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Soldier accused of leaking classified info

By Laurie Ure, CNN Pentagon Producer

Washington (CNN) -- Federal officials arrested a 22-year-old U.S. Army intelligence analyst for allegedly leaking classified military information, the U.S. military announced Monday.

According to Wired.com, Spc. Bradley Manning of Potomac, Maryland, leaked the classified 2007 video of an American helicopter strike that killed several civilians in Baghdad to the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.com, which posted the video in April.

Wired.com reported that Manning confessed to the leak in a series of online chats with a former computer hacker. He allegedly owned up to leaking other items to WikiLeaks, including a classified Army document assessing the threat level of the website, according to the article, as well as State Department cables.

Manning was deployed with the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, in Baghdad, Iraq, according to the military.

Christopher Grey, the Army's chief of public affairs and media, said Manning has been placed in pretrial confinement in Kuwait while the Army conducts an investigation into whether Manning released classified information.

Grey and other U.S. officials, including State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, would not confirm the Wired.com report that Manning is accused of leaking items to WikiLeaks.

Crowley confirmed that State Department cables were among the material allegedly leaked but said he was "not aware" that any of the cables had been publicly disclosed.

"It has particular impact in terms of potentially revealing what we call sources of methods -- compromising our ability to provide government leaders with the kind of analysis that they need to make informed decisions," Crowley said. "So this is a serious issue and we are fully cooperating with the other agencies of government."

The documents "were allegedly passed to an entity that is not authorized to have this information, but what the impact of this will be, we'll evaluate over time," Crowley said.

WikiLeaks describes itself as a "public service designed to protect whistle-blowers, journalists and activists who have sensitive materials to communicate to the public."

"We believe that transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies," WikiLeaks says on its website.

"The Department of Defense takes the management of classified information very seriously because it affects our national security, the lives of our soldiers, and our operations abroad," the Pentagon said in a news release.

Adrian Lamo, the former hacker who said in Twitter posts that he turned Manning over to authorities, defended his actions on his Twitter page.

"I outed Brad Manning as an alleged leaker out of duty," Lamo wrote in one post.

"Hackers confide in me all the time. I'd go to prison before I'd betray their trust. I didn't get Manning arrested. He got himself arrested," Lamo wrote in a separate tweet.

In one of his chats with Lamo, Wired.com reported that Manning wrote "Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public." Manning further claimed that the documents expose "almost criminal political back dealings," Wired.com reported.

Wikileaks did not return requests for comment, but on its Twitter site, the group said it did not know whether Manning was the source of the video leak.

"We never collect personal information on our sources, so we are are unable as yet to confirm," one Twitter posting noted.

 
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