BREAKING: Bradley Manning found not guilty of aiding the enemy

by on July 30, 2013 · 5 comments

in American Empire, Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, History, Media, Military, World News

 Bradley ManningBy Julie Tate / Washington Post

An Army judge on Tuesday acquitted Pfc. Bradley Manning of aiding the enemy by disclosing a trove of secret U.S. government documents, a striking rebuke to military prosecutors who argued that the largest leak in U.S. history had assisted al-Qaeda.

The judge, Col. Denise Lind, found Manning guilty of most of the more than 20 crimes he was charged with. She also acquitted him of one count of the espionage act that stemmed from his leak of a video that depicted a fatal U.S. military airstrike in Farah, Afghanistan.

Bradley Manning arrived at court to hear the verdict in his military espionage and aiding the enemy trial at Fort Meade Tuesday. Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy.

Bradley Manning arrived at court to hear the verdict in his military espionage and aiding the enemy trial at Fort Meade Tuesday. Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy.

The eight-week trial offered a gripping account of Manning’s transformation from a shy soldier who deployed to Baghdad as an intelligence analyst in 2009 to a mole for the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which disclosed more than 700,000 documents Manning gathered.

Had Manning been convicted of aiding the enemy, Manning would have faced a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole. Civil libertarians saw the prospect of a conviction on that charge, which has not been used since the Civil War, as a dangerous precedent that could have would have sent an unmistakable message to would-be government whistle-blowers.

“The heart of this matter is the level of culpability,” said retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, a former chief prosecutor at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He noted that Manning has already pled guilty to some charges and admitted leaking secret documents that he felt exposed wartime misdeeds. “Beyond that is government overreach.”

If found guilty of all charges, including aiding the enemy, Manning would face a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The planned announcement of the verdict follows an eight-week trial at Fort Meade in Maryland, where military prosecutors argued that Manning, 25, betrayed his oath and his country, and assisted al-Qaeda because the terrorist group was able to access secret material once WikiLeaks posted it.

Hours before the verdict, about two dozen Manning supporters demonstrated outside Fort Meade wearing “truth” T-shirts and waving signs proclaiming their admiration for the former intelligence analyst, the Associated Press reported.

“He wasn’t trying to aid the enemy,” said Barbara Bridges, 43, of Baltimore. “He was trying to give people the information they need so they can hold their government accountable.”

As dozens of journalists were admitted to the installation amid tight security, dogs trained to sniff out explosives searched their vehicles before they were escorted to a media room where the court proceedings were to be broadcast live on a screen.

The government’s pursuit of the charge of aiding the enemy under a theory that had not been used since the Civil War troubled civil libertarians and press-freedom advocates. They said the publication of secret defense information online could expose any leaker to life in prison and will chill press scrutiny of the military.

The government relied on a case from the Civil War to bring the charge: In that trial, a Union Army private, Henry Vanderwater, was found guilty of aiding the enemy when he leaked a Union roster to an Alexandria newspaper. Vanderwater received a sentence of three months hard labor and was dishonorably discharged.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Goatskull July 30, 2013 at 2:24 pm

He was still found guilty of 19 other charges so he’s not exactly going to walk any time soon. Still beats life without parole.

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avatar mjt July 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm

“Obama the timid ” should pardon this guy.

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avatar Saorla July 30, 2013 at 11:21 pm

These guys should be getting medals instead of being tried, locked away, compelled to seek asylum in a country more receptive to their actions – which, as I see it – took a great deal of courage and selflessness. Granted, they became famous for their actions, but they have also willingly relenquished any hope of “normalcy” for the rest of their lives to give information to the people to which the people should have had access anyway. Granted, some of that information or rather the actions behind the existence of that information should have never been taken.

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avatar Goatskull July 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm

As I have explained before when Manning’s issue comes up in the Rag, if information is deemed top secret then revealing it to any unauthorized source is in and of itself a crime. It makes no difference if the information is documentation of war crimes being committed by U.S. military personnel or not. None what so ever. In Manning’s case, his MOS (military occupational specialty) is an intelligence specialist so he us under especially strict rules about revealing any kind of classified info to any entity deemed not authorized to receive it. If the solders in the now infamous film clip of them shooting and killing civilians were to face court martial (not likely going to happen) and found guilty and punished it would still have no effect on Manning’s outcome. That’s how the military works in these types of situations. Right or wrong there is no whistle blower protection and never has been. I’m not saying that what Manning did isn’t noble but it’s one of those situations where you can say doing the right and noble think comes with a very heavy price tag and the person must be willing to pay.
Personally I think we can only speculate on what motivated him to do this. Did he truly want to show the world the wrongdoings he witnessed or did you have some other reason on his plate like possibly a personal vendetta against other members of his unit? We’ll probably never know.

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avatar Goatskull July 31, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I work on a military base as a civilian employee and not surprisingly I hear a lot of military folks who are livid about Bradley Manning (though surprisingly just as many support him) and would like to see a bullet through his head and have a very deep and emotional hatred of anyone who disagrees with them. Always makes for an interesting day to say the least.

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