The Associated Press
FORT MEADE, Md. -- The classified information Pfc. Bradley Manning revealed through WikiLeaks fractured U.S. military relationships with foreign governments and Afghan villagers, a former general said yesterday at the soldier's sentencing hearing.
It was the first time testimony about the actual damage the leaks may have caused has been allowed at trial.
Retired Army Brig. Gen. Robert Carr said the material Manning leaked identified hundreds of friendly Afghan villagers by name, causing some of them to stop helping U.S. forces.
"One of our primary missions is to protect the population over there," said Carr, who led a Defense Department task force that looked at the risks of the leaks. "We had to get close to the population, had to understand that population and we had to protect them. If the adversary had more clarity, as to which people in the village were collaborating with the U.S. forces, then there is a chance that those folks could be at greater risk."
The former intelligence analyst was convicted of 20 of 22 charges for sending hundreds of thousands of government and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks and faces up to 136 years in prison. He was found not guilty of aiding the enemy.
Manning's defense is hoping for a much shorter prison sentence and asked the military judge hearing the case to merge two of his espionage convictions and two of his theft convictions. If Army Col. Denise Lind agrees to do so, he would face up to 116 years in prison.
Carr said the Taliban killed an Afghan man who had a relationship with the United States, and later the Taliban said publicly the man was associated with the Manning leaks. The general, however, couldn't find the Afghan's name in the material Manning revealed.
The defense objected and the judge said she would disregard that part of his testimony.
Military prosecutors said they would call as many as 20 witnesses for the sentencing phase. The government said as many as half of the prosecution witnesses would testify about classified matters in closed court. They include experts on counterintelligence, strategic planning and terrorism.