Prosecutors Near the End of Their Case Against Bradley Manning

Credit: US ArmyCredit: US Army

FORT MEADE, Md. - After parking and having the car I was using sniffed by a dog I and fewer than twenty other journalists drove with an escort to a small hall near the courtroom where Pfc. Bradley Manning's trial was being live-streamed. The auditorium where journalists were assembled was mostly empty by the time all of us had taken our seats and were being briefed. 

The government continued its case against Manning, who is accused of leaking classified information to the website Wikileaks. Manning is charged with violations of Articles 92, 104, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Manning has admitted to providing military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks. If found guilty of violating Article 104 (aiding the enemy) Manning could spend the rest of his life in prison. If Manning is convicted of aiding the enemy it will be the first time that someone has been convicted of aiding the enemy for leaking to the press since the case of Pvt. Henry Vanderwater, a Union soldier who was found guilty of aiding the enemy during the Civil War after sending a command roster to a newspaper in Alexandria, Va. Vanderwater was sentenced to three months hard labor. As the Associated Press has reported, the prosecution has cited Vanderwater's case at the Manning trial.  

The prosecution is hoping to show that Manning’s revelations aided Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and a “classified enemy,” a term that three military law professors said they had never heard of being used in a case. As Courthouse News reported, a military spokeswoman clarified the use of the term, saying that who the enemy is is not classified, but the method used by the U.S. government to establish that classified information has been used by the unnamed enemy is classified. Today, the prosecution presented expected testimony from Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, Adjunct Military Professor and Chair of Islamic Studies at the National Defense University. Aboul-Enein's testimony outlined the history of Al Qaeda and its use of the Internet, as well as its decentralized structure. The government also presented to the court a stipulation of fact (a set of facts agreed upon by prosecution and defense) relating to a propaganda video featuring Adam Gadahn, an American member of Al Qaeda, in which data sent by Manning to Wikileaks is mentioned. The Gadhan stipulation also included information relating to a winter 2010 issue of Inspire, a magazine published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in which readers were told that information helpful to the Mujahideen found in Wikileaks documents is worth archiving and sharing.  

After a lunch recess Maj. Ashden Fein, representing the government, sought to qualify Daniel Lewis from the Defense Intelligence Agency as a counterterrorism expert before going into a closed session. Mr. Lewis was cross examined by Maj. Thomas Hurley, a member of Manning's defense team, who pointed out that Mr. Lewis does not consider himself an expert in the monetary value of classified information. Mr. Lewis is the last witness the prosecution plans to call. 

Since being arrested Manning has spent some time being kept in conditions that many believe constitute torture, having been given Prevention of Injury (POI) status during his detention at the Marine Corps Brig, Quantico, Virginia, which meant he was effectively in solitary confinement and had to endure sleep deprivation as well as strip searches. After his detention in Quantico, Manning enjoyed better conditions once he was moved to the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in April 2011. Manning has been held in military custody in the U.S. since the summer of 2010. His trial started early last month. 

Read more from Reason.com on Bradley Manning trial here

Shortly before Manning's trial began Reason TV covered a pro-Manning demonstration at Fort Meade, Md. Watch the video below:

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  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I am one of those people who is pulling for Snowden and not rooting for Manning. I don't think Manning's treatment is right, exactly, but I have little synmpathy for him.

  • David Emami||

    Snowden is a civilian. Manning is (or was) a member of the military, so the UCMJ applies to him, specifically Article 104, Aiding the Enemy. Specifically:

    "Any person who -- ... (2) without proper authority, knowingly harbors or protects or gives intelligence to, or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly; shall suffer death or such other punishment as a court-martial or military commission may direct."

    He agreed to be subject to this when he signed up. Hang him.

    And before someone rises to defend him, note that this is a matter of abuse of power by a government employee. Julian Assange had the right to do whatever he liked with information he received. Manning received it under explicit restrictions and broke his oath. He is no more defensible on libertarian grounds than a DMV clerk who goes trolling for private information in the vehicle registration database. He was entrusted with access to information that was not his to do with as he wished, and he abused that trust.

  • ||

    You can not root for Manning and think hanging him is not a proportional punishment.

  • Nazdrakke||

    Hang him

    For the Children!!

  • crazyfingers||

    Please kill yourself. Thanks.

  • David Emami||

    Same to you. You're the one who apparently sympathizes with government employees violating restrictions placed on them by their employers, i.e., us.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    And what about restrictions placed on their employers by the constitution? How about the Nuremburg trials?

    If Manning had disclosed evidence that generals were ordering the bayoneting of pregnant mothers while their husbands watched as a means of demoralizing Al Qaeda, would Manning also be guilty?

    FYTW.

  • David Emami||

    If that was the only data Manning had disclosed, he would not have been "aiding the enemy" under Article 104. But he also leaked information that would so qualify.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    The hell that wouldn't aid the enemy. It's hard to imagine a better recruiting tool than showing the US planned all that crap.

  • David Emami||

    As far as the aiding via information goes, I'm not sure if the law applies to morale-related information, or only to the "these are the names of our agents" sort of information that was among what Manning released.

  • Agammamon||

    Actually if Manning only released information proving war crimes committed by the US then he certainly *could* be charged with aiding the enemy - anything that makes us look bad and harms the resolve of the citizenry can be considered "aiding the enemy"

    That's why he's on trial right now - pretty much all of the shit he released is normal but embarrassing conduct since we like to pretend that our guys don't enjoy the more horrible aspects of war (when they're happening to someone else).

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "That's why he's on trial right now - pretty much all of the shit he released is normal but embarrassing conduct since we like to pretend that our guys don't enjoy the more horrible aspects of war (when they're happening to someone else)."

    Except that's just not true. Manning's data dump included just the sort of information David Emami cites.

  • Loki||

    You're the one who apparently sympathizes with government employees violating restrictions placed on them by their employers

    So I take it you think Edward Snowden should also be hanged?

    FWIW, I'm also one of those who believe there's a huge a difference between what Snowden did and what Manning did. And not just because Snowden is a civilian. You seemed to imply that you also draw a distinction between them, but this statement would seem to imply that you'd also be perfectly fine with Snowden being executed as well. After all he also violated restrictions placed on him by his employer. So which is it? Is Snowden a traitor deserving of the death penalty in your eyes or not? You're kind of all over place, not unlike most of our other trolls.

  • David Emami||

    So I take it you think Edward Snowden should also be hanged?

    No, because he's a civilian, and not subject to the UCMJ. He should be subject to whatever penalties his employment agreement sets out for what he did.

  • yonemoto||

    we are all government employees. Are you using FRN? Then you are complicit.

  • Agammamon||

    I know I do - look, the US military explicitly tells its personnel that they are responsible for their actions, that the US will not provide any legal cover for someone who violates legal or moral codes of conduct while under orders - that each individual soldier is a moral agent.

    Well that sword cuts both ways - meaning that a soldier has to evaluate his orders with this in mind and is *required* to counter illegal or immoral orders.

    That's half of what this trial is about - was Manning *justified* in releasing this info.

  • Redmanfms||

    That's half of what this trial is about - was Manning *justified* in releasing this info.

    Based on what I've seen of the information he released, nope.

    The most damning thing the WikiLeaks people could drum up out of the stuff Manning provided them was an Apache attack that had to be dishonestly edited to portray what they claimed it did.

  • Les||

    This is the attitude of an authoritarian statist. Of course, revealing illegal behavior by the state is a crime. And the state appreciates your support.

  • David Emami||

    This is the attitude of an authoritarian statist.

    No, yours is apparently the opinion that contracts are not binding.

    And the state appreciates your support.

    And the folks at the IRS who were recently revealed to have used their power to selectively audit people they disagree with appreciate your support of the idea that government employees need not abide by the restrictions placed on their use of government power, property, or information.

  • yonemoto||

    why should the state interfere with contracts? We should have a 100% voluntary, competing systems of private contract registries. If you break your contract, then someone reports you, and nobody will want to deal with you. If the contract reporting system doesn't allow for an appeals process, it will be flooded with malicious asshats and nobody will trust it for being anything but troll city.

  • David Emami||

    why should the state interfere with contracts?

    Whether you have state-enforced laws or a strictly reputation-based system is an interesting minarchism vs. anarchocapitalism question, and I lean towards the latter myself, but this isn't a case of the state injecting itself into a contract between two parties. In this case, the state is one party in the contract. The same situation would apply if we had anarchocapitalism and Manning were a Blackwater employee (assuming the same contract and actions on his part).

    1. Manning, a sane, sober adult, willingly signed a contract that said, among other things, "If I do X, you, my employer, may kill me."

    2. Manning did X.

    3. His employer may kill him. And as one of the people to whom his employer at least theoretically answers, I want him dealt with as harshly as his contract allows, because too many of his coworkers are violating their contracts as well.

  • ||

    If his employers broke the law, then no the agreements on him aren't binding. And no he shouldn't be killed. Fuck you authoritarian dickwad.

  • David Emami||

    If I (for example) work for a software company that later violates the law, the "don't disclose company secrets" clauses I signed remain quite valid, and any penalties in my contract still apply if I take their source code and post it on the net.

    Fuck *you*, power-abusing-government-employee-sympathizing asshole.

  • Mesoman||

    Snowden conspired with at least on foreigner (US hating Guardian reporter), and then by his own account joined a consulting company with the express purpose of revealing classified information. He then traveled to the territory of two hostile powers (China and Russia) with his trove of secrets, revealing drips and drabs.

    Snowden ALSO signed a contract not to reveal the information, and was made aware of the high criminal penalties for violating that conflict. Anyone who has handled classified information knows that.

    Snowden is thus a traitor and a violator of contract (for those libertarians incapable of recognize mere treachery). The US should do all in its power to capture him and stick him in super-max for the rest of his life.

  • Agammamon||

    Uh, libertarians generally don't think that contract violations are reason enough to stick someone in prison for the rest of their life.

    If it were just a contract violation then this would just end up in a civil court for adjudication (assuming that the parties involved didn't settle for arbitration to settle their contract dispute).

  • David Emami||

    That's assuming that the contract doesn't include a specified penalty for violating it.

  • Scipio Africanus||

    Snowden conspired with at least on [sic] foreigner (US hating Guardian reporter)

    Glenn Greenwald is a U.S. citizen, albeit an expat.

    He then traveled to the territory of two hostile powers (China and Russia) with his trove of secrets, revealing drips and drabs.

    As far as we know, no information has been released to those governments apart from what has been released to the world at large.

    Snowden ALSO signed a contract not to reveal the information, and was made aware of the high criminal penalties for violating that conflict. Anyone who has handled classified information knows that.

    He was also undoubtedly briefed on appropriate uses of classification, and the concept that information should be classified at the minimum level necessary.

    Snowden is thus a traitor and a violator of contract (for those libertarians incapable of recognize mere treachery).

    "Treachery" is not a crime against life, liberty, or property. And breach of contract is a tort, not a crime.

    The US should do all in its power to capture him and stick him in super-max for the rest of his life.

    We could nuke the cities of every nation he stays in until one of them capitulates, but just because it is within our power to do so does not mean it is in the least bit an appropriate thing to do.

  • David Emami||

    "Snowden is thus a traitor and a violator of contract (for those libertarians incapable of recognize mere treachery)."

    "Treachery" is not a crime against life, liberty, or property.

    I'd call it a form of fraud in some cases, otherwise just a matter of reputation. Depends on a jury's "reasonable person" view.

    And breach of contract is a tort, not a crime.

    You are confusing the law against breach of contract with penalties stipulated within the contract itself. It's simply a statement that "if X happens, then Y will happen", such as when your contract with your bank says "if you bounce a check, we'll charge you a fee." That said, I don't know what penalties Snowden's contract specified. I presume he's forfeited his retirement benefits and so forth, but that's hardly a surprise.

    BTW, can Reason.com's comment software start recognizing (quote) tags sometime soon?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I'll add the relatively obvious point that Snowden appears to have taken a great deal of care to redact the information to ensure that nothing jeopardizing U.S. intelligence assets was divulged. Manning did a straight data dump and the only redacting was done by Assange.

  • ||

    I'm torn on the Manning case. I don't like his motivation or execution (although I think that's largely the fault of Wikileaks), but I don't think he's going to get much of a fair shake for what he did when the Obama administration is clearly dropping the hammer on leakers.

  • Overt||

    I think he should ultimately pay for his indiscriminate dumping of information.

    This wasn't a whistle blower trying to uncover some specific injustice, it was a guy who wanted to undermine the entire system. That is the only conclusion you can make from his decision to release EVERYTHING. He wanted the entire mission of his organization to fail.

    Now I'm sure there are plenty of people who believe that it is proper and right to undermine the government so completely. Fair enough, but what you are talking about is, literally, treason. There is no gray area, exception or mitigation. Again, you aren't talking about a selective release of information in hopes of stopping an injustice. If you believe the entire system is unjust and requires dissolution, fine. But "just" (as opposed to unjust) treason is still treason.

  • ||

    I don't know if that's the only conclusion that can be reached. Wikileaks had intended to redact the information, and in future data dumps were able to, by harnessing MSM "partners".

    It isn't a stretch of the imagination that he saw something like the "collateral murder" video, was aghast at what was happening and released a ton of information that he didn't feel capable of sifting through to an organization that was better qualified to do so. Greenwald makes the case that Wikileaks tried to have the DoD redact the data dumps but they refused to help and Wikileaks dumped the data anyway (which was a fuckup on Wikileaks' part, but also meant they were taken seriously on the next round).

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    The "collateral murder" video was itself selectively edited for the purpose of provoking reaction. It was not a My Lai scenario.

  • Agammamon||

    That's where I think Manning screwed up (and was wrong).

    I've seen the video and the crew certainly screwed up (an armchair analysis - the people on the ground seemed way too relaxed and casual to be fighting and they were shot simply because some of them were armed but you can't tell that a couple are carrying cameras, unless you already know which ones are), but there's no indication that they *knew* these people were non-combatants, just that they were too aggressive.

    Dirty, nasty shit to be sure, but that's what really happens to people in warzones - it wouldn't have been shocking are unexpected if we were willing to admit that stuff like this is inevitable, and that we're still the best country in the world when it comes to avoiding collateral damage.

    But then it might be too hard to get the public to back all those "kinetic military actions".

  • Mesoman||

    Wikileaks should be treated by the US just like any other foreign spy ring. They are a clear and present danger to our security.

  • Scipio Africanus||

    You mean like this foreign spy ring?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Same. He signed a contract and released information that a) was mostly irrelevant gossip, and b) put local friendlies in Afghanistan at risk.

  • Les||

    A) Yes, illegal behavior by the government is "irrelevant." Covering up the killing of scores of civilians is just "gossip."

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-50.....03543.html

    Just look at all that "irrelevant gossip!"

    B) Citation needed.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    SWIFT JUSTICE.

  • Dibbler||

    a military spokeswoman clarified the use of the term, saying that who the enemy is is not classified, but the method used by the U.S. government to establish that classified information has been used by the unnamed enemy is classified.

    Well that certainly makes it clear as [redacted].

  • Rich||

    who the enemy is is not classified

    OK. Lay it on me.

  • Mesoman||

    It makes perfect sense. One of the most critical categories of secrets is intelligence means. They are keeping the means secret. That's appropriate.

  • Scipio Africanus||

    Fine, but you can't charge someone with "aiding the enemy" if you're not willing to prove the charge. The right to challenge your accuser exists under the UCMJ too.

  • sarcasmic||

    WTF I thought George Carlin was dead!

  • Rich||

    And *I* thought Ray Walston was dead!

  • califernian||

    All the statist bootlickers' Bradley Manning butthurt is a beautiful thing to watch.

  • Redmanfms||

    All the statist bootlickers' Bradley Manning butthurt is a beautiful thing to watch.

    What I find amusing is the contortions some Leftists have got themselves in who hailed Manning as a hero who are now damning Snowden as a traitor.

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