UPDATED: Bradley Manning Found NOT GUILTY Of Aiding The Enemy, GUILTY Of Most Other Counts

Bradley_Manning_US_Army
Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier responsible for what is considered the largest leak of classified documents in United States history, was found not guilty of "aiding the enemy". Manning already faces up to 20 years for charges to which he has already pled guilty. The charge of "aiding the enemy", which was the most severe of the 21 counts Manning faced today, typically carries with it a life sentence. While Manning managed to avoid the "aiding the enemy charge" today, he has been found guilty of 5 espionage counts and 5 theft counts, one computer fraud count, and other military infractions, making for 19 counts in all. It is not yet clear how severe a penalty those counts carry, although, as was noted by the Huffington Post, Manning's total guilty charges could land him up to more than 100 years in prison.

Manning has been on trial since June 3, and is scheduled to be sentenced tomorrow.

With Edward Snowden and other "whistleblowers" making headlines in recent months, the Manning verdict already brings with it even more debate and controversy with some calling him a "hero" and others a "traitor". Further controversy has erupted over Manning's years in solitary confinement, and his apparent physical condition after the fact. According to his lawyer, David Coombs, Manning repeatedly suffered from inhumane treatment. According to Coombs' blog, he was "forced to stand naked at parade rest where he was in view of multiple guards" and was "required to wear a heavy and restrictive suicide smock which irritated his skin and, on one occasion, almost choked him." He subsequently referred to the punishment as "unlawful". Coombs' revelation only emboldened Manning's supporters, including celebrated whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, who hailed him as a champion of government transparency. Meanwhile, Manning's detractors, including the Obama administration, had no trouble branding him as a threat to the U.S. and its interest. Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated publicly that the leaks "threatened the lives of Americans and damaged foreign relationships."

Danchoi-screenManning's story also sparked heated debate within the LGBT community, due to the fact that his sexual orientation and struggles with gender identity reportedly played into his motives for the leaks in the first place. Manning served during some of the final months of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", the controversial military policy that previously barred LGBT soldiers from serving openly. According to Gawker, during many of Manning's correspondences with ex-hacker Adrian Lamo, he confessed to experiencing repeated turmoil over his gender identity. Also, many of the "likes" displayed on Manning's social network profiles were LGBT-related. His defense team attempted to use that fact in his defense, stating that, due to Manning's reported struggle, coupled with the hostile environment of DADT, placed him in a mental state that made him unfit to handle classified documents in the first place. Many of Manning's supporters were also members of the LGBT community, including gay activist Lt. Dan Choi and straight allies such as Rosanne Barr, Russell Brand, and Oliver Stone.

Manning was also briefly appointed grand marshall of the San Francisco Pride Parade earlier this year, a point that was hailed by some and decried by others. Parade organizers opted to change their minds later on, citing a "rogue member of the board" as the source of the original appointment. 

Manning ProtestsNow that Manning's verdict has been released, reactions have started pouring in from various entities. Widney Brown, senior director of international law and policy at Amnesty International, told the Huffington Post that "we're obviously relieved that he wasn't sentenced on the most serious charges when there was no evidence to convict him." Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, added:

"While we're relieved that Mr. Manning was acquitted of the most dangerous charge, the ACLU has long held the view that leaks to the press in the public interest should not be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Since Manning already pleaded guilty to charges of leaking information – which carry significant punishment – it seems clear that the government was seeking to intimidate anyone who might consider revealing valuable information in the future."

According to CNN, Manning himself appeared to be relieved upon hearing the verdict, even smiling after he heard the decision. 

At least one demonstration has been planned to express solidarity for Manning and his actions later today. The San Diego Coalition to Free Manning has announced today that they will be holding a "RISE UP Rally" at 5 PM " at 6th Ave & University Ave in Hillcrest." Accoding to the group's press release:

"The rally will include banners, chanting, many local speakers, as well as an open mic for the public to share their concerns. 'Manning hoped the revelations would inspire debate and reform. Our aim is to assist our hero in this shared mission,' said Sean Bohac of SAME Alliance. 'We hope that people see that this has not been a fair trial, and that Bradley Manning did a just and heroic thing, organizing these actions helps spark important debate about the failure of the Obama administration to be on the side of freedom and justice.'"

Updates will be posted as the story develops.

Comments

  1. The Milkman says

    Good news. Manning should have been released a long time ago, and of course we’re not even mentioning how he’s been treated in prison.

  2. JP says

    I’m not being snarky here, but why do we care about this guy to be getting constant updates? Is he gay? Someone we find hot? I’m a bit lost.

  3. northalabama says

    @milkman, i don’t think he will be released any time soon. he can be sentenced up to 20 years just for what he’s admitted guilt, not to mention the new convictions.

    glad to hear the internet won’t implode due to the aiding the enemy ruling, though. sounds like another case of over-charging.

  4. Bill Perdue says

    Brad Manning is now more than ever a hero of the Gay and Antiwar movements.

    He started out as a soldier who took his oath to uphold the Constitution seriously. He tried to end the illegal US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to do what he could to prevent the murders of more civilians and GI’s by the US military murder machine.

    For that he was arrested, tortured by a malicious and resentful Obama Administration. And now he’s been convicted of taking honest steps to end the murder, ironically on the date of the first whistleblower law in US history, passed on July 30, 1778 and stating that it was the ” duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other the inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by an officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge.”

    EV Debs, founder of my union, socialist and anti-war hero was also convicted of trying to end the reign of terror by the US military murder machine by another right wing Democrat, Wilson, who like Obama, posed as a ‘progressive’ and later betrayed those who voted for him.

    At the end of his trial Debs said “Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

    Manning, a hero to those for fight for justice – Democrats and Republicans are not included – is not alone.

  5. Matt says

    He committed serious crimes and I don’t take pride in the fact that he is gay. He revealed national security secrets that were kept to protect our lives and the lives of those around us. I don’t understand the movement to support him.

  6. K says

    Hey Matt,

    he released gross injustices of human rights undertaken by the US Government. He didn’t leak security secrets. It’s already been proven that WikiLeaks has not caused any breach of national security.

    People support him because his country claims to be the land of the free and home of the brave but they treat their dissidents/patriots worse than China or Russia or Iran.

  7. AdamK says

    Plead, pleaded.
    Plead is present tense. Past tense is pleaded.
    If you want to make up “pled” (by analogy with lead, led) please at least spell it p-l-e-d so the reader knows what the hell you’re doing.
    “Plead” as past tense just doesn’t work at all.

  8. Mike says

    ” treat their dissidents/patriots worse than China or Russia or Iran ”
    What planet do you live on? He was given a trial. In any of those countries they’d have just shot him. Worse?????!!!??? LOL!

  9. LincolnLounger says

    One doesn’t voluntarily go into the military if one wants to be a political activist.

    I hope the scum rots in prison forever. It makes me sick that anybody could prop this traitor up as some sort of a gay hero. Revolting.

  10. Ryan says

    Matt, he released info that never should have been kept secret in the first place and could do no harm but to embarrass our government for its actions or alert our public to its criminality.

  11. northalabama says

    i have no problem with manning releasing evidence of wrongdoing. i have no problem with him serving time in prison after releasing the info, either.

    he knew the price he’d pay, the cost of doing what he did before he did it, and he freely admitted his guilt. not many surprises here. there won’t be many with snowden’s trial, either.

  12. Belthazar says

    Interesting perspective from HP poster:

    “Now, if you would dare allow yourself to just take a “peek” at reality, just take a peek. Then come back and tell me if you think the destruction of this young man’s life was worth it?

    Was it worth it for you to glory in your naïve praising of the crimes he committed? Is it worth it for you to encourage other young people to throw their lives away just so you can say “we showed them, didn’t we”?

    This is the real world. This is the world Manning will live in while incarcerated for a very long time while you drive your free life wherever you want to go. This is not some game. This boy’s life is over. You can protest, you can rant and rave all you want but Manning is through.

    In the meantime Greenwald and Assange will live in laps of luxuries, enjoying all the money they have made off of these woefully naïve young men…”

  13. says

    If he had been convicted of “aiding the enemy” then any person posting anything on the internet could be implicated as “aiding the enemy.” Any political statement could be construed as such.

  14. jtramon says

    While Manning most likely should be in jail for a period of time, the problem I have with this article is the reference to Dan Choi. PLEASE, let’s not give him anymore ink. He’s a disgrace.

  15. anon says

    Aiding the enemy was tossed in because the administration took his actions personally, but it never made sense in the context of precedent and what we know about the case. Aiding the enemy is very specific, despite what a lot of commentators would have you believe. You simply can’t be charged for incidental or non-causal aid. A lot of talking heads seemed to want to wildly expand the definition of the charge against all precedent and they were pretending that’s the way it always was, when they should have known better. Fortunately, the judge knew the case-law well enough to acquit on the charge.

    He got tagged for a lot of nearly pointless technical charges like computer fraud, which while probably correct under the letter of the law, don’t mount to a hill of beans in the wider context. I suppose because there is little precedent they were hoping the sentencing in this area would be very harsh.

    The espionage charge was a stretch. Espionage requires that certain “operators” are in place, and they seemed to be missing here. The press is not technically a recipient operator in espionage, but the law is so vague here that the charge stuck. Probably time to review the law itself.

    The basic charge should have been dereliction of duty. Why they didn’t go that route is a mystery.

  16. Frank2014 says

    Manning is not gay. “She” identifies as transgender. No surprise whatsoever that a transgender would turn out to be mentally and emotionally unstable.

    And remember, 99.9% of what this tranny leaked had nothing to do with any war or any alleged wrongdoing. They were diplomatic cables, representing exactly what civilized countries should be doing – communicating and working out their disputes peacefully. Manning attacked diplomacy and thus undermined alternatives to war. All to help “her” deal with the demons of being a tranny.

  17. SamIam says

    WHAT GOOD did this guy do, other than make the lives of foreign service personnel that much harder???

    I have a GAY friend at the state dept. who said this was a nightmare and Manning just made their jobs that much more DANGEROUS for them, especially field agents in other countries.

    Have fun in jail for the next 20 years!!!!!

  18. Michael says

    Frank, you ARE welcome here! Thank you for speaking out about trans activism. Trans activists don’t care about gay people. They don’t care about gay soldiers serving honorably. They only care about themselves. And they always seek to silence those who disagree.

    Keep speaking out.

  19. Felix says

    He helped to show this to the world> he’s a hero because he had the balls to reveal the atrocities of war in the name of oil, *cough I mean freedom.

    Dont forget

  20. Bill says

    @simon82 (and others): Manning is not a traitor, defined as one who commits treason. Treason is defined in the U.S Constitution as follows: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” Aid, BTW, has to be intentional, not something that accidentally aids an enemy. If you do something with the intention of benefiting the U.S. and it ends up helping an enemy of the U.S. instead, you cannot be convicted of treason according to U.S. law.

  21. northalabama says

    @bill – yes, he is a traitor imho, and many agree with me. your limited definition of the word traitor is way too narrow.

    he could also be a hero – it’s possible to be both, at the same time.

  22. Bill says

    @northalabama: if you don’t like the U.S. Consitution, you can always ask that it be amended.

    It’s not “my definition”. Rather, it’s what U.S. law actually states. BTW, when they convicted the Rosenbergs for helping to give the Soviet Union classified information about U.S. nuclear weapons, they were not tried for treason, nor were they guilty of it, because at the time they did it, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were technically allies – World War II was still in progress. They were tried and executed for espionage instead.

  23. Editrix says

    To the editor – Your headline at the top of the main page doesn’t include the word “NOT” and reads:

    MANNING VERDICT: MANNING FOUND GUILTY ON MOST COUNTS, NOT AIDING THE ENEMY CHARGE

  24. DannyEastVillage says

    If it doesn’t “aid the enemy” how can it be espionage? who did it aid? the people of the US by letting us know about our government and military excesses and abuses?

    And that’s supposed to be a crime?

  25. DannyEastVillage says

    In another generation there will be hand-wringing on the part of public officials about how badly Manning was treated and a monument will be erected somewhere and we’ll call him a hero. Just like Rosa Parks, MLK, Daniel Ellsberg, blahbahblah. It’s so sickening that this young man will never see the light of day again.

  26. DannyEastVillage says

    @ Marshall: that’s a really good point. North materially aided our adversaries and is STILL a hero to conservatives. This young man sought to strengthen our citizenry’s constitutional protections and he–is guilty of espionage? How can it be “espionage” if he didn’t “aid” our enemy?

  27. Bill says

    @DannyEastVillage: you can be convicted of espionage for spying on behalf of the U.K., but not for aiding the enemy as the U.K. is not our enemy.

    Given how Manning was allegedly treated, the decent thing to do would be to count the time he has already been in jail, multiplied by an abuse factor, and have that count towards his sentence. And then try the people who abused him.

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