Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, who was convicted of violations of the Espionage Act after copying and disseminating classified military field reports, State Department cables, and assessments of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, gave the first interview since being released from prison, tearfully thanking former President Obama for commuting Manning’s 35-year sentence.
On Good Morning America, Juju Chang asked what Manning would say to Obama if given the chance. Manning wept, “Thank you. I was given a chance, that’s all I wanted. That’s all I asked for, was a chance, that’s it. And this is my chance.”
Manning downloaded over 700,000 classified documents from military servers and sent them to Wikileaks, winding up serving six years of the 35-year sentence. Manning had filed a petition for release in November 2016 in which Manning blamed the military for the 35-year sentence, stating, "I should have waited. I needed time to absorb the conviction, and to reflect on my actions. I also needed time to grow and mature as a person. I take full and complete responsibility for my decision to disclose these materials to the public. I have never made any excuses for what I did. I pleaded guilty without the protection of a plea agreement because I believed the military justice system would understand my motivation for the disclosure and sentence me fairly. I was wrong."
On Good Morning America, Manning told Chang, “I’ve accepted responsibility. No one told me to do this, no one directed me to do this, this is me. It’s on me.”
Posing as a military expert, the former Army private asserted that the enemies the U.S. was fighting had their good points, too, saying:
You’re getting all this information, and it’s just death, destruction, mayhem, and eventually you just stop — I stopped seeing — just statistics and information, and I started seeing people. Counterinsurgency warfare is not a simple thing. It’s not as simple as good guys versus bad guys. It is a mess.
Asked whether the action of releasing classified information endangered national security, Manning boasted, “I have a responsibility to the public.”
Video below, with the section regarding Obama at roughly 3:00: