FORT MEADE, Maryland - U.S. soldier Bradley Manning's former commander in Iraq says morale among his troops "took a hit" after they learned their colleague was suspected of leaking thousands of classified documents.
"The last thing I anticipated was an internal security breach from one of our own," Col. David Miller said Friday as the fourth week of Manning's trial on charges of aiding the enemy drew to a close.
Manning admits he leaked hundreds of thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks, but he says he did it to expose wrongdoing and document "the true costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," including the deaths of two Reuters news employees killed in a U.S. helicopter attack.
The 25-year-old soldier has admitted sending more than 700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and State Department diplomatic cables, along with several battlefield video clips, to WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in from November 2009 through May 2010.
Manning said the diplomatic cables revealed secret pacts and duplicity that he thought should be exposed.
Manning's fellow troops felt the allegations were a blemish on the otherwise good work they'd done in the war zone, Miller said Friday.
"My read of my staff at that time was, it was like a funeral-like atmosphere fell over that crowd," said Miller. "That's the best way I would describe it - they were angry, sad ... frustrated all at the same time."
Earlier Friday, the military judge ruled prosecutors can introduce tweets suggesting Manning took his cues from WikiLeaks in disclosing classified information. But the judge also ruled that prosecutors had not authenticated another piece of evidence, a "most wanted" list that WikiLeaks purportedly posted in November 2009. She said prosecutors still can try to authenticate the list.
The list and tweets were offered as evidence that Manning aided the enemy by leaking documents he knew would be published online.