With the fourth week of the trial of first class private Bradley Manning over, it’s expected that the final, sentencing, period will commence shortly. Three years ago, Bradley Manning gave the public information on American military crimes in the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, including information on the deaths of journalists and civilians from drone strikes and other military measures. In addition, Manning also leaked a gigantic archive (about 250,000) of Department of State diplomatic cables, and event which was dubbed, Cablegate.
He was detained and subsequently spent almost three years in legal limbo, being denied his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to due process and a speedy trial, as well as being abused and degraded while in detainment.
Manning is a patriot in every sense of the word. He helped free the public from the tyranny created by the military’s secrecy on activities and crimes committed overseas. This information should have held those soldiers responsible, accountable, and prompted reforms in the system, with a thank-you letter addressed to Manning for revealing these abuses instead of letting them continue. Instead, just as the case has been with Edward Snowden, the public has turned against the man responsible for the leaks, rather than the contents of the leaks themselves.
It’s no surprise that Snowden is staying as far as possible from US authorities; the threat of a life sentence was considered to be too harsh even by The Guardian. Had he given in to authorities as many congressional leaders say that he should have, he would have found himself in a circumstance similar to Manning’s; ignored and shut out by the public, on trial for “aiding the enemy” instead of “aiding the public,” with a probable life sentence over his head.
A guilty conviction in this secretive tribunal would be a very damaging event to free speech and free press in the nation. It would return to an era before New York Times v. US, when government secrecy was stringently enforced.
It would lend the charge of aiding the enemy a broad jurisdiction that could be labeled on any journalist or civilian whose reporting could even potentially be used by enemy combatants. It would severally constrict investigative journalism of government and would create an atmosphere of fear for journalists rarely witnessed in the history of the nation.Published in