Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Are We at War with . . . Iceland?

All the evidence of which I am aware points to Brad Manning having mishandled classified information when he provided it to the website Wikileaks.  But he is being charged with “aiding the enemy,” which sounds, I dunno, worse.

It would seem that the government ought to be required to show evidence that the enemy was, you know, aided by the leaked information.  But not only is the prosecution not doing that, but the judge in the case, Col. Denise Lind, has ruled that the defense will not be allowed to introduce the government’s own assessment that no such aid actually occurred.

I would also think the government should have to show evidence of intent to harm the national security, as opposed to merely reveal the myriad government collusions against the interests of the people.

8 comments:

Professor Hale said...

The fact that Al-Q did not exploit the documents Manning released does not exhonorate him from the obvious intent to aid them. Wars are fought in the political dimension more than in the military one. Thus, leaks of classified information that intentionally undermine the war effort are in fact aiding the enemy and intended to do so. This is self-evident.

The main lesson of Vietnam should be that it doesn't really matter how many enemies you kill in battle if you can get their politicians to surrender.

Misshandling is what happends when you lock something in your desk drawer when you go to lunch because you are too lazy to put it in your safe. Or it is on a laptop computer that gets stolen from the trunk of your car.

Deliberate releases of information are completely different. Further, manning released so many documents, that it was obvious he did not even know what he was releasing. He released whole files of information, not just documents that Free Americans needed to know to exercise proper oversight of their government.

Dr. Φ said...

manning released so many documents, that it was obvious he did not even know what he was releasing.

Which is kind of my point: such is not the action of somebody who set out to aid Al-Q. If the government has actual evidence, apart from mere assertion, to the contrary, then the court should see it.

Dexter said...

All you need to do to establish such intent is establish that AQ has access to the internet and reads Western newspapers.

Professor Hale said...

Very early in the war with Iraq, The US Army began a major canpaign to get soldiers to purge "war" information from their facebook accounts and blogs. We had evidence that Al-Q was indeed using soldiers personal accounts of battles and battle damage to improve their operations.

As an intelligence specialist, manning would have known that the enemy had access to the internet and would actively try to find exploitable information. Manning himself was a moron though and could not predict what information would be valuable to Al-Q. So he dumped everything he could get his hands on with a Secret label. It was only luck that Manning did not have access to anything really damaging, and would not have recognized it if he had.

But his actions, independent of the light consequences, are deserving of severe penalties. Rot in prison for a very long time seems appropriate.

Dr. Φ said...

Dexter: I'm writing of Manning's intent, not AQ's.

PH: I will stipulate that Manning should spend a long time in prison, in accordance with the law and the evidence presented. But simple assertions in the service of an ambitions prosecutor about Manning's state of mind are not evidence.

I will allow that Manning's having posted the classified information on WL makes establishing his intend more difficult. It correspondingly made it more difficult for AQ to profit from the information, as common sense predicts and actual experience indicates.

It may be that in the age of the internet and Wikileaks, the law is inadequate. I doubt this, since I don't see why WL should be treated any differently than, say, the NYT. But if so, the solution is to change the law, not pervert the plain meaning of existing laws because Obama happens to be president.

Professor Hale said...

I don't see your point here.

Manning is guilty of intentionally aiding the enemy in a time of war using all the clear meaning of those words and existing laws.

If he goes for the insanity defense, he has a chance, but the Psych community no longer recognizes homosexuality as a malady.

I don't know that any ambitious prosecutors are required in this case. And I doubt any in the military are smart enough to make that case using the plane language of the law. They will instead depend on the jurors to clearly understand what they were trying to say. The jurors in military courts, are smart enough to understand that Manning is guilty of something and needs strong punishment.

Doomfinger said...

What bothers me about this is that leaks happen all the time, many of them without any consequences at all. It is almost as if rank/political connections determines consequences...

Dr. Φ said...

Q: Has Manning made any statements in favor of AQ or indicating a desire to help AQ?

A: No. (Or I assume not, else we would have heard about them before now.)

Q: Did Manning provide the stolen secrets to AQ agents?

A: No. He provided them to Wikileaks, which has no known affiliation or contact with AQ.

Q: Did the secrets benefit AQ?

A: No, by the government's own reckoning.

Conclusion: "aiding the enemy" is the one thing of which Manning appears to be innocent, in intent and in fact.