Morning Security Brief: Manning Sentenced, More Details on NSA Program, Alleged Chemical Attack in Syria, and More
Bradley Manning is sentenced to 35 years in prison; officials say the NSA surveillance program's scope is much broader than originally disclosed; nations call for a U.N. investigation in Syria after chemical weapons were allegedly used to attack civilians; and more.
► Bradley Manning, the junior Army analyst responsible for the biggest leak of classified U.S. government data in history through Web site Wikileaks, was sentenced yesterday to 35 years in prison by a military judge. He will receive credit for 1,294 days for time served, and his lawyer says he will be eligible for parole after seven years. He is expected to carry out his sentence at the Army prision in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Manning was found not guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy and therefore was not eligible for a life sentence. The judge did order that he be demoted from private to first class private, and be given a dishonorable discharge from the Army. This morning, Manning announced he wishes to be referred to as “Chelsea” and will undergo a sex change . In a statement read on NBC’s “The Today Show,” he wrote, “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”
► The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program’s reach is much broader than originally disclosed to the public, according to “current and former” officials. The article says the program has the ability to “reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic in the hunt for foreign intelligence, including a wide array of communications by foreigners and Americans. In some cases, it retains the written content of emails sent between citizens within the U.S. and also filters domestic phone calls made with Internet technology.” Although the NSA program purports to intercept communications that either begin or end with Americans in foreign lands, these officials also tell the Journal that there’s a strong likelihood purely domestic communications are accidentally intercepted in the process.
► Countries around the world are calling for a United Nations investigation in Syria after an alleged chemical attack against civilians took place Wednesday. The Syrian opposition says government security forces used chemical weapons to launch an attack in a suburb of Damascus, killing scores of people and as many as 1,300. According to CBS, “The attack coincided with the visit by a 20-member U.N. chemical weapons team to Syria to investigate three sites where chemical weapons attacks allegedly occurred during the past year.” In a statement, White House Spokesman Josh Earnest urged Syria to allow the U.N. team already there to investigate the latest attack site. “If the Syrian government has nothing to hide and is truly committed to an impartial and credible investigation of chemical weapons use in Syria, it will facilitate the U.N. team's immediate and unfettered access to this site," he said. France says the world must respond if it is true, reports VOA, while some experts cast doubt on the authenticity of the video, according to euronews.
► In other news, foreign ministers of the European Union agreed yesterday to discontinue the sale of military arms and equipment to Egypt, citing that it could be used for “internal repression.” Meanwhile, Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is to be placed under house arrest following a court order that released him from prison.