Wikileaks on Tuesday said the conviction of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning sets "a dangerous precedent and (is) an example of national security extremism."
"It is a short sighted judgment that can not be tolerated and must be reversed," the group said in a statement. "It can never be that conveying true information to the public is 'espionage'."
I like that phrase -- "national security extremism." Even so, I can see how publicizing secret information might count as espionage in certain instances. For example: If a German sympathizer had found out the date for D-Day and transmitted that information to the general public ahead of time, thereby spoiling Allied plans, that
might be construed as espionage, and as aiding the enemy
But I don't think that what Manning did belongs in that category.
A military judge has found Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history, not guilty of aiding the enemy -- a charge that would have carried a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Norman Solomon's response
Manning was also found not guilty of unauthorized possession of information relating to national defense.
He was found guilty of most of the remaining charges against him, with the judge, Col. Denise Lind, accepting only two of the guilty pleas he had made previously to lesser charges. Those two were possession of a video that was marked classified and that he exceeded authority by obtaining a State Department cable.
Though those two counts carry a maximum sentence of two years, the rest of the charges that Manning was found guilty of could lead to a maximum sentence of 136 years in prison.
Days ago, in closing argument, the prosecutor at Fort Meade thundered: "He was not a whistleblower; he was a traitor."
But a "traitor" to what? To the United States... only if the United States is to be a warfare state, where we "cannot make informed decisions as a public." Only if we obey orders to separate ourselves from the humanity of others. Only if authoritative, numbing myths are to trump empathy and hide painful truth.
Just so. It is obvious that Manning released the video not out of hatred or jealousy but empathy, and that any attempt to ascribe baser motive is strained. Just as obviously, the United States government came down hard on the guy not because releasing that video harmed our security, but because that video embarrassed the military. One might even draw a parallel to the Dreyfuss case.
As Amnesty International
“The government’s priorities are upside down. The US government has refused to investigate credible allegations of torture and other crimes under international law despite overwhelming evidence.
“Yet they decided to prosecute Manning who it seems was trying to do the right thing – reveal credible evidence of unlawful behaviour by the government. You investigate and prosecute those who destroy the credibility of the government by engaging in acts such as torture which are prohibited under the US Constitution and in international law.
“The government’s pursuit of the ‘aiding the enemy’ charge was a serious overreach of the law, not least because there was no credible evidence of Manning’s intent to harm the USA by releasing classified information to WikiLeaks.
“Since the attacks of September 11, we have seen the US government use the issue of national security to defend a whole range of actions that are unlawful under international and domestic law.
“It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that Manning’s trial was about sending a message: the US government will come after you, no holds barred, if you’re thinking of revealing evidence of its unlawful behaviour.”
Brad Friedman has published some interesting "tweets of reaction"
Ali Abunimah @AliAbunimah
Undeniable fact is that if #BradleyManning had illegally tortured people for the CIA, Obama would’ve protected him from trial. End of story.
Cenk Uygur ✔ @cenkuygur
Does anyone really believe that if Bradley Manning had committed war crimes instead of exposing them that he would be in bigger trouble?
Cenk Uygur ✔ @cenkuygur
What punishment did the commander in charge of Abu Ghraib torture get? $8,000 fine.
It's hard to believe that in 2008, the Barack Obama campaign issued these words
We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government.