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The Courts Government United States

Bradley Manning Convicted of Espionage, Acquitted of 'Aiding the Enemy' 529

Posted by Soulskill
from the win-some-lose-some dept.
crashcy sends word that a verdict has been handed down in the case of Bradley Manning. Quoting: "A military judge on Tuesday found Pfc. Bradley Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy, but convicted him of multiple counts of violating the Espionage Act. Private Manning had already confessed to being WikiLeaks’ source for a huge cache of government documents, which included videos of airstrikes in which civilians were killed, hundreds of thousands of front-line incident reports from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, dossiers on men being held without trial at the Guantánamo Bay prison, and about 250,000 diplomatic cables. But while Private Manning had pleaded guilty to a lesser version of the charges he was facing, which could expose him to up to 20 years in prison, the government decided to press forward with a trial on a more serious version of the charges, including 'aiding the enemy' and violations of the Espionage Act. Beyond the fate of Private Manning as an individual, the 'aiding the enemy' charge — unprecedented in a leak case — could have significant long-term ramifications for investigative journalism in the Internet era."
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Bradley Manning Convicted of Espionage, Acquitted of 'Aiding the Enemy'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @01:17PM (#44426373)

    Aiding the enemy carries the death penalty, but they can't really murder Manning if they want Snowden extradited, can they?

  • Re:ramifications (Score:4, Interesting)

    by icebike (68054) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @01:36PM (#44426675)

    Beyond the fate of Private Manning as an individual, the 'aiding the enemy' charge — unprecedented in a leak case — could have significant long-term ramifications for investigative journalism in the Internet era.

    Since he was acquitted of the charge, isn't that particular kind of potential ramification now less dire? It doesn't prove that the government will never be able to overreach in that manner, but the fact that they couldn't get a conviction on that charge here, even in a military court and little dispute about the underlying facts of document release, suggests that it won't be that easy.

    Agreed, the summary was over-reaching.

    Its almost impossible to convict Journalists in this day and age of anything related to espionage.

    Still when this administration Taps Reporters phones [thegatewaypundit.com] and even taps Congressional Phones [washingtonsblog.com] we are pretty close to a police state where you dare not even complain to your Congressman any more.

    They don't go after the congressmen or the journalist, just the people they talk to. (Or so they say).

  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @01:43PM (#44426779)

    Snowden also leaked valid foreign espionage to the targets of that espionage. Both did good things and both of them did bad things. The only question is did the good outweigh the bad.

  • Ironic..... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by houbou (1097327) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @01:47PM (#44426817) Journal
    I remember a movie with Keanu Reeves where he was transporting data using his brain "Johnny Mnemonic".. something about government/big pharma not wanting certain 'cure' information to be leaked and in the end, it was the underground hackers who risked their lives getting the info to all citizens. Seems to me like we are heading up that way... Ironic that certain movies from the 80s and 90s were able to predict scenarios such as theses.
  • by asylumx (881307) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @01:55PM (#44426889)

    Both did good things and both of them did bad things. The only question is did the good outweigh the bad.

    Actually, that's not the question. The question is answered in the first of these two sentences. It is "Did they do bad things?" and the answer is "yes." Regardless of whether those were a means to a good end, the bad things they did are punishable and should be punished.

  • by C0R1D4N (970153) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @01:58PM (#44426955)
    " But when you agree to join the military and have a security clearance you make promises to protect that information. With your life, if necessary. He not only went against that promise, he blatantly gave away that information!"

    " I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

    What happens when the first half is at odds with the second?
  • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @02:02PM (#44427009)

    ...for the crimes that he's convicted of.

    When leaks like this one happen, a lot of attention and effort is spent on punishing the leaker, but we seldom hear about punishment for those that should have protected the data. Why did Manning not only have access to this sensitive data, but was able to download it and walk it out of the office?

    In my company, the receptionist isn't supposed to tell anyone what's in our sensitive financial documents and really has no reason to read them. So he can't - his login doesn't have access to those files and if he persists in trying to get access, his username will come up in IPS alerts.

    While I suppose it's publicly comforting to go after the leakers once they are caught, what about the spies that steal the data and hand it over quietly to their keepers? If the data is so easy to access that an Army Private can walk in and download thousands of documents, does anyone really think that spies from other nations aren't doing the same thing? The Army should thank Manning for exposing their security flaws.

    The same applies to Snowden - he shouldn't have been able to download thousands of pages of classified documents and walk out with them unnoticed.

    So who's getting fired over lax security?

  • Convicted of violation of the Espionage Act? Ah, well then we should revise said act to retroactively apply exemption to actions which do not aide the enemy. For, if they do not aide the enemy, then they aide the ally or no one. Surely we can't be throwing people in jail for helping us?

  • by BringYourOwnBacon (2808547) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @03:00PM (#44427745)
    It seems tragic that the only way to expose the overstepping of the government on human rights is to have lone leakers throw themselves under the bus and expose information, often haphazardly, to the world. There should be a system in place where government employees can appeal anything they consider unconstitutional to a special court for review. It is up to the judicial branch to uphold the constitution and seems utterly ridiculous that these secret overreaches by the executive branch are not eligible to the same checks and balances put in place for public laws.

    I want to see publicly nominated and vetted judges sitting on a board to review classified procedures and actions for their constitutionality. The proceedings can be secret, but the number of cases overturned and left standing should be made public. It may be a pipe dream, but I think this would go a long way to restoring the people's trust in their government by restoring the accountability that was supposed to be there in the first place.
  • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @03:44PM (#44428227)

    >Both Snowden and Manning took oaths with a clear understanding that they would be severely penalized if they violated that trust.

    If the government is relying on an *oath* to protect my data, then I'm even more outraged that they have so much of my data.

    Outside of a court, an oath means nothing - it's as valuable as a double-super pinky swear. The government wants me to believe that terrorists are out to kill me even if it means killing themselves, but at the same time, I'm supposed to believe that an oath is going to protect my data as well as national secrets because no evildoer would swear on god that they won't do something bad?

    Data security is not cheap (in implementation costs or labor), but if we're supposed to believe that having this data out in the wild could be compromising our national security, isn't it worth securing the data? Fort Knox doesn't leave piles of gold around the complex and just rely on staff to promise not to take it - they have serious security protocols that limit access to the gold and don't let any single person in a position where they could steal it, even if it makes working there less efficient.

    It's unfortunate they didn't use a more legitimate whistle-blowing channel - they've thrown away their lives.

    When those that are collecting the data are willing to outright lie about it to congress, and even those in congress that knew about the data collection are still defending it, what is the legitimate whistle-blowing channel that will let the public know what's going on?

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @04:25PM (#44428681) Journal

    Your question is only valid if you honestly believe that Manning read and determined ALL of the 250,000+ documents he released to be proof of a Constitutional violation of some sort. His mass dump of documents shows his motive was less about any duty to the Constitution than it was a blatant FU to the Military & Government that entrusted him with his clearance.

    You could just as easily argue that his mass dump of the documents shows that his motive was to do his duty to the constitution:

    • Had he gone through those 250,000 documents before releasing anything, assuming he could spend three hours per day doing it, even at one document per minute, it would have taken him almost four years. After such a long period of time, the information would no longer be timely, and many crimes would have been much harder to investigate.
    • Had he released those documents one at a time as he found the incriminating ones, he would have been stopped after the first one. None of the other abuses would have been revealed at all.

    Therefore, short of finding a few thousand other people in the military who were all willing to similarly stick their necks out, the only way he could fulfill his perceived duty to reveal those abuses was to mass release the documents to a neutral third party (the press) with adequate resources (people and time) to review them in a timely manner.

    Based on that, I would argue that the only questions that can reasonably be asked are whether he had a duty to tell the world about these abuses, and whether that duty trumped his duty to keep military secrets. All other questions are meaningless.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @04:26PM (#44428697)

    Manning probably conspired with Assange to get the information to Wikileaks. Wikileaks made the information available to anyone that wanted it, including the Taliban and al Qaida. The Taliban and al Qaida are the enemy, not the US public and international press. The Taliban stated that they were using the information to hunt down informants. That is where the charge of "aiding the enemy" came from.

    That is a more useful explanation than your troll.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @04:34PM (#44428789)

    "THE LAW OF THE LAND declares that some people are only 3/5ths of a person. And women need not apply... Its a shitty document in places. We've done our best to patch it up in places, but it could really use more amending. However that's a long and time consuming process. In the event that time is of the essence, and following it would violate your own moral code to follow the law, you violate the law."

    While I don't disagree with you absolutely, I think you are taking THIS out of context.

    The "3/5 of a person" bit was only a bow to the reality of their time. If the founders had tried to abolish slavery via the Constitution, it would never have been ratified. It might never even have gotten off the floor.

    On the other hand, they deserve credit for wording the rest of it such that it did, in fact, support equality across the board. This left open ground for equality when society grew up a little bit.

    Keep in mind that even Jefferson, who owned slaves (he inherited them), strongly disliked and spoke against the institution of slavery, but felt that it would be economic disaster to try to abolish the already-existing slavery all at once. He supported a law to ban the importation of any more slaves, and he did attempt to outlaw slavery in all the new Western territories (i.e., everything West of the existing 13 States). He authored that bill. But it was voted down by one vote. Jefferson said:

    "Thus we see the fate of millions unborn hanging on the tongue of one man, and Heaven was silent in that awful moment!"

    and

    "We must await with patience the workings of an overruling Providence, and hope that He is preparing the deliverance of these, our suffering brethren. When the measure of their tears shall be full, when their groans shall have involved heaven itself in darkness, doubtless a God of justice will awaken to their distress..."

    In the Declaration of Independence, he also lambasted King George for supporting the slave trade. So there were attempts to change things, even then. I think blaming the founders for trying to do the best they could, given the realities of their time, is a bit unrealistic.

    Which is why I say: no, it's not a 'shitty' document. It has lasted longer than any other Constitution in anything approaching modern history. It may have some flaws, but it's a damned good document.

  • by QRDeNameland (873957) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @04:56PM (#44428981)

    Are you sure you understand what Rule of Law [wikipedia.org] means? It is basically the concept that, in the words of John Adams, of being "a government of laws and not of men." In other words, that no one is above the law, and that is indeed a moral principle and not authoritarian.

    I suspect you are reading the term as if it were synonymous with "Law and Order", which is indeed a battle cry of the authoritarian.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @05:08PM (#44429081)

    Apparently it is now (has always been?) in vogue to criticize America for things that never actually happened. If you took time to actually understand the issue, the "collateral murder" video doesnt show any children being killed. The (2?) injured children were transferred to a US military hospital for a day before being released to an Iraqi hospital.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_12,_2007_Baghdad_airstrike [wikipedia.org]

    Now go forth, and try to keep the uninformed BS to a minimum.

If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts. -- Albert Einstein

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