Bradley Manning | Military | News

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

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.

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  1. Hopefully this traitor is stuck in jail for a LONG, long time.

    Posted by: simon82 | Jul 30, 2013 4:50:22 PM

  2. 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!!!!!

    Posted by: SamIam | Jul 30, 2013 4:52:30 PM

  3. 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.

    Posted by: Michael | Jul 30, 2013 5:31:21 PM

  4. 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

    Posted by: Felix | Jul 30, 2013 6:04:26 PM

  5. I think he ought to be promoted !

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 30, 2013 6:10:13 PM

  6. @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.

    Posted by: Bill | Jul 30, 2013 7:04:33 PM

  7. @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.

    Posted by: northalabama | Jul 30, 2013 7:37:37 PM

  8. @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.

    Posted by: Bill | Jul 30, 2013 9:10:08 PM

  9. To the editor - Your headline at the top of the main page doesn't include the word "NOT" and reads:


    Posted by: Editrix | Jul 31, 2013 3:13:20 AM

  10. 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?

    Posted by: DannyEastVillage | Jul 31, 2013 7:14:19 AM

  11. 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.

    Posted by: DannyEastVillage | Jul 31, 2013 7:16:25 AM

  12. @ 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?

    Posted by: DannyEastVillage | Jul 31, 2013 7:23:45 AM

  13. Danny - you are joking, right?

    Posted by: Hagatha | Jul 31, 2013 12:52:22 PM

  14. @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.

    Posted by: Bill | Jul 31, 2013 1:16:09 PM

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