The government's arguments in its overzealous case against Army PFC Bradley Manning should be prompting massive outrage from journalists. From The Guardian:
The US government is seeking to bolster its case against Bradley Manning, the source of the largest leak of state secrets in American history, by presenting the soldier's trial with evidence that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida used the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks and the wider internet as a research and propaganda tool.This argument is so radically anti-First Amendment it's hard to know where to begin. If Bin Laden requested a copy of The New York Times or its sources, would the paper be guilty of aiding the enemy? What about if he requested a White House Press Release? The legal theory that Manning aided the enemy by making information publicly available reveals that the Obama administration's unprecedented war on whistleblowers has morphed into a war on information and a war on journalists, as is the natural progression of an unprecedented effort to chill whistleblowers' freedom of speech.
As the prosecution approaches the end of its case, government lawyers presented the trial judge, Colonel Denise Lind, with testimony and statements of fact that attempted to underline al-Qaida's familiarity with the web and WikiLeaks specifically. The effort speaks to the most serious "aiding the enemy" charge against Manning in which the prosecution must prove that by passing classified material to WikiLeaks the soldier knowingly gave potentially damaging intelligence to US enemies.
Prosecutors read into the trial record a statement already discussed in court, that reveals that the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden personally asked for WikiLeaks material to be provided to him.
An attack on the media is no longer hypothetical. The government admittedly draws no distinction between Wikileaks and the New York Times or any other publisher:
Colonel Lind, the judge, asked a prosecutor a hypothetical question: If Private Manning had given the documents to The New York Times rather than to WikiLeaks, would he face the same charges?In other Espionage Act cases, the Justice Department has argued that Fox News Reporter James Rosen is a co-conspirator to violating the Espionage Act simply by doing his job and has repeatedly tried to force New York Times reporter James Risen to testify against his source. In yet another "leak investigation," the Justice Department obtained phone records for Associated Press phone lines that impacted over 100 journalists.
“Yes, ma’am,” said the prosecutor, Capt. Angel Overgaard.
If the Obama administration's case against Bradley Manning was really about "aiding the enemy," as opposed to controlling information, then Manning would not be the government official subject to criminal prosecution. The government is biggest leaker of all, even anonymously leaking allegations that recent "leaks" about NSA domestic surveillance (which are really whistleblowing disclosures) have hurt national security. But, only government employees who reveal information the government wants to hide from the public are prosecuted under the Espionage Act or dubious charges like "aiding the enemy" by disclosure. The government's overzealous prosecution of Manning - even after he offered a plea that could land him 20 years in prison - is very clearly NOT intended to stop all "leaks" of information, rather its purpose is to stop whistleblowers from revealing information that the government does not want the public to know.