It seems like ages since accused Wikileaker PFC Bradley Manning first made headlines after his arrest in Iraq for allegedly leaking the largest cache of diplomatic cables in US history. That’s partly because it really has been ages – Manning has sat in jail for over 18 months without any word of an eventual trial, and has endured truly inhumane treatment at the hands of our government. Luckily, he will soon have his day in court.
Of the over 2 dozen charges leveled at Manning, “aiding the enemy” stands out as the most malicious of them all – mostly because it just doesn’t make any sense. If Manning did what they say he did, and leaked over 250,000 documents to Wikileaks, was the impact on our national security and foreign policy interests really so terrible that we believe it advanced the interests of our enemies?
Or was the leaked information already widely known, of low classification or out-dated, causing nothing more than embarrassment among our foreign policy elite and potentially igniting some much-needed pro-democracy movements along the way?
Some in-house damage assessments by Departments of State and Defense, as well as the White House itself — as outlined in the Defense’s Request for Production of Evidence — seem to believe the latter. If true, would throwing Manning in prison for life as a traitor who “aided the enemy” be a proportionate punishment for the crime?
Then there’s the question of who exactly are our enemies to whom Manning is alleged to have provided aid. The truth revealed in the released cables has been credited with helping to influence the start of the Arab Spring, which saw the popular overthrow of some of the most brutal regimes on the planet. Does our government really want to come to the defense of men like of Mubarak, Qadaffi and Ben Ali – and label those who risked and lost their lives for freedom and democracy as our ‘enemies?’
The “aiding the enemy” allegation is wildly unfounded, and we started a petition a while back demanding that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta drop that charge specifically. It’s vindictive and is the government’s way of producing a chilling affect on any potential whistleblowers who dare point out our government’s crimes by making an example out of Manning.
Manning’s Article 32 pre-trial hearing is scheduled to take place on December 16th. Our beloved Jon Walker will be covering the events from the courthouse. I hope you will join us in signing our petition to Secretary Panetta, and help support Jon’s coverage of the pre-trial hearing in a few weeks.