption methods. Based on these observations, I would describe the WikiLeaks organization as almost academic in nature."
On Jan. 8, 2010, Manning decided to make a copy of information he had access to he found questionable that outlined the sense he had gathered that the US's occupation of Iraq was not going well.
"I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the [documents] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general."
Once he made the decision to leak his data, Manning first contacted the Washington Post and the New York Times; both failed to show signs of interest in publishing. It was then that he decided to reach out to WikiLeaks.
He told WikiLeaks he had "information that needed to be shared with the world" that would "help document the true cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
After providing the data to WikiLeaks, Manning said he had a "clear conscience" and felt confident in his decision.
Shortly thereafter, Manning began intensive research on diplomatic cables, particularly one concerning Iceland and their struggle with international banking institutions. Iceland had reached out to the US for help, but for "geopolitical" reasons, the US declined.
On Feb. 15, 2010, Manning decided to copy the information and leak the cable to WikiLeaks.
It was also around this time Manning became aware of the video that would later be known as "Collateral Murder" that depicted an aerial team killing Iraqis from a helicopter.
Manning conducted research on the incident and soon discovered two Reuters journalists had been killed. A Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the video by Reuters to "help avoid the reoccurrence of the tragedy" was met with an indefinite time frame and claim that the video "might no longer exist."
Manning burned the video to a disc on Feb. 15, the same day he saved the diplomatic cable. He originally planned to release the video to Reuters when he left for re-deployment later that summer, but because WikiLeaks had published his cable earlier than he expected, he decided to release the video to them as well.
The last big leak he released included an exhaustive amount of diplomatic cables between various countries. For his reasoning, Manning said, "I thought these cables were a prime example of a need for a more open diplomacy," and indicated he felt it did the global community a disservice to have international relationships forged in secrecy.
On March 22, 2010, Manning began sharing the cables to WikiLeaks. The leak of the cables provided perhaps the biggest backlash from the US government, media and public out of all of Manning's leaks.
On the assertion that the cables provided a threat to US national security, the private had this to say:
"I believe that the public release of these cables would not damage the United States; however, I did believe that the cables might be embarrassing, since they represented very honest opinions and statements behind the backs of other nations and organizations."
In regards to his overall relationship with the WikiLeaks organization, Manning seems to put the responsibility of the leaks squarely on his shoulders, stating, "the decisions that I made to send documents and information to the WLO and the website were my own decisions, and I take full responsibility for my actions."
Private Bradley Manning's full statement can be heard in the video attached to the article and here.
Emilie Rensink writes about civil liberties, counter-terrorism, cyber-security and political activism. Subscribe to get her articles delivered to your inbox.