Chelsea Manning's 2010 leak of thousands of Iraq War-related intelligence documents did minimal damage to U.S. national security, a secret report prepared by a Department of Defense task force, and recently obtained by BuzzFeed News, claims. Despite having apparent evidence to the contrary, the federal government publicly alleged that Manning's decision to share the intelligence with WikiLeaks threatened national security.
The newly public 2011 Department of Defense assessment had concluded "with high confidence that disclosure of the Iraq data set will have no direct personal impact on current and former U.S. leadership in Iraq." A separate set of documents leaked by Manning, related to the Afghanistan War, were also found to not have a "significant impact" on American operations, although they were ruled to potentially have significant consequences for the lives of "cooperative Afghans, Iraqis, and other foreign interlocutors" and could mean "serious damage" to "intelligence sources, informants, and the Afghan population."
"The report goes on to say that the documents the task force reviewed contained details about previously undisclosed civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, which 'could be used by the press or our adversaries to negatively impact support for current operations in the region,'" BuzzFeed News writes. Half of the report, which was obtained by BuzzFeed News in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, remains redacted. More than 20 federal agencies, including the FBI, NSA, and CIA, collaborated on the report.
"Chelsea Manning's treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation's most sensitive secrets," House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has asserted, while Trump called Manning a "traitor" last year. Former President Barack Obama commuted Manning's sentence earlier this year. Read more about the Department of Defense's findings at BuzzFeed News. Jeva Lange
Editor's note: This article originally mischaracterized the circumstances of Manning's release from prison. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.