TODAY   |  March 12, 2013

Bradley Manning admits to giving info to WikiLeaks

An anti-secrecy group, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, has released a recording of Bradley Manning’s courtroom statement, in which he admits to illegally giving WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of government documents. NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports.

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>>> we have new details in the case of an army private accused of leaking private documents to wikileaks. bradley manning faces a court-martial this spring. now a recording is being released by an anti-secrecy group that wants to portray manning as a whistleblower. here's michael isikoff .

>> i'm the type of person who likes to know how things work, and as an a analyst i always want to figure out the truth.

>> reporter: that's the voice of bradley manning being heard for the first time explaining his disenchantment with the u.s. military while serving in iraq.

>> we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists.

>> reporter: in military court manning admitted he illegally gave wikileaks hundreds of thousands of government documents as well as this 2007 video of a helicopter attack in iraq that mistakenly killed innocent civilians.

>> come on, fire.

>> they dehumanized the individuals they were engages and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as dead -- .

>> reporter: today there is a recording of manning 's courtroom statement provided to the group and made in violation of court rules.

>> in an era where government secrecy is at an all-time high, bradley manning should be commended rather than condemned.

>> reporter: one former state department officials say manning 's actions were indefensible.

>> it's nonsense to call bradley manning a political prisoner . he's a member of the military. he was serving in an active war zone . he took it upon himself to compromise hundreds of thousands of documents.

>> reporter: manning 's case provoked controversy.

>> free bradley manning !

>> reporter: he's been accused of aiding the enemy which could bring a life sentence .

>> the government is trying to scare the daylights out of other people so they don't engage in the same conduct.

>> reporter: for "today," michael isikoff , nbc news, washington.