Bradley Manning Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy, Guilty of Espionage

The military leaker could still face life behind bars.

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In the closing arguments, the court martial of Bradley Manning came down to a debate over the meaning of a selfie—a digital photograph the young former intelligence analyst had taken of himself in a full length mirror, smiling while wearing makeup and a bra just days after releasing classified material to Wikileaks.

To prosecutors, the photograph showed clear evidence of Manning’s malice and his determination to aide America’s enemies with one of the largest leaks of classified information in U.S. history. “What you see, your honor, in this picture is not a troubled, anguished or well-intentioned soldier struggling with the consequences of U.S. military action or foreign policy,” said Maj. Ashden Fein, the lead prosecutor. “This is a gleeful, grinning Pfc. Manning.”

For the defense, the very same photograph was a sign of personal torment, not traitorous intent. “What you see there is a young man who is cross dressing,” said Manning’s attorney, David Coombs. “Just maybe that person is smiling because he’s able to be himself at that moment.”

A military judge, Col. Denise Lind, rebuked the prosecutors claims Tuesday by ruling that Manning was not guilty of the government’s most serious charge against him, aiding the enemy, in a decision that amounts to a victory for Manning and his supporters by sparing him an immediate life sentence without the possibility of parole. Manning had previously pled guilty to many of the charges against him, admitting to serial and enormous leaks of classified information.

The judge convicted Manning on nearly all of the lesser charges against him, opening up a sentencing phase of the trail that begins Wednesday that could still put the 25-year-old in a military prison for the rest of his life. She also acquitted him of one count under the espionage act that stemmed from his release of a video that showed a fatal military airstrike in Afghanistan.

From the beginning, the court martial had revolved around the question of Manning’s motivations when he released the information. With most of the facts of his actions agreed to by both sides, prosecutors argued that Manning had intended to harm the country and help Al Qaeda. In one message, repeatedly cited by prosecutors, Manning had joked at the time of his release that “Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack.”

The defense sought to portray Manning as a troubled, isolated and naïve young man who only wanted to call out perceived injustice that he saw in his job as an Iraq-based intelligence analyst for the military. “Nowhere does he discuss, I know the enemy is going to get this,” said Coombs in his closing statement. “He’s solely concentrated on making a difference, changing the way the world operates.”

Manning admitted to delivering hundreds of thousands of classified documents anonymously to Wikileaks, as well as carrying on contemporaneous online chats with a person be believed to be the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, or one of his senior deputies. Manning told the court that neither Assange nor anyone else at Wikileaks ever directed him to make disclosures.

Among the material he leaked were hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, a video of an airstrikes that killed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, and classified incident data from both the Iraq and Afghanistan war that recorded casualty numbers.

38 comments
NSAjanitor
NSAjanitor

One site that has been providing consistent coverage of the case is the Democracy Now! news program. They did a 1.5 hour special on the verdict yesterday and are speaking with Julian Assange today about what Manning's case means for WikiLeaks and journalism. Here's a link: www.democracynow.org/topics/bradley_manning

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

Disinformation aimed at destabilization of other States - it is state terrorism in accordance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention, 1987

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

What has long been no secret.

The U.S. use human rights as a rule in order to carry out through the UN resolution on intervention in other countries through Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.USA do not pay attention to the countries with the puppet regimes that systematically violate human rights, but at the same time represent the interests of the American financial oligarchy. On ordinary Americans poured abundant disinformation to make them fight where it is profitable American banksters. The results of this policyare obvious . In the 2012 the number of deaths as a result of suicide among American troops in Afghanistan exceeded combat losses. They go crazy.

Many American media had a responsibility before the American people and before humanity, when continue to lie about the war in Vietnam, Afghanistan, iraq, Libya, Syria and in other countries.

sgtmaj05
sgtmaj05

This is crazy.  He should have be hanged for high treason!  He sold us out for some crazy ideology that does not serve the protection of the country and the people.

Please remember this, it is old cliché but freedom is not free!

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

«Manning had intended to harm the country and help Al Qaeda»???

lou.dubin
lou.dubin

could you imagine results of this happening during World War 2. Manning would have been tied tothe periscope of a submarine and they would have descended 2 300 feet.( if he lived long enough).

There are or will or even maybe life threatening incidents that have or will come out of these leaks. The judge is a lefty loon in my opinion.

The goverment needs to do things that are not necessarily legal.

The congress knows of many of these but sworn to secrecy and will not talk.

An example. It is known that to save American lives in Iraq. Two prisoners were taken up in heliocopter.. One took the short route back and the other sang like a canary immediatly..

Is this proper.. NO.. is it effective YES... did it save American lives YES... I am glad I was to old to serve there..

RudyHaugeneder
RudyHaugeneder

So you think muzzling future whistle blowers -- the guys who expose government wrongdoing -- is going to stop leaks. Well think again. It actually means worse trouble than anybody in government or its security agencies could normally dream of.
Rather than take collective information/data and give it to legitimate media agencies to warn the public, insiders who want to stop the rot now have no choice but to leave assorted little doors open to hackers to crack open, and even leave subtle little hints as to how. That means more and more enemies of the state, so to speak, will also be sneaking around looking for these little doors -- doors that are always there no matter how tight security is but in this case, thanks to whistle blower laws, may comparatively seem like freeways and highways.
This muzzling will backfire like nobody ever dreamed: Nobody except people with conscience who will risk a lot to save a lot of us. And it's largely the vicious Obama administration's fault because they value secrecy over American peoples' rights and freedoms; government and NSA busterds no matter what party is in power: Busterds.

anti-government
anti-government

It's too bad there's no court willing or "competent" to try the war criminals exposed by Manning's disclosures.

Killing civilians in pursuit of political goals is wrong no matter who does it ("terrorists" or soldiers).

We've killed far more civilians with our bombs than all "terrorists" in world history combined.

Anyone who exposes our government's lies and murders while braving its retribution is a hero and deserves a medal at least as much as a brave soldie or marine who charges an enemy pillbox.

Sometimes, a commitment to peace takes MORE courage than following the herd into conformist violence.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

How could anyone be guilty of espionage yet not guilty of aiding the enemy is beyond common sense. The military should be the last institution free of political correctness. Apparently no so.


BradL
BradL

Espionage? Ridiculous. The man was defending our freedom of speech.

DanBruce
DanBruce

Manning deserves to spend many, many years in prison for his crimes. He betrayed his oath to uphold the Constitution by ignoring the chain of command. We won't last long as a nation if we have PFCs making national security decisions for all of us instead of letting those elected to do so do so.

MichaelSweden
MichaelSweden

If you include the so called “derivative classification" the US classifies some 500 million pages of documents per year. In a democracy the citizens are supposed to have information enough to monitor the people that has been elected and the civil servants that are to carry out political decisions. This regards accountability.

If you classify such a vast amount of information they can't which threatens democratic rule.

Manning decided to resist the threat to democracy by releasing information. People should be prosecuted, those people that has decided for this excessive, state of paranoia that wants to classify everything.

Release Bradley Manning!

MrObvious
MrObvious

He knew the risk he took by releasing the info. But espionage? I guess they had to find something on the guy - but if you release the info to everyone, everyone and no one have anything to gain from it.

But whatever. There are consequences to these actions and unlike Snowden he's facing them.

The spar over the digital picture is just nonsense - I'm sure the prosecutor didn't need to assert a pathetic malignancy over it in order to get him behind bars for a long time - seems the actual deeds warranted that.

selfnonation
selfnonation

but how does "crossdressing" indicate an intent to aid the "enemy"? - what does the "meaning of being a selfie" have to do with or how does it indicate an intent to aid the "enemy"? - and there was no declaration of war by Congress against Iraq or Afghanistan like there was against the Axis Powers before WW2 - and all know that the Iraq war - if not also the Afghan war - was based on lies amen? - it was homophobia that decided this case

Wiggymaster
Wiggymaster

I am relieved and happy that the attempts to paint this man as a mustache-twirling villain who disclosed this information with the intent of doing anything other than disclosing the wrongdoing of the American government have failed.  I am saddened to know that, in terms of the sentence he will likely be handed, it probably won't make much difference.  It speaks volumes that the government, knowing this, still spent the time, effort, and money into attempting to classify Manning as a terrorist, when it's blatantly obvious to anyone who knows the facts of the case that he was ACTIVELY looking for a news outlet to take his story before he went to Wikileaks.  If he was looking to aide the enemy, why would he go there?  Why not just transmit the secrets anonymously to Al Qaeda themselves?  If his goal was to aide the enemy, why disclose diplomatic cables rather than even more sensitive data, such as positions and movements of troops, schedules, and diagnostics and schematics of military equipment?  

It's painstakingly obvious what the government was attempting to do here.  They wanted to make an example out of Manning, up to and including embarrassing him and discrediting him in every disgusting way, shape, and form that they could.  They went as far as to present Manning as some sort of cross-dressing freak, appealing to the lowest primal common denominator of judgment they could.  I can see why Manning wanted a judge rather than a jury to decide his fate; a bunch of gung-ho jarheads who bleed red white and blue could've been psychologically manipulated much more easily by the prosecution.  This case was never about justice - it was about vengeance.  It was about breaking a man - tearing him down piece by piece for the crime of telling the truth.  His ill-treatment while in custody was well documented. 

As far as I'm concerned, none of the information he disclosed presented a danger to anyone.  Unfortunately the law on the book states that this is irrelevant; he disclosed sensitive information and is guilty of espionage regardless of the purpose.  He knew this when he did it, however, and as stated in the article, accepted the consequences of these actions.  Regardless, it's still tragic that this is what we have allowed our government to become.  I'm praying for Manning and his family, and that one day he'll be able to be a free man, and enter a world which is very, very grateful for his actions.  To him and his family, I can only offer these words of comfort:  true heroes aren't those that do immeasurable good, or even do immeasurable good without expecting anything in return.  True heroes are those that do immeasurable good and know that they will suffer for it.  Manning has done for openness and transparency what so many soldiers who have earned the Medal of Honor have done for their comrades in the field.  He has taken a bullet for the truth.   

DanielStoner
DanielStoner

Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it, statists/fascists (Feinstein, Reid, Schumer, Obama, Graham, McCain, McConnell, Boehner) !!!!!

anti-government
anti-government

@ReneDemonteverde The absurd verdict just shows how desperate the military was to convict him of SOMETHING when he obviously wasn't guily of anything of military value.

The man is a POLITICAL prisoner of the faux-liberal (but really fascist like all of them) Obama reign of terror.

MichaelSweden
MichaelSweden

@DanBruce "national security" such a common and handy term just to keep everything secret on a massive scale.  What it conceals is a bureaucracy gone rouge - a NSA, CIA and a Pentagon - in practice working without any supervision. What Max Weber warned for has come true. In a democracy you are supposed to be able to vote to get rid of people in public office that you don't like. But it is impossible to get rid of these unaccountable civil servants.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@anti-government @ReneDemonteverde You convinced me with the common sensical of your view. He is not guilty of any military value. Our enemies will just sift through all that and throw out anything that could not benefit them militarily and techonologically. Right. How kind of them.

DanBruce
DanBruce

@MichaelSweden @DanBruce And yoiu approve of PFCs going rogue? We elect a president to be commander in chief, and we elect a Congress to do oversight of our national security structure. No one elected Bradley Manning except himself. THat is an affront to the asic idea of democracy. Can't you see that?

SomeoneHasToSayIt
SomeoneHasToSayIt

@DanBruce @MichaelSweden It seems to me that you two are both identifying a serious threat to democracy and demanding accountabilty for it.  If we are to have a functioning democracy, we certainly don't want low-level government employees making policy decisions.  

However, DanBruce, do you not see the kind of secret government we have slid into as also being a threat to democracy, and in fact, a much greater threat than is posed by Manning? Without the informed consent of the governed, our government is acting as a despot, and violating the very meaning of representative government.  In the event that a government is lying to its citizens about what the policy is, do you think employees should connive in this violation of representative ideals, following orders no matter what?  I for one would hope that should our government turn against us, that many gov't employees would prove to care more about America and Americans than about the current government.  In the absence of such fundamental dysfunctions in government, Manning is a traitor.  In their presence, he is a hero.  

DanBruce
DanBruce

@MichaelSweden @DanBruce If you cannot see the difference in the way things operated in WWII Germany and our own representative form of government, I don't think there is anything I can say that will reach you. AS for accountability, I hope that Manning gets 139 years of it. 

MichaelSweden
MichaelSweden

@DanBruce @MichaelSweden When a government or the civil servants clearly step out of the line in relation to generally accepted values some people tend to use civil disobedience. Just any rule cannot be obeyed that is what the Nurembourg-trial showed because all of the nazis where saying what you now are saying: I just followed the orders. Just follow the rules.

The government and the military-insdustrial-intelligence-complex, they were the ones that stopped following the rules LONG BEFORE Bradley Manning did.

And you did not respond to what I said about accountability.

DanBruce
DanBruce

@MichaelSweden @DanBruce When one person decides to make decisions for everyone else, there is no democracy. What Manning did destroys the very fabric of a democracy of representative government. Manning essentially nullified my vote as far as my citizenship right to choose those who make governmental decisions for me.

MichaelSweden
MichaelSweden

@DanBruce @MichaelSweden Well, if documents are secret to such a vast extent how are you going to tell what the government is doing and the civil servants? You are electing people and you have no idea of what they are doing. Therefore you can not make them accountable, without accountability democracy become a meaningless game.

DanBruce
DanBruce

@MichaelSweden @DanBruce Manning broke the law. It's as simple as that. He does not have the right to decide national security issues for me. I elect people to do that. It's called representative government (or in shorthand, democracy). Manning acted like a despot, making decisions for all of us on his own, assuming that he knows best. That selfish attitude deserves no respect. I'll be glad to see him spend many years in jail with time to think about how foolishly and dangerously he acted.