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The setting from which Bradley Manning sent Wikileaks "the most significant documents of our time" isn't straight out of a Bond movie — turns out it was a busy Barnes and Noble in suburban Maryland.

This one, it seems.

It's across the street from a Cici's Pizza; it shares a parking lot with a Capital One. It's a scene anonymous in its own right, one that exists on the periphery of any large- or medium-sized city in America.

Journalist Alexa O'Brien has been transcribing the lengthy personal statement Manning gave in court this afternoon, including how the former Army private captured and uploaded the data.

Manning had become familiar with Wikileaks after looking at the 9/11 text messages the group released as part of his intelligence work. He suggests that he'd downloaded the files at issue in the open, to serve as a backup. Having grown disillusioned with the war on terror, Manning turned to Wikileaks after having no luck with traditional media outlets.

Manning saved the files on the memory stick from his camera and, while on mid-tour leave, went to the Barnes and Noble.

While around him people sipped coffee and skimmed through novels at one of Barnes and Noble's 700 branches, twenty miles away, the Pentagon had no idea of what had just been triggered. Maybe B&N should get rid of those bookstores after all.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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