On Tuesday, Army Colonel Denise Lind found Private First Class Bradley Manning guilty of 17 of 21 counts of charges related to Manning’s leak of some 700,000 classified documents to the website WikiLeaks. (See here for Alexa O’Brien’s helpful graphical summary of the counts and here for Freedom of the Press Foundation’s full trial transcripts.) Although Colonel Lind did not find Manning guilty of charges of “aiding the enemy,” she found him guilty of seven of eight counts of violating the Espionage Act for leaking intelligence “with reason to believe such information could be used to the injury of the U.S. or the advantage of any foreign nation.” Manning was also found guilty of “wrongfully and wantonly” causing to be published on the internet intelligence belonging to the U.S., “having knowledge that intelligence published on the internet is accessible to the enemy.” Sentencing proceedings, which progress rapidly in the military justice system, began Wednesday. Manning faces a possible 136 years in military prison.
Manning’s detailed statement offered to the court martial in February explains how a gawky, barely post-pubescent Army intelligence analyst from Oklahoma came to publicize virtual reams of national security security secrets with which his country had entrusted him. Manning said: “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within [the military’s own databases], it could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Bradley Manning wanted to spark a debate. Like a high school civics teacher trying to rouse his dozing students, he wanted to get us all talking. See? He’s not a turncoat willing to endanger the lives of Americans or a vainglorious and disgruntled soldier. He’s just a patriotic facilitator of conversation.
Rubbish. Manning’s acts were, at best, absurdly naive, and at worst, paternalistic and hubristic….