August 21, 2013

Manning not guilty (sort of); take THAT, Obama (updated with sentencing)

Army Private Bradley Manning has beaten the rap on the most serious charges against him in the Wikileaks case. A military judge has found him not guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy.

The charge was fucking ridiculous, and Dear Leader, our constitutional law scholar president knew that then and knows that now. Invoking the Espionage Act was ridiculous enough. That legislation should be repealed and join the Alien and Sedition Acts on the dustbin of bad American legislative history.
Ben Wizner, director of the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project for the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed relief that Private Manning was acquitted of the “most dangerous charge” brought against him, but criticized the espionage charges. 

“While we’re relieved that Mr. Manning was acquitted of the most dangerous charge, the A.C.L.U. has long held the view that leaks to the press in the public interest should not be prosecuted under the Espionage Act,” he said. “Since Manning already pleaded guilty to charges of leaking information — which carry significant punishment — it seems clear that the government was seeking to intimidate anyone who might consider revealing valuable information in the future.” 
That's about right.

And, although this was a military court, not a civilian one, Dear Leader is nonetheless the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States. He could have told prosecutors to drop the "traitor" language.

He could also have told the Army not to have him confined in semi-Supermax solitary confinement, etc.

He did not.

That said, I'm not going to deny that Manning deservedly faced some charges. He did leak classified information. The counts of stealing government property were arguably legit. The leaking of information had already been pled to.

But, remember, this is the Dear Leader who was pursuing Manning:
Private Manning is one of seven people who have been charged with leaking information to the press for public consumption under the Obama administration. Under all previous presidents combined, there were only three such cases.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents Wikileaks in the U.S., has weighed in with a news release:
While the 'aiding the enemy' charges (on which Manning was rightly acquitted) received the most attention from the mainstream media, the Espionage Act itself is a discredited relic of the WWI era, created as a tool to suppress political dissent and antiwar activism, and it is outrageous that the government chose to invoke it in the first place against Manning. Government employees who blow the whistle on war crimes, other abuses and government incompetence should be protected under the First Amendment.
We now live in a country where someone who exposes war crimes can be sentenced to life even if not found guilty of aiding the enemy, while those responsible for the war crimes remain free. If the government equates being a whistleblower with espionage or aiding the enemy, what is the future of journalism in this country?  What is the future of the First Amendment?
Manning's treatment, prosecution, and sentencing have one purpose: to silence potential whistleblowers and the media as well. One of the main targets has been our clients, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, for publishing the leaks. Given the U.S. government’s treatment of Manning, Assange should be granted asylum in his home country of Australia and given the protections all journalists and publishers deserve.
We stand in solidarity with Bradley Manning and call for the government to take heed and end its assault on the First Amendment.
Amen to that last graf.

I'll update this post again when D.L. reacts.

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Update, Aug. 21: Well, the judge has reacted, or acted. Manning's going to serve 35 years. Given that the prosecution wanted 60, and other things, and the minimum, per sentencing guidelines, is 25 years, this isn't "that bad," all things speaking. Of course, let's wait and see, to make sure Dear Leader and the What-A-Gon don't put him in a military supermax with 23 hours a day of solitary.

That worry aside, the story says that with credit for time served, and good behavior while in the stir, he could get out on parole in less than seven years. Of course, this is assuming the next administration is any more tender-hearted about leaking about such issues than is Dear Leader's.

1 comment:

joshuaism said...

35 years is still too long. Spec William Colton Millay sold secrets and only got 16 years.

Are we to assume that contentiously motivated acts are worse than monetarily motivated acts? It would appear the military and government would like us to think so.