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Bradley Manning Offers Partial Guilty Plea To Military Court 380

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-you-had-it-coming dept.
concealment writes "During a pre-trial hearing in military court today, [alleged Wikileaks source Bradley] Manning's attorney, David Coombs, proposed a partial guilty plea covering a subset of the slew of criminal charges that the U.S. Army has lodged against him. "Manning is attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses," Coombs wrote on his blog this evening. "The court will consider whether this is a permissible plea.""
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Bradley Manning Offers Partial Guilty Plea To Military Court

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  • by santax (1541065) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @09:52AM (#41917739)
    him finally coming out how he started WO2 and the Spanish inquisition? By the way they have treated him I am sure he is ready to confess those too.
  • by ledow (319597) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:12AM (#41917897) Homepage

    http://xkcd.com/16/ [xkcd.com]

    (Although, to be honest, using that as humour to stop you posting 30-year-old Python quotes is almost beginning to suffer the same problem).

  • by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:13AM (#41917907)
    Allowing actions like this, even in the spirit of whistleblowing, would severely undermine the necessary order and discipline an effective military needs. It is certainly not the business of a private to determine what type of classified information should or should not be distributed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:16AM (#41917927)

    > You know, the ones who approved of the illegal activities by the military personal who Manning *PROPERLY* released information about?

    Releasing classified documents to an uncleared foreign national is NOT "properly released", it's illegal and punishable by imprisonment and in some cases death. The illegality of his actions and the resulting punishment were VERY well known to him, as it is to every single soldier that holds his clearance level. There were proper ways for him to handle himself, which he was retrained on every single year, but he made very specific decisions to break serious laws. He knew what he was getting into.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:19AM (#41917945)

    He alone is responsible for what happens to him.

    So he is also responsible for the cruel and inhumane treatment during his 900+ days incarceration. Also responsible for what people might call torture? And he is responsible for not getting the right to a speedy trial?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:22AM (#41917979)

    sez the good German...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:25AM (#41917999)

    On the other hand, corruption, incompetence and sheer lawlessness due to lack of oversight also severely undermine the necessary order and discipline an effective military needs. It is certainly not the business of the military to withhold information of that nature from their political masters.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:29AM (#41918037)

    *PROPERLY* released information about?

    Properly? Wow. He released EVERYTHING, not just data that pertained to alleged abuses. It's roughly analogous to an IRS employee leaking everyone's tax returns because he suspects his boss is cheating on his taxes.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:31AM (#41918063)

    We don't know what government does and a lot of it we'd rather not know.

    Speak for yourself.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:33AM (#41918085)

    I dare say you would have a different opinion if he'd exposed rapes or murders perpetrated by soldiers but covered up. Or war crimes.

    I'd say that the release of the cables played a significant part in initiating the Arab Spring. Even if it was a "straw that broke the camel's back" situation. Unless we want to condemn the popular uprisings against corrupt and/or authoritation regimes then we have to take this into account.

    If other crimes have been exposed by the cables then again that should be taken into account.

    If it's a private's business to refuse an illegal order then it's a private's business to expose illegal acts being covered up by the military. To argue otherwise is to argue that the military is above the law.

  • by cmdr_tofu (826352) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:34AM (#41918095) Homepage

    What if he was exposing great illegality (which he probably was)? Let's say for instance Manning found hard evidence that George Bush planned 9/11? That's an extreme example of course, but would you say his duty to step in line as a soldier outweighed his duties as a US citizen and a human being to expose these hypothetical extreme crimes? If you believe a private should be an unthinking robot and allow his superiors to bury evidence of crimes they are commiting, I believe that you are taking an unreasonable stance.

  • by liquidweaver (1988660) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:35AM (#41918101)

    What other feedback mechanism is in place to prevent secrecy being used to just cover up rather than protect legitimately secret documents?

    I'm of the opinion that if you give anyone the power to declare information secret if will be abused to some degree X. What can be done to keep X as small as possible while still protecting real secrets?

    I don't think there is a simple answer. While Bradley Manning's alleged actions are illegal and there should be punishment, the secrecy system has no practical safeguards right now - so in general I have a hard time saying that those actions had an overall negative effect for my country.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:38AM (#41918139)

    It is the business of every soldier to protect this nation from threats foreign and domestic. It is in the oath of enlistment.

    How would congress even know about this? Do you think they would report such actions? Do you think congress knows about the renditions being performed? Do they know what secret prisons are used for torture?

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:39AM (#41918159)

    It is certainly not the business of a private to determine what type of classified information should or should not be distributed.

    Not sure what the word is in the military, but no matter what they say, it is everyone's responsibility to follow their own morals regardless of what their orders are. If Manning felt that this was something the public must know, then it was absolutely his business to decide that, ethically speaking.

    Obviously that's not a valid reason to suspend his punishment, you're right that discipline must be upheld in the military. Just pointing out that discipline and personal morals have a balance that must be considered. If you don't want a private to leak information that he feels the public should be aware of, either don't give it to the private or don't do things he's likely to consider immoral.

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:46AM (#41918243)

    And congress failed in its duty.

    It is the business of a true patriot to expose the corruption within the system when the system fails to deal with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:50AM (#41918283)

    Allowing actions like this, even in the spirit of whistleblowing, would severely undermine the necessary order and discipline an effective military needs. It is certainly not the business of a private to determine what type of classified information should or should not be distributed.

    Actually it is. It used to be that the officers always had responsibility for the actions of his troops and because of this privates could just mindlessly follow orders. A few decades ago it was figured out that this system doesn't work and it allows for a lot of war crimes to happen.
    Becaue of this the geneva convetion specified that privates had a responsibility to ignore illegal orders and if possible stop their officers when they commited war crimes. This is what Manning has acted on.
    If the U.S. had followed the geneva convention it had been a non-issue, then Manning had been in the clear. Now we are in a situation where the U.S. will have to decide if they want their military to have accountability or not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:53AM (#41918317)

    "I was just following orders" Is not a valid defense for evil acts. Neither should be "it was top secret".

    captcha:embassy (ooo, creepy)

  • by pgdave (1774092) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:54AM (#41918329)

    I believe very strongly that Manning should be facing the death penalty simply to send a message to the military that if you do this and get caught, you may die for it.

    Ah, the smell of fascist blood lust in the morning...Don't like what someone did? Just kill them. It makes you feel manly.

  • by Afty0r (263037) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @11:08AM (#41918435) Homepage

    It is certainly not the business of a private to determine what type of classified information should or should not be distributed.

    A long time ago, it was expected that all military personnel should follow orders, rules and regulations, and that they would not be held accountable for their actions while doing so.

    Then, as a species, we grew up a little, and a number of events including Nuremberg helped us to realise that this was not a healthy attitude.

    Now, in 2012 many people still believe it is "right" to lie about and cover up the killing of innocent people. I hope, as a species, we will continue to grow and to understand that this is unacceptable. When it comes to the murder of non-military personnel, being part of such a cover-up should be regarded as an abuse of human rights (it is, after all, a conspiracy to hide a crime against humanity) and military personnel *should* have whistleblower rights, in a limited range of circumstances.

    Russ

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @11:12AM (#41918489)

    congress and the president already does not uphold their oath to uphold the constitution*, how can they be trusted? in an age where almost everything is classified, how is the public supposed to become informed of what their government does on their behalf?

    *imprisonment w/o trial or charges, extraordinary rendition, torture, warrent-less wiretapping, i can go on much farther with cases dating back decades.

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday November 08, 2012 @11:29AM (#41918729) Homepage Journal

    Having worked as a civilian employee of the US military right after graduating college I can assure everyone that there is no way Manning could have failed to realize his actions were at best illegal and at worse treasonous.

    Having been a member of the US armed forces (SSgt USAFRES) I can assure everyone that Manning may well have believed that he had a duty to disclose information he thought the military was illegally concealing from the public, and there are circumstances in which he'd have been absolutely right. Every member of the armed forces is taught that they have a duty to disobey illegal orders. However, I think his decision to give it to Wikileaks rather than to take it to some element of the government who would play a watchdog role (e.g. a congressman opposed to the war) does cast doubt on the purity of his intentions -- or at least on his judgment.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @11:30AM (#41918745) Journal

    I said it's not the business of a private to determine when and when not to disseminate classified information. If the generals and staff officers are withholding information, then it's congress's job to remove them from their post and punish them as is fit.

    It's not the business of a private. But when the generals and congress have both failed, we should be thankful that a mere private decided to put his life on the line and do the right thing.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @11:34AM (#41918781) Homepage

    I said it's not the business of a private to determine when and when not to disseminate classified information.

    If I'm not mistaken, it is the business of anyone in the military to refuse to follow illegal orders, report those orders to superior officers, and go around superior officers to report the misconduct to another authority (e.g. the Inspector General) if the superior officers refuse to do something about it. Not everything Manning released falls under this, but a lot of it was classified not because it would compromise national security (which is supposed to be the standard) but because it is embarrassing and/or incriminating to those who decided to classify it. Which means it was illegally classified. Which means that a private is not supposed to respect that classification.

    And yes, by this argument, there's probably huge amounts of material that are routinely illegally classified within the US military and intelligence agencies. A lot of the US military (particularly officers) firmly believe that the only reason the US lost in Vietnam is that the public got wind of what was going on over there and "stabbed them in the back". Their solution to this problem is attempting to hide almost everything US troops are doing from the US public, only sending back clips that make good PR, and helpfully guiding reporters around so they see only what they're supposed to see.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @11:41AM (#41918865) Homepage Journal

    You also swear you will obey the "orders of the officers appointed over me."

    Which comes after the oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution, and protect the nation from threats foreign and domestic. Contrary to popular belief, it is an ordered list.

    By the oaths he swore, Manning did the right thing here.

  • by mr.mctibbs (1546773) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @11:48AM (#41918941)
    If by "diplomatic consequences" you mean being forced to withdraw from Iraq, and starting riots in Egypt and Tunisia (Arab Spring happen that long ago we've already forgotten?), then yes it had some effect.

    If it weren't for Manning's revelations, we'd still have troops in Iraq, and the Arab Spring might have been a lot smaller than it turned out to be. If that isn't significant, I don't know what is.
  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @11:49AM (#41918951)

    We know how well that works for police. They never get away with crimes, ever.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @11:49AM (#41918957) Homepage Journal

    However, I think his decision to give it to Wikileaks rather than to take it to some element of the government who would play a watchdog role (e.g. a congressman opposed to the war) does cast doubt on the purity of his intentions -- or at least on his judgment.

    Considering the federal government's recent track record, I would counter that trusting any Congressperson to come forward and make the info public would be the real folly of judgement.

  • by moeinvt (851793) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @11:59AM (#41919059)

    If Manning leaked the data and WikiLeaks published it, there is a strong precedent for the actions of WikiLeaks to be protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of press freedom.

    IF however, the prosecution can "prove" that Julian Assange or whomever encouraged or participated in the leak, they could be prosecuted as an accessory.

    This is why the US government has been subjecting Manning to cruel and inhumane conditions for so long. I wonder if he has held fast, or if they have finally broken his resolve and coerced him into implicating WikiLeaks as being party to the theft?

  • by Americano (920576) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:25PM (#41919429)

    Sorry, his only options were "obey orders," or "leak millions of classified documents to Julian Assange"? That's a curiously short list of alternatives. How about... report it to the Inspector General (essentially, "internal affairs" for the military), or up his chain of command, and failing any action from any of them, end with:

    "Dear President Obama, Senators Pelosi, Reid, Speaker Boehner, and other honored Senators and Representatives of the Armed Services committee:

    My name is PFC Bradley Manning. I am a soldier attached to the 101st Some Unit as an intelligence analyst. In my role as an intel analyst, I see many classified documents, some of which have led me to conclude that a number of illegal actions are being taken by our military personnel during combat patrols and other operations in the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation. As you no doubt understand, I cannot provide copies of the documents in this letter, but I would offer some basic descriptions of scenarios I feel are in violation of law, and can provide you with document identifiers for you to request the documents yourselves, or would be happy to meet with you or your qualified representatives and review these documents at that time.

    Some example situations:
    On date X, location Y, Army personnel did Action Z which I believe violates our rules of engagement and may contravene Geneva Conventions.
    On date X, location Y, a joint Marine / Army patrol reported Action Z, which I believe to be illegal. ... List Continues...

    I have attempted to bring this issue to my chain of command in the following ways, and it has met with stonewalling and been ignored:
    -- Date X, letter to Officer Y, outlining same details.
    -- Date X, letter to Officer Y, outlining same details. ... List Continues ...

    Mr. President, Senators, Representatives - my oath requires me to uphold the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic - and I believe that some of these actions are against the law, and pose a grave threat to our Constitution. I am writing to you to expose these issues so that you can take appropriate action to correct a terrible wrong and end that threat.
    Sincerely,

    PFC Bradley Manning."

    You think a letter like that would be completely ignored, especially if he "accidentally leaked" a copy of it to a couple major news outlets, even Wikileaks? If they have Dates & locations, how hard is it for a couple journalists to start digging and saying, "whoa whoa whoa, we have some strong evidence that a bunch of Army soldiers kicked in the door, raped all the women, and then executed all the people in this house."

    He wasn't stuck with a binary option - steal & release millions of classified documents to make his point, or just shut up and go along with what he considered to be war crimes. Even if his *motiviation* was correct, his actions were not. There are ways to whistleblow which would make it impossible for the government to ignore the issue, without actually copying the entire database of classified materials and releasing it unedited to Wikileaks.

    Any argument that there were only 2 options available to him is completely false, and to suggest that he was right to disregard the numerous measured responses he could have pursued and go straight to the "nuclear" option is a little ridiculous.

  • by sarysa (1089739) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:40PM (#41919679)
    Says the rational American who realizes that the military may do a lot of really disgusting shit, so does every military. If we can't keep secrets, we will simply fail to be effective on the world stage. Bradley should have known going into this that he would be a martyr, and only history will tell if he ends up being a hero.

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