Bradley Manning: guilty of espionage but not aiding the enemy. But was justice served? [POLL]

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order, Privacy

Bradley Manning is not guilty of aiding the enemy but has been convicted on 19 other charges including multiple counts of espionage.

Bradley Manning The former US army intelligence analyst has been facing a court martial at Fort Meade Maryland for numerous charges relating to the biggest leak of restricted government files in history.

The material was released by Manning through the website Wikileaks between April and October 2010 and includes 250,000 diplomatic cables and 500,000 classified army reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The material also included the infamous Collateral Murder video that shows a US strike on Baghdad by attack helicopters in which two Reuters war correspondents were killed.

Judge Colonel Denise Lind ruled that Manning was guilty on multiple charges of espionage, theft, computer fraud, violating a lawful general regulation and one charge of wanton publication of intelligence on the internet.

However she found him not guilty of the most significant charge of all, that of aiding the enemy.

Reuters reports that the U.S. government was seeking to convict Manning of aiding the enemy to secure an automatic life sentence without parole.

The Legal Information Institute describes a person guilty of aiding the enemy as one who:

(1) aids, or attempts to aid, the enemy with arms, ammunition, supplies, money, or other things; or
(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;

During the trial the prosecution characterised Manning as a 'traitor' with 'general evil intent' and as 'a determined soldier with a knowledge, ability, and desire to harm the United States in its war effort'.

The defence presented Manning as a whistleblower, deeply disturbed by the 'bloodlust' he had seen during his time in Iraq.

Following news of the acquittal Bradley Manning's family released a statement that reads:

While we are obviously disappointed in today’s verdicts, we are happy that Judge Lind agreed with us that Brad never intended to help America’s enemies in any way. Brad loves his country and was proud to wear its uniform.

Amnesty International reacted to the news by describing the US government's pursuit of the charge of aiding the enemy as:

...a serious overreach of the law ... there was no credible evidence of Manning's intent to harm the USA.

The Democratic and Republican leaders of the US House of Representatives intelligence committee chose to emphasise the successful convictions in their own joint statement.

Justice has been served today. PFC Manning harmed our national security, violated the public's trust, and now stands convicted of multiple serious crimes

Although he has quashed the most serious accusation against him, the young US army private could still be facing a lifetime behind bars.

Defense attorney David Coombs described the day's events as a battle won:

We won the battle, now we need to go win the war ... Today is a good day, but Bradley is by no means out of the fire

The month-long sentencing phase of the court martial begins today.

So what do you think?

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33 Responses to Bradley Manning: guilty of espionage but not aiding the enemy. But was justice served? [POLL]

  1. Rich · 448 days ago

    A famous quotation goes, "If you want justice you must wait for Heaven. down here we only have the law".

    Since American routinely creates absurd law, like "carbon dioxide is a pollutant" confidence can't be high that the right thing was done by Bradley Manning.

  2. gigi · 448 days ago

    When he's sentenced to life in a military prison, then justice will be served.

  3. RMc-Canada · 448 days ago

    When the Real Crooks of this world are locked up, the American Government, Justice will of been served...

  4. Dr. HH · 448 days ago

    "Bradley Manning: guilty of espionage but not aiding the enemy". But was justice served. No way in a cold day in hell was justice served. The enemy now has the intelligence and all the terrorist has to do is change the way they operate.

  5. Dr. HH · 448 days ago

    This is the same damn situation with Snowden, who was a high school drop out, and hired by NSA with a Top Secret clearance. Look at all the damn damage this jackass did in the name of telling people they are being spied on with out their knowledge

    • daniellynet · 448 days ago

      So you'd rather live in ignorance?

    • Machin Shin · 448 days ago

      A high school dropout? I'm not really sure if that is true or if your just trying to insult him somehow, but if it is true then it makes it that much more hilarious. The US government is huffing and puffing having a tantrum over a "high school dropout" who seems to have outsmarted them.

      Also, look at all the damage? What damage are you talking of exactly? This program should never have existed. Snowden did not cause any damage, the damage was done by the government overstepping their legal powers.

    • This is the crazy part, yes he was a High school drop out, but he got his GED and then went to college. So how is that relevant. I feel like I am listening to Fox News, they would plaster that all over the news, knowing that it meant nothing. Mr. Snowden was well educated and knew his tech stuff and had worked for the NSA years before.

      Do some research first, instead of watching misinformed News, and spreading non-sense and irrelevant information. Your Argument is mute based on lack of facts.

  6. Tony G · 448 days ago

    It is hard to know where to draw the balance. Clearly there should be some form of sentence as a deterrence - otherwise anyone could leak anything with impunity. However, there is also a public knowledge/public good. What about justice for the families of the Reuters correspondents and civilians? It would appear that the US government has been too happy to cover things up when mistakes are made. Yes, let's face it, when we go to war and impose violence on others, there is collateral damage.

    But although it is interesting to see what US diplomats really thought about the rest of us, I don't think that has served any useful purpose other than making people be a bit more circumspect in what they say ......

    • Wolf_Star · 448 days ago

      Time served should be sufficient.

      Whatever they do, the government will always be less trustworthy.

  7. Tony G · 448 days ago

    .... So I don't think either side has it right. We are in the middle of an uncomfortable debate. Whether we like it or not, governments need a certain amount of secrecy in order to function. But with this comes responsibility - to only require to keep secret what truly matters. Keeping secret things that deny others justice really does have to be justified.

    Governments have to make a pact with the people that is a compromise on both sides. Bradley Manning's brave action (to me at least) ranks along with Watergate as another of those turning points where it is necessary to turn back secrecy a little to get more in balance.

  8. Sam · 448 days ago

    He must be relieved not to be convicted of helping the enemy. It'll knock at least 100 years off his 200+ years sentence!

  9. Cliff Jones · 448 days ago

    So... report crimes the government is committing and you get prison time for it. Just ducky.

  10. Joe Blow · 448 days ago

    What a stupid Poll!
    In the case of United States v. Bradley Manning has justice been served?

    Yes
    No
    I don't know
    It depends on the sentence

    Is this justice for Bradley Manning or the USA.

    In the rest of the world. "Aiding the enemy is surely rubbish.

    Guilty of Espionage.-- Not Guilty of Espionage by any definition in dictionary in the rest of the world.

    He exposed the USA's coverups of war crimes in Iraq and their deception and illicit actions all over the world.
    This is not espionage but simply whistle blowing about their many illegal acts all over the world.
    The USA in the past lied about their activities in Vietnam. They lied to the United Nations re their bombing of Cambodia; Lied to UN about the circumstances why it was necessary to invade Iraq in the first Iraq invasion; Lied to the about UN re Iraq possessing Atomic weapons.

    They forced Bradley Manning to endure prison conditions which would be illegal in all democratic countries in the world.

    His sentence for any of the acts he is deemed to have done should be no more than the time he has been currently imprisoned.

    The USA should then be forced to compensate him for his inhumane treatment and all persons associated with his inhumane treatment punished.

  11. Gavin · 448 days ago

    Tony G's comment was by far the most lucid and level-headed I've read so far.

    The thin line on which to try and balance is and always has been maintaining enough secrecy to genuinely uphold public security while not suppressing the underlying values of justice and freedom.

    Of course it is much easier for any given power to increase secrecy over time in the name of general security than it is to peel back that obscurity in the name of individual rights. Thus we have the natural governmental "mission creep" that only an occasional high-profile whistleblowing/traitorous event will cause to be rebalanced.

    The saddest part of all of this is that despite whistleblowing/traitorous actions being generally healthy for a democratic government over time, the whistleblower/traitor will almost always take a pretty hard fall for his or her actions.

    So what is justice in these situations? It depends on the individual case, but I'd mostly hope for "lenient prosecution" over trying to bury such people. Painting people like Manning as wholly evil is just plain ignorant, however much you may disapprove of their actions.

  12. Wolf_Star · 448 days ago

    "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" or in other words, "Who will guard the guards?"

    How does one expose a wrongdoing within the government unless one breaks the law to expose those things that have been classified so as not to be brought to the attention of the very people who should be aware of them?

    If a government itself cannot be held accountable to the law, then that government does not deserve to continue.

    While Bradley Manning might have broken the law, the government broke the trust of the people. And since we cannot punish the government, so too should Bradley Manning not be punished.

  13. bones · 448 days ago

    If the regime Bradley Manning blew the whistle on had been a peaceful, freedom loving democracy then yes I would agree he had committed a crime. However he is in prison because he has exposed some of the activities of a despotic and brutal regime with an appalling human rights record. One that routinely tortures and murders civilians, refuses to observe the geneva convention, overthrows democracies, and props up dictators all in the name of money and greed.

    Bradley manning deserves a medal.

  14. 1: A class of 8 year olds could probably be easily taught to distinguish espionage from whistle blowing. 2: How stupid is 'intelligence' when the subtext of these cases is how easily it can be accessed by countless Mannings and Snowdens. 3. These days, any intelligent intelligence should assume that NOTHING is securely 'classifiable'. 4. How can there be a TRUE democracy if TRUTH is systemically withheld from 'the people'?

  15. Matt · 448 days ago

    What is "justice"?

    Should Manning, and by extension others, be allowed to violate the terms of their security clearance without repercussions?

    Should the U.S. government be allowed to pile on charges just because they're upset that this happened?

    Is it "justice" to point out that the U.S. government is constitutional law to collect information on citizens and covering it up under "National Security" so they don't risk the courts ruling that their actions are illegal?

    If you know an action is necessary but will result in certain consequences, do you take that action anyway? And if you do, aren't you choosing to take those consequences?

    This isn't a cut and dried issue. Which has never stopped an internet poll before.

  16. John C · 448 days ago

    It seems the prevailing attitude is that violating the rules/laws of an institurion he voluntarily entered and swore an oath to uphold is OK because the posters hate the USA. I don't agree. Diplomacy and military activities require a degree of secrecy. If each enlistee who handles these secrets gets to decide for himself which communications ought to be secret, the system will completely break down. I agree that secrecy can and does lead to abuses, but I don't see a way to conduct intelligence and diplomacy without it.

    The huge volume and variety of documents tells me Manning wasn't targeting a specific operation to which he had moral objections; he was having fun seeing what he could get away with. He knew the rules and the consequences of breaking them. There is no one to blame for his predicament but himself.

    • John · 448 days ago

      So any government should be able to secretly do anything they want because the people who work for them are sworn to secrecy?

      I know it is a slippery slope if each individual gets to decide for themselves what is right or wrong, but there has to be a line drawn. We cannot let the government do anything they want just because everyone is sworn to secrecy. If the US government decided they were going to bomb and kill millions of innocent civilians, would you be upset if someone blew the whistle before it happened?

      You are correct in that Manning knew the consequences before he broke secrecy and for that I applaud him. We need more people who are willing to stand up against a corrupt government even if it means being punished.

      • John C · 448 days ago

        There has been lots of talk of government corruption. Someone please be specific. What corrupt practices was Manning trying to uncover with the 100,000 documents he stole? Certainly in that volume of documents there will be embarrassing or even damning information, but I think it is disingenuous to pick out one item from the mountain of information (the "collateral murder" video, for example) and use that to claim that his motivation was heroic.

        By the way, have you ever known of a war in which innocent civilians weren't killed? If one soldier gets trigger-happy is every member of government evil? Do you see everything in black and white? The U.S. has sadly killed some civilians as collateral damage. The terrorists TARGET innocent civilians.

        I hate the fact that GWB started these wars (it coulb be argued that Al Qaeda started one of them) and that so much harm has been done, but I have a hard time believing that Manning is the hero some want to portray him as.

        • John · 447 days ago

          I wasn't referring to the killing of innocent civilians during war. I was simply saying that if the government was planning to do something horrible like randomly bombing France(for example) and killing millions of innocent civilians for no reason and you knew about it, would you not speak up? I know I would. I know this is an exaggeration, but my point is if there is something horrible going on in the government it should not be allowed to happen just because it is "top secret".

          Also if one soldier got trigger-happy and killed a bunch of civilians then no the government isn't evil, but if the government tries to cover it up then I would say they are evil.

  17. James Long · 448 days ago

    What is wrong with you numbskulls?? He exposed a corrupt government with too much power. If the cover up of the 'Collateral Murder' incident doesn't glaringly show that.. Just put your blinders back on and STFU.

    Those of us who are RESPONSIBLE citizens would like to keep our government in check, before our country earns the reputation overseas that the terrorists try to use to recruit more people.

    SOMEBODY in the US government should be giving this guy a pardon. Congress? The president? The fact that no one wants to honor his actions shows how corrupt every corner of our government is, and is a testament to how off track our country is.

  18. AlRetd · 448 days ago

    Hey Jane Fonda & John Kerry weren't convicted of being traitors, why should Manning?

  19. Justice will partially be served when Manning gets the Nobel Peace Prize, or some similar medal.

    Justice will be served when the Bush Crime Syndicate is in jail.

    Justice will be served when the 99% bankers, and traders are in jail.

    Justice will be served when the lobbyists are in jail.

    Justice will be served when those who swore to uphold the US Constitution, and are failing to do so are in jail.

    Justice will NOT be served when Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, or Edward Snowden are in jail.

    Justice may only come by way of revolution. Hopefully, peaceful revolution.

  20. Freida Gray · 447 days ago

    Maybe the Legal Information Institute needs to redefine someone who gives aid to the enemy.According to their 2nd definition,anyone who corresponds,or communicates with "the enemy" gives aid to that enemy.So, anyone who has any contact with someone from a country the US is at war with, or even considering going to war with,through e-mail or on social networks or even these newsletter blog posts would be guilty of aiding the enemy.
    An 8 year-old sending a letter to another 8 year-old in a country he doesn't realize the US is at war with would also be guilty of giving aid to the enemy,even if all he did was complain about his bed-time.

  21. Kathy Coutanche · 447 days ago

    The US government is corrupt, greedy and unconstitutional. Anyone who is brave enough to try to expose its criminal activities is criminalised themselves. The US government, along with many other governments, should be on trial, not people like Manning.

  22. Judge · 447 days ago

    Stupid poll.
    The selection is not clear!!!
    No justice has not been served - he is inoccent since the system did not stop him.

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About the author

Mark Stockley is the founder of independent web consultancy Compound Eye and he's interested in literally anything that makes websites better. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkStockley