“Although they have caused me considerable difficulty in my life, these issues are not an excuse for my actions,” Manning said. “I understood what I was doing and the decisions I made. However, I did not truly appreciate the broader effects of my actions. Those effects are clearer to me now through both self-reflection during my confinement in its various forms and through the merits and sentencing testimony that I have seen here.”
The irony of this admission is that it’s extremely hard to know the broad implications of leaking such a treasure trove of classified material. How this massive leak will affect us a year or decade from now is hard to tell. I suspect Manning’s and Snowden’s leaks will have an impact as more and more of the information is made public. Already, calls have been made for restrictions on spying on Americans and for greater transparency. Far from harming the United States, the public may well benefit in the end.