Transparency isn’t treason! NY Times journalists criticize “aiding the enemy” charge

By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. January 18, 2013.

PFC Bradley Manning. Photograph: AFP/Brendan Smialowski/Getty

PFC Bradley Manning. Photograph: AFP/Brendan Smialowski/Getty

Last week in Fort Meade, MD, government prosecutors said that if PFC Bradley Manning had released documents to the New York Times instead of WikiLeaks, they would still charge him with indirectly ‘aiding the enemy,’ which carries a life sentence.

This would be unprecedented: never before has a soldier been sent to jail for ‘aiding the enemy’ as a result of giving information to a news outlet. Government prosecutors argue that Manning needn’t have intended to aid the enemy; merely that he knew Al Qaeda could use the information is enough. This would turn all government whistle-blowing into treason: a grave threat to both potential sources and American journalism.

Following this contention in court, the Los Angeles Times called on the government to drop the ‘aiding the enemy’ charge, writing in an editorial, “That charge strikes us as excessive in the absence of evidence that Manning consciously colluded with hostile nations or terrorists.”

Since then, even higher-profile media members have condemned the military’s pernicious claim and the precedent it would set. In an email in which she explained she couldn’t speak on behalf of her newspaper but could comment as a lifelong journalist and a former newspaper editor, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan said,

“The implications for press freedom in the Bradley Manning prosecution trouble me, as does the federal government’s unprecedented targeting, in recent years, of whistleblowers and those who leak to the press.  The issues certainly aren’t black and white, but if the public expects the press to do its crucial job in our democracy, people ought to be more worried than they apparently are.  And I agree with the Los Angeles Times editorial that the “aiding the enemy” charge, which could result in a life sentence, is excessive.”

New York Times columnist and former executive editor Bill Keller said, “I think the treatment of Manning feels heavy-handed and out of proportion to actual harm done.”

In Michael Calderone’s story for the Huffington Post, “Manning Case Raises Troubling Questions For Journalists,” about the implications of this argument, the Washington Post’s Dana Priest said, “they don’t want other people to get the idea that they should be doing this,” and that it’ll have a “chilling effect on sources.”

Glenn Greenwald wrote for the Guardian, “[the government’s argument] can be – and almost certainly will be – just as easily applied to the vast majority of leaks on which investigative journalism has always relied.”

Mainstream news outlets, Greenwald said,

“might want to take a serious interest in this fact and marshal opposition to what is being done to Bradley Manning: if not out of concern for the injustices to which he is being subjected, then out of self-interest, to ensure that their reporters and their past and future whistle-blowing sources cannot be similarly persecuted.”

So why does the government continue to prosecute this way? Keller said, “It’s been clear from the outset that the government decided to make a lesson of Bradley Manning,” and that “the extreme conditions of his early confinement and the aiding-the-enemy charges suggest a deep animus toward Bradley.”

As the government works to discourage future leakers and to tighten security, it also classifies exponentially more documents every day. This harms the very people Bradley Manning wanted to inform in the first place: the American people.

16 thoughts on “Transparency isn’t treason! NY Times journalists criticize “aiding the enemy” charge

  1. It isn’t at all as simple as using Manning to teach a lesson. If you look over several months time you will see I believe a massive cyber security operation coming from the White House that obtained huge amounts of money to build The Utah Data Center, that launched thousands of intelligence operatives online, that developed surveillance programs and that passed one law after the other restricting the rights of cyber denizens and journalists. Look and keep looking.

    • I think this is the thing Julian Assange is worrying about. The on going unprecedented internet surveillance. Assange was interview by CNN and here is the video.

      By the way, just ignore Erin Burnett, she is annoying. She never care about internet surveillance topic. She is just a shark smells blood.

  2. The prosecution needs to do some serious soul searching. This vicious, conscienceless drive to “win” which they are displaying doesn’t belong in this country.
    They know damn well that Bradley was in the right.
    Anyway, very nice to see these intelligent, good-hearted, uncorrupt journalists supporting Bradley publicly.
    Thanks for writing this article.

  3. Best mogelijk dat B.Manning zijn eenzameopsluiting/vervolging van een paar jaar kan doorstaan door zijn vroegere werkzaamheden. Het vermogen te verdragen van de omstandigheden.

  4. Is THIS True? Check This Out & Send it Fast! It will be Cleaned!

    If this is really the judges Twitter feed, this is a bomb shell!

    I have made screen captures of all of her Twitter posts from today.

    She talks about how the military and specific people are trying to Coers her to convict Manning to prevent future whistleblowers from coming forward

  5. I am extremely worried at the infringement
    of our internet freedom and indeed our privacy on the telephone and even in our houses. I learned on Channel 2 that the current FBI agents pride themselves in going into and searching homes and offices and leaving no trace. And obviously without a warrant. (what’s that?).
    What have we come to? Does the word “Terrorism” justify everything?

    • It’s true. The war on Manning is the war on journalism.
      Pure and simple.

      I wish more “journalists” recognized this basic truth and what it means for all of us.

  6. Whatever happened to the notions of presumed innocence, speedy and public trial, protection from cruel and unusual punishment, respect for those who call out injustice, and free press? I suppose they’ve gone down the drain. As bad as the current menace to a free press is, the treatment of Bradley Manning is still worse. The illegalities and immoralities involved, while not necessarily surprising in this slum of a century, are astonishing and deeply saddening. We have answered overt insurgent terrorism from abroad with a creeping state terrorism at home, in a downward spiral of institutionalized violence. And so we have a thousand days of disgrace. I tremble for my country when I think of it, and wonder if we need a new Declaration of Independence from the military-industrial complex that is obviously now our government.

  7. The United States government and our industrial military act solely on behalf of corporate interests here and abroad. Bradley Manning took great risks by exposing the gross hypocrisy and heinous crimes of our military in Iraq when he released the famous video of a group of helicoptered soldiers massacring human beings, including children, as if they were fish in a barrel. These were the actions of a brave whistleblower who knew that our military had tacitly engaged in cold-blooded, disengaged murder, no less unsanctioned than the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. Grave crimes were exposed here, where is the outrage from the American public? Bradley Manning deserves no less than full exoneration, monetary reparation for his long and arduous incarceration and an apology from his commander-in-chief, President Obama. Of course, none of this will occur because the President has already shown his hand prior to the trial by stating on camera that Manning ‘broke laws’, thus prejudicing any jurors and invalidating the very notion of justice and due process in our Constitution.

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