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The U.S. government have charged Bradley Manning with "Aiding the Enemy".  A charge that is punishable by death. But in what could be an attempt to soften possible public outcry, the prosecutor have notified the defense that they won't be seeking the death penalty. Slashdot quoted the charges being laid against Bradley Manning as:

...the Uniform Code of Military Justice, include wrongfully causing  intelligence to be published on the Internet, knowing that it will be  accessed by the enemy, that US officials have asserted could put  soldiers and civilians at risk.

Note the bolded phrase "knowing...". Based on alleged chat log of Bradley Manning, there is no indication that he intended to help any enemy. He allegedly leaked a video that shows civilians being shot. Al Jazeera provided the whole video with commentary from Julian Assange and a military analyst. Here's a quick recap of the video's content. Warning: Some might find the event disturbing. The early part of the video shows Reuters reporter with a camera getting shot. The pilot thought that the camera was an RPG. There was a wounded person getting up with no weapon on hand. The pilot could be heard encouraging the wounded person to just pick up a weapon, seemingly eager to shoot at the person. Later part of the video shows the wounded being moved into a van. And the pilot eagerly asking to engage. The van turns out to have children in them. After being informed by the ground troops that childrens were shot, the pilot seems unrepentant and said that's what you get for bringing children to the battle. Next day, the same helicopter saw an armed person going into a building. They then asked for permission to engage. The video also shows a civilian going into the building, and a pedestrian walking by. But they went ahead and blew up the building and most likely the pedestrian passing by.

Some might argue that the pilot needs to be given the benefit of the doubt, considering the tense situation they were in. However, the video does highlight a lax rule of engagement. There does not seem to be consideration for civilian casualty in an urban area.

There is still another video from Afghanistan supposedly showing civilian casualties. Wikileaks have not released that video yet. It took Wikileaks three months to decrypt the Iraq video, which the chat log said was never really encrypted. But the Afghanistan video was encrypted with AES-256 and a 14 characters password. It is said to show awful scene, albeit not as damning as the Iraq's video.

There were no indication that Bradley Manning wanted to aid the Taliban or Al Qaeda. Instead, the chat log that is being attributed to Bradley shows a pained man whose conscience is giving him grief. The person in the chat expressed his intent as:

>...well, it was forwarded to WL
>and god knows what happens now
>hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms
>if not… than we’re doomed
>as a species
>i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens
>the reaction to the video gave me immense hope… CNN’s iReport was overwhelmed… Twitter exploded…
>people who saw, knew there was something wrong
>i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because  without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public

And on how he became disillusioned: When he saw Iraqi political critics of their Prime Minister being arrested. He was excited to report his findings to a U.S. officer that the detainees were innocent. But the officer asked him to shut up and find ways to help Iraqi police find more detainees.
i had always questioned the things worked, and investigated to find the  truth… but that was a point where i was a part of something… i was  actively involved in something that i was completely against…

When Lamo, the hacker, says he is a spy. He responded:
i couldn’t be a spy…spies dont post things up for the world to see

Wired magazine published the original log attributing it to Bradley Manning.  The hacker that Bradley Manning confide in had worked with Wired magazine before.

It is not clear what enemy Bradley was allegedly aiding. But some people have speculated that U.S. might be planning to label Wikileaks' Julian Assange as an Enemy. This will clearly be against the intent of a law meant to punish spies.

David House, a researcher at MIT is comparing Obama's administration treatment of Bradley Manning to Nixon's treatment of Daniel Ellsberg. According to House:

the "aiding the enemy" charge was similar to Richard  Nixon's heavy-handed treatment of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the  Pentagon Papers. Nixon called Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in  America" and said he was "providing aid and comfort to the enemy".

"Today  we see the Obama administration continuing the legacy Nixon started by  declaring whistleblowers as enemies of the state. It is a sad and  dangerous day for transparency advocates everywhere," House said.


Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers back in 1971. It revealed government's cover-up in the Vietnam war. It is now considered as the leak that stopped the Vietnam war. The leak also lead Nixon to create the covert White House Unit called the "Plumbers". They did various break-ins to find Ellsberg files, including Ellsberg's Psychiatrist office. Nixon was trying to find something he could use to destroy Ellsberg. The "Plumber" went on to commit other crimes including the infamous Watergate break-in that ended Nixon's presidency.

The Obama's administration all out campaign against Wikileaks and Bradley Manning is evoking memory of Nixon's desperate attempt to stop Ellsberg's leak back then. At the height of the leak, Nixon was quoted as saying:

“We’ve got a countergovernment here and we’ve got to fight it. I don’t  give a damn how it’s done. Do whatever has to be done to stop those  leaks.… I don’t want to be told why it can’t be done.”

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wired has refused to release the chat logs. (7+ / 0-)

    They have provided snippets from the supposed chats between Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo. First they claimed everything of relevance had been released, with only personal details and potentially sensitive info (theoretically later to be assessed by Wired) remaining concealed. That was shown to be a lie when they continued to release snippets of the chat logs and when the Washington Post released further details.

    Thus, it's fair to say we really don't know whether or not Bradley Manning did any of this. Adrian Lamo is well known for engaging in self-serving stunts. His friend Kevin Poulsen - convicted of felony hacking, now writing at Wired - is well known for acting as Mr Lamo's press flack by writing articles about his exploits regardless their newsworthiness.

    So really all we have to go on is Adrian Lamo - who was having Wired-documented mental difficulties just weeks before Manning's arrest.

  •  How could he not know? (0+ / 0-)
    Note the bolded phrase "knowing...". Based on alleged chat log of Bradley Manning, there is no indication that he intended to help any enemy.

    Releasing something to a public site necessarily entails that it will be made available to all, including enemies.  The scienter requirement (ie, the knowledge requirement) is easily satisfied.  The only problematic part of the indictment is that the materials released could be used by enemies to harm us.  It was certainly a PR black eye, but it's not at all clear that that's enough to support the charges.
  •  ...except that Ellsberg was a civilian. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345

    Manning is being tried under the UCMJ, something Ellsberg was never subject to.

    I don't approve of Manning's treatment while in custody, and I don't approve of the death penalty under any circumstances, but trying him for releasing classified information that he knew was going to be made public is absolutely appropriate.

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345
    There were no indication that Bradley Manning wanted to aid the Taliban or Al Qaeda.

    Actually, this is pretty good indication of an intent to harm US interests:
    that was a point where i was a part of something… i was  actively involved in something that i was completely against…
    •  US forces harming US interests (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chimene, Whimsical Rapscallion

      As a  citizen, I believe that members of our armed forces, or those at the top of our government, harm our country when they kill civilians and cover it up as a matter of routine. This is counterproductive and a terrible policy.

      Acting to stop the killing of civilians, actions which will truly harm the interests of this country, was Manning's patriotic duty.

  •  The "enemy" goes unnamed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, Enzo Valenzetti

    Has Congress declared war?  

    Perhaps the most important enemy, the one the truth must be hidden from at all costs so as not to embarrass our military brass and political elite, is the American public.

  •  For another look at the charge (0+ / 0-)

    Take a look at this article.

    The military’s argument thus appears to be this: (1) Manning stole intelligence from the U.S. and gave it to WikiLeaks; (2) WikiLeaks published that intelligence on the internet; (3) the “enemy” accessed or had access to that intelligence, completing the crime of aiding the enemy.

    The problem for the military, it seems to me, is that this argument may not satisfy the definition of “indirectly” aiding the enemy.  The UCMJ subdivides 104(2) into two separate offences, “giving intelligence to the enemy” and “communicating with the enemy.”  Here is the first offence, according to the Manual for Courts Martial:

          Giving intelligence to the enemy is a particular case of corresponding with the enemy made more serious by the fact that the communication contains intelligence that may be useful to the enemy for any of the many reasons that make information valuable to belligerents.  This intelligence may be conveyed by direct or indirect means.

    This offence can be committed indirectly, but it clearly contemplates a situation in which the enemy actually received the intelligence, either by directly receiving it from the defendant or by indirectly receiving it through the defendant’s intermediary.  Hence the following sample specification in the Manual for Courts Martial:

          In that _ (personal jurisdiction data), did, (at/on board — location), on or about _ 20 _ , without proper authority, knowingly give intelligence to the enemy, by (informing a patrol of the enemy’s forces of the whereabouts of a military patrol of the United States forces) (_).

    It is possible that Manning is guilty of this offence, assuming that the military can prove an enemy of the United States did, in fact, access the information released on the internet; again, indirect conveyance is sufficient and the intent to aid is not required.  But that might be difficult to prove; does the U.S. government have access to WikiLeaks’ incoming IP addresses?

    Reality has a liberal bias.

    by Hayate Yagami on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 09:31:36 AM PST

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