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U.S. Army probing its mistakes with Manning

From Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Army sent private to Iraq despite advice
  • His intelligence analyst skills were needed
  • Immediate officers knew Manning would have access to classified materials

Washington (CNN) -- Even as the U.S. military investigates Pfc. Bradley Manning, it's also been looking at its own department.

Specifically, what steps may have been missed that led to Manning being accused of one of the largest leaks of classified material in U.S. history.

A military official says Army commanders at Fort Drum, N.Y., were advised that Manning might not be fit for deployment, but they disregarded that advice and sent him to Iraq anyway. The official said the recommendation against deployment was not based on physical fitness but would not elaborate further.

The Washington Post and McClatchy Newspapers reported earlier in the week that the recommendation was made by a mental health specialist.

The official says this was discovered in an internal Army investigation into Manning's case. Investigators found that Manning was deployed, the official says, because of "specifically, the unit's needs in regard to Manning's skills." As an intelligence analyst, Manning received valuable training in skills that were in high demand when he was sent to Iraq.

He says Manning's immediate commanding officers knew his work in Iraq would include access to classified material on Department of Defense computers.

Army Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen is in charge of the investigation, which is separate from the criminal investigation into Manning himself.

Manning is charged with leaking classified government documents including a classified military video of an attack in Iraq that was posted online by WikiLeaks. He is facing eight counts of violating the U.S. criminal code for allegedly leaking the video. He is also believed to be the prime suspect in the latest leak of scores of documents to WikiLeaks.org. It was the largest ever intelligence leak in American history.

Manning has been detained in the Quantico, Virginia, brig for the past seven months.