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February 04, 2012 09:22 PM UTC

Bradley Manning Court Martial "could be imprisoned for life"

  • 2 Comments
  • by: wade norris

That’s right.

Bradley Manning could face life imprisonment for leaking cables about how the Government conducted itself in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I have a clear opinion about the extreme use of solitary confinement on Bradley Manning after his arrest – I believe this was wrong and that this was clearly an attempt to silence other people who might think about becoming a ‘potential whistleblower.’

And I say  ‘potential’ whistlebliower’ because I am conflicted about what the merits of the case are. Did Manning expose crimes? Yes. Does the government have merit to prosecute him for exposing other info that put people at risk?

I don’t know.

What say you?

I have heard the arguments on both sides, on the one hand, Bradley Manning’s leaks violated the Government’s ability to effectively operate against the War on Terror, on the other hand, Bradley Manning’s leaks exposed the previous administration’s use of torture and worse in the War on Terror.

But I can think of another case that mirrors this one closely.

Valerie Plame.

Her identity was leaked also as a way to silence other whistle-blowers – much like the solitary that Manning faced after his arrest.

By leaking Valerie Plame’s identity – there is no doubt that this harmed our intelligence community, put assets in jeopardy or cost them their lives and hindered our government from operating in the War on Terror.

And this leak came from the highest realms of our previous administration – from Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff – Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby.  

So we have two cases of leaked information.

One leak to Wikileaks and the General public about our Government’s covert actions – the other a leak from within the Chambers of the Vice President, about our Government’s covert actions.

I am no legal expert, but it seems that Bradley Manning and Scooter Libby did pretty much the same thing – leaking info the Government has said put us at risk and people’s lives in harm’s way.

In my humble opinion, Bradley Manning should receive a sentence no more severe than Scooter Libby – which was 30 months in federal prison.

But since I am just an average citizen, I need some ‘smart people’ to explain to me why this low level officer deserves to be sentenced to life in prison.

Any info is appreciated.

Comments

2 thoughts on “Bradley Manning Court Martial “could be imprisoned for life”

  1. Let’s start with the basics:

    At the time, Specialist Manning an Intelligence Analyist (96B) was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division,FOB Hammer (near Baghdad)working in one of the HQ sections (no one has specified which one) which gave him access to SIPRNet, one of the most sensitive and classified networks in the military.

    IMPORTANT NOTE – when you are assigned to a HQ cell like the TOC (tactical operations center)and you have access to classified material, you are briefed OVER AND OVER again about the responsibilities of safeguarding classified material, and the cruel and unusual punishment awaiting you (courtesy of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice UCMJ)if you leak, fail to safeguard or otherwise reveal that information.

    Deployments to The Suck are not pleasant, and it seems that even prior to deployment SPC Manning was having severe behavioral health issues. But the military is deploying troops with severe TBI and PTSI, so these issues did not rise to being prevented it. It is this time period (prior to deployment) that he engaged in a relationship with a college student that started to develop some hacker skillz.

    During his deployment to Iraq he became a problem soldier (mental state and his military demeanor) which included him punching a female soldier, which got him busted to PFC and a ticket out of the Army after redeployment back to Fort Drum.

    It was during this time that PFC Manning (allegedly) started leaking documents from SIPRNet to whomever he cold give them to.

    This included the gun camera footage of an Apache flight committing war crimes against civilians, but it also included hundreds of thousands of documents that included diplomatic cable, message traffic from tactical units, and internal unit assessments (1st Platoon has suffered 60% casualties). This number is important – In all, he is accused of having leaked over half a million documents and two videos.

    If PFC Manning did this, then he knowingly violated several articles of the UCMJ, each of which carries a severe punishment which includes no-shit jail time at the Correctional Barracks in Kansas.

    Now, many have hailed the PFC for being a hero in the tradition of Daniel Ellsberg, and feel his multiple violation of the UCMJ show be rewarded with a parade and dismissal of all charges.

    NOT.

    In the case of the Apache videos, he did discover definitive proof of a war crime, but his obligation was to report it to his chain of command, or if he felt that doing so would endanger his career or prevent the evidence from being acted on, he has multiple channels to report it higher up the chain of command, and outside. PFC Manning did not even attempt this method.

    So, assuming the best-case scenario, PFC Manning could use the Federal Whistleblower laws to justify exposing the video to an appropriate outlet. So that covers his ass for those two videos.

    The other 500,000 leaked documents? Not so much. He’d have to have read EVERY SINGLE DOCUMENT to know the contents of each one, and make an independent assessment of each one for the possible wrongdoing in each document, and then decide that THAT document could not be presented to his normal Chain of Command for Action, and THAT document had to be leaked to an outside source to prevent the wrongdoing it contains.

    Again, NOT.

    By all accounts, this was an instance of a narcissist inflating his own worth by leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to a “journalist” of dubious professional credibility. He did so with the knowledge of Army regulations, and the tactical and operational consequences on his unit and above in Iraq.

    So, here’s the difference between PFC Manning and Mr Ellsberg – Ellsberg READ the entire collection of the Pentagon Papers, realized what they contained, and decided that leaking it to the press was the only way to expose the content in order to show corruption in the Federal Govt. AND he was prepared to go to jail over the exposure of classified information.

    PFC Manning did none of this, with the exception of the Apache Videos.

    As such, he has been charged with violations of UCMJ Articles 92 and 134 for transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system in connection with the leaking of a video of a helicopter attack in Iraq in 2007, and later an additional 22 charges were preferred, including wrongfully obtaining classified material for the purpose of posting it on the Internet, knowing that the information would be accessed by the enemy; the illegal transmission of defense information; fraud; and aiding the enemy.

    The Article 32 hearing preferred against him by a Courts Martial Authority (which is very much like a grand Jury with one important difference) determined that there was sufficient evidence to try him on all of these charges. One thing that’s different from a grand jury is that once the Art 32 hearing hears all the allowable evidence, THAT evidence is all that’s allowed to be introduced at the Court Martial. That why LTC Birther’s trial did not dissolve into a one-ring circus with Orly Tatiz….those Presidential Supoenas and other crap were disallowed at the Art 32 hearing.

    Same same for PFC Manning. The Prez and Secy of State will not be testifying at the Court Martial. I wouldn’t state that his conviction is pre-determined, but at this point if he were my troop I’d be telling him to cut a deal and fast.

    Because if he’s convicted on all counts (or even most of them) he will face life imprisonment, reduction in rank to the lowest enlisted pay grade, a dishonorable discharge, and loss of pay and allowances. I have no doubt that the prosecution will go for that.

    Now, with that in mind, let’s answer your last question:

    I need some ‘smart people’ to explain to me why this low level officer deserves to be sentenced to life in prison.

    PFC Manning occupied a particular position of responsibility within a military unit in combat, and he totally abdicated ALL of those responsibilities when he leaked hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents illegally copied from a highly classified computer network.

    Doesn’t matter what they contain (with the exception of the Apache Footage) in regards to public policy….he took an oath “…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.”

    It’s a different, harsher standard that what Scooter was judged under, and that’s for a reason. But he raised his hand voluntarily, and he served for years before he deployed to The Suck. He agreed to these rules, by enlisting and by working in a job that handles classified information.

    It also doesn’t matter that the Govt can’t prove that one single Soldier, Marine, Airman or Sailor was harmed by these massive leaks – the issue is that they could be.

    PFC Manning is going to jail for the rest of his life if convicted, or (if he cuts a deal) probably 20 years.

    I have no problem with that.  

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