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Commentary :: War and Militarism
Bradley Manning: Aiding the Enemy Charge Sticks
18 Jul 2013
police state
Bradley Manning: Aiding the Enemy Charge Sticks

by Stephen Lendman

Manning's an American hero. He's no criminal. He's being hung out to dry wrongfully. It's for doing the right thing. He's a 2013 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

He exposed US lawlessness. He spoke truth to power. He did so courageously. He challenged American imperial rampaging. Everyone has a right to know.

He's been secretly tried. Kangaroo court military injustice awaits him. It's baked in the cake. Doing so sends a message. It threatens other potential whistleblowers. Stay quiet or be treated like Manning.

He said America's "obsessed with capturing and killing people. Collateral murder" is policy. Human life has no value. Advancing America's imperium is prioritized.

Mass killing and destruction are small prices to pay. America's on a roll. It's heading the wrong way. It's on a fast track toward tyranny. It's virtually full-blown.

It honors its worst. It persecutes its best. Manning's heroic. He faces potential life in prison. It's for doing the right thing. Charges wrongfully include aiding and abetting America's enemies.

Pogo was right saying: "We have met the enemy and he is us." America belongs in the dock, not Manning.

On July 4, defense counsel moved to dismiss seven charges. In early July, military prosecutors rested their case. On July 11, defense lawyers concluded theirs. On July 16, Judge Col. Denise Lind agreed to consider Manning's defense move to dismiss.

They include falsely claiming he committed computer fraud. They said it was by downloading diplomatic cables from the Net-Centric Diplomacy (NCD) database.

Military prosecutors say he violated US statute 18 USC 1030 by "exceeding" his "authorized access" with Wget. It's a program used to automatically download files.

Defense counsel David Coombs said prosecutors want to turn restricted use into an access restriction. It constitutes computer fraud. Manning's absolutely innocent. Claiming otherwise is false.

According to forensic expert David Shaver, Wget doesn't give users more access than otherwise available. It merely changes how downloads obtain information.

Prosecutors conceded that Manning didn't use Wget for firewall circumvention. They said because NCD has no process to export cables in bulk, restrictions are implied.

They claim using Wget constitutes unauthorized access. It's because Manning was able to retrieve cables faster than without it.

Speed and efficiency don't constitute fraud. Legitimately claiming it doesn't wash. More on that below.

Coombs also moved to dismiss aiding the enemy charges. It's because prosecutors presented no credible evidence.

They failed to show Manning had "actual knowledge" that giving WikiLeaks information constituted indirectly aiding the enemy.

At best, said Coombs, prosecutors might have shown Manning had been "negligent" or "should have known" that Al Qaeda or other enemy groups could access WikiLeaks information.

Doing so doesn't aid and/or abet America's enemies. Whether Manning "should have known" something is a slippery slope judgment. It's a dangerously low burden of proof. It's especially so in Manning's case.

It involves potential capital punishment for alleged judgmental errors. No legitimate court would concur. Hanging ones convict by accusation. That alone suffices. Innocence is no defense. Police states operate that way.

Prosecutorial claims about Manning having "actual knowledge" that America's enemies would view WikiLeaks information flies in the face of reality. They're absurd on their face. They don't wash. They stuck.

On July 18, military Judge Lind ignored key facts. She refused to dismiss aiding and abetting America's enemy charges. She rejected Coombs' defense motion to do so.

She did what she was expected to do. Manning's guilty by accusation. Obama did the unconscionable. He interfered with an ongoing trial.

Manning "broke the law," he said. He said so without credible evidence. He hung him out to dry. He pronounced him guilty by accusation.

What military or civil judge would dare overrule the president and commander-in-chief? None hoping to rise to higher judicial or military ranks.

None planning a political career. None planning a business, academic or other professional one. None concerned for their safety.

Perhaps they'd face aiding and abetting America's enemy charges. It bears repeating. Police states operate that way.

Federation of American Scientists expert Steven Aftergood expressed outrage over Obama's comment. It was "not appropriate," he said.

"(I)t assumes Manning is guilty…No one should mistake a charge for a conviction - especially the nation's highest official."

National Institute of Military Justice legal expert Eugene Fidell said:

"Commenting on Manning's conditions of confinement is one thing. I would have strongly advised (Obama) to not comment about Manning's guilt."

Doing so obstructs justice. Manning faced faint hope for justice. Obama's comment assured none. According to Fidell:

It's not that hard to ensure that unlawful command influence hasn't in fact prejudiced the right to a fair trial." Improper Obama comments assured it.

He lied saying he's restricted like Manning. He claimed he must "abide by certain rules of classified information" or be punished.

As president and commander-in-chief, he has legal access to anything he wishes. He can get whatever he wants.

He's a legal scholar. He knows it. He claimed otherwise. Aftergood said he "had a bad day." He "said a number of things that really were not coherent."

He said plenty that was dead wrong. It's typical Obama doublespeak duplicity. It happens with disturbing regularity. It matters most with lives on the line. He dismissively doesn't care.

Aiding the enemy's a capital offense. Prosecutors said they won't pursue it. They want Manning facing life in prison hard time.

They want him enduring Supermax harshness. Perhaps back in isolation longterm. It's for prisoners called "the worst of the worst."

Allegedly they're considered too dangerous for general population circulation. They're for ones America wants punished viciously. Injustice is longstanding policy.

Thousands of political prisoners languish in America's gulag. It's the world's largest by far. It's the shame of the nation. It wants Manning joining other unjustly.

Judge Col. Lind's complicit. She shamelessly claimed her decision was based on Manning's "training and experience and preparation."

She cited the volume of "classified" information he disclosed to WikiLeaks. She said doing so buttressed prosecutorial charges of "knowingly provid(ing) information to the enemy."

She claimed because Manning has access to classified publications, he knows terrorist groups can access online anything made public.

She said he was trained to protect critical information. According to ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project director Ben Wizner:

"The aiding the enemy charge is not only unconstitutional, it is unnecessary."

"The point of charging Manning in this way is to transform what was widely seen around the world as a valuable leak into treason."

"The government purports to criminalize any information that is published somewhere where the enemy can see it."

According to Fidell:

If Manning's convicted, defense counsel "will have an appealable issue that could gain traction."

"The government's case on the (aiding the enemy) charge is circumstantial, and requires proof beyond a reason doubt."

Clear doubt exists. The charge is spurious. It's vicious. It's politically motivated. It doesn't wash. Legitimate judges would reject it.

At issue is finding them. In today's America, it's not easy. For Manning, it may be impossible. It bears repeating.

What judge will overrule the president and commander-in-chief? Who'd be bold enough to do it? Profiles in courage are scarce at all times. Perhaps for Manning, they're nonexistent.

Fidell added:

"Evidence that Pvt. Manning had been briefed on the reasons for security precautions could be key, but I'm not at all convinced the government carried its burden.”

"The sheer volume of the leaked documents does not, to my mind, constitute evidence of intent to aid the enemy."

"The unfortunate result of the judge's ruling is that if the appellate courts disagree with her, there will almost certainly have to be a rehearing on the sentence, and that could drag the case out further."

Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler testified for Manning. He called WikiLeaks "a legitimate journalistic organization."

It differs from conventional media in platform only.

"Once you accept that WikiLeaks is a new journalistic organization that can be read by anyone with an Internet connection…that essentially means that any leak to a media organization that can be read by any enemy anywhere in the world becomes automatically aiding the enemy."

Coombs urged Lind not to punish "people for getting information out to the press, to basically put…a hammer down on any whistleblower."

Prosecutors lied claiming bin Laden had access to WikiLeaks information Manning supplied. Impossible.

In December 2001, he died naturally. Major media reported it at the time. Conveniently they forgot. They claimed otherwise.

Obama's Abbottabad, Pakistan raid was a made for media proliferation stunt. It has nothing to do with killing bin Laden. Dead men don't die twice. Not even by presidential order.

Manning's trial began in June. Closing arguments could begin on Friday. Lind alone will rule. She could do so shortly after they end.

Once her verdict is announced, sentencing will follow. Manning pled guilty to 10 lesser charges. On those alone, he faces up to 20 years imprisonment.

At risk is far more than that. Manning faces longterm hard time. He does so unjustly. He deserves high praise for acting responsibly. Police states don't operate that way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen (at)

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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