Bradley Manning not guilty of ‘aiding the enemy’, convicted on 19 other counts

freebradleyFrom Corporate Media

An Army judge on Tuesday acquitted Pfc. Bradley Manning of aiding the enemy by disclosing a trove of secret U.S. government documents, a striking rebuke to military prosecutors who argued that the largest leak in U.S. history had assisted al-Qaeda.

The judge, Col. Denise Lind, found Manning guilty of most of the more than 20 crimes he was charged with. She also acquitted him of one count of the espionage act that stemmed from his leak of a video that depicted a fatal U.S. military airstrike in Farah, Afghanistan.

Bradley Manning arrived at court to hear the verdict in his military espionage and aiding the enemy trial at Fort Meade Tuesday. Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy.

The eight-week trial offered a gripping account of Manning’s transformation from a shy soldier who deployed to Baghdad as an intelligence analyst in 2009 to a mole for the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which disclosed more than 700,000 documents Manning gathered.Had Manning been convicted of aiding the enemy, Manning would have faced a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole. Civil libertarians saw the prospect of a conviction on that charge, which has not been used since the Civil War, as a dangerous precedent that could have would have sent an unmistakable message to would-be government whistle-blowers.

“The heart of this matter is the level of culpability,” said retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, a former chief prosecutor at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He noted that Manning has already pled guilty to some charges and admitted leaking secret documents that he felt exposed wartime misdeeds. “Beyond that is government overreach.”

If found guilty of all charges, including aiding the enemy, Manning would face a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The planned announcement of the verdict follows an eight-week trial at Fort Meade in Maryland, where military prosecutors argued that Manning, 25, betrayed his oath and his country, and assisted al-Qaeda because the terrorist group was able to access secret material once WikiLeaks posted it.

Hours before the verdict, about two dozen Manning supporters demonstrated outside Fort Meade wearing “truth” T-shirts and waving signs proclaiming their admiration for the former intelligence analyst, the Associated Press reported.

“He wasn’t trying to aid the enemy,” said Barbara Bridges, 43, of Baltimore. “He was trying to give people the information they need so they can hold their government accountable.”

As dozens of journalists were admitted to the installation amid tight security, dogs trained to sniff out explosives searched their vehicles before they were escorted to a media room where the court proceedings were to be broadcast live on a screen.

The government’s pursuit of the charge of aiding the enemy under a theory that had not been used since the Civil War troubled civil libertarians and press-freedom advocates. They said the publication of secret defense information online could expose any leaker to life in prison and will chill press scrutiny of the military.

The government relied on a case from the Civil War to bring the charge: In that trial, a Union Army private, Henry Vanderwater, was found guilty of aiding the enemy when he leaked a Union roster to an Alexandria newspaper. Vanderwater received a sentence of three months hard labor and was dishonorably discharged.

Manning has pleaded guilty to a number of lesser charges, including unauthorized possession of information relating to the national defense.

The sentencing phase of the trial at Fort Meade outside Baltimore would begin Wednesday, if Manning is convicted. If there is a conviction, the prosecution is expected to press the judge, Col. Denise Lind, to impose the maximum sentence. The government would present in a closed session of the court the classified damage assessments conducted by government agencies after the disclosures by WikiLeaks.

Bradley Manning arrived at court to hear the verdict in his military espionage and aiding the enemy trial at Fort Meade Tuesday. Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy.

Defense attorney David Coombs would also be able to offer mitigating evidence about Manning’s motives and his state of mind when he turned the material over to the group.

Manning would be likely to serve any sentence at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Manning, of Crescent, Okla., enlisted in the Army in October 2007, hoping to fund his college education through the G.I. Bill. He trained as an all-source intelligence analyst at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y.

The military said Manning’s service was troubled from the start. He took more time than usual to pass basic training and struggled to connect with fellow soldiers. In October 2009, Manning’s unit was deployed to Iraq, where as part of his assignment he was able to access classified networks containing military and diplomatic documents.

In closing arguments last week, Maj. Ashden Fein, a military prosecutor, said Manning had disregarded the “sensitivity” of the material he leaked and “decided to release it to a bunch of anti-government activists and anarchists to achieve maximum exposure, the maximum exposure, and advance his personal quest for notoriety.”

Coombs has argued that Manning grew increasingly disturbed by the violence in Iraq and that his objective in copying secret documents while at a forward operating base there and leaking them to WikiLeaks was to “spark a worldwide discussion.” During the past two years of proceedings, Coombs has portrayed Manning as both naive and “well-intentioned.”

On Feb. 3, 2010, Manning turned over a trove of documents that became known as the War Logs to WikiLeaks. He attached a note: “This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war, and revealing the true nature of the 21st century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day.”

After that transmission, Manning developed a more robust relationship with WikiLeaks, passing on more than 700,000 documents and other material to the Web site, including video of an Apache helicopter engaging what the pilots believed were armed fighters in Baghdad. WikiLeaks called it “Collateral Murder.” Eleven people were killed in the incident, including an unarmed Reuters news agency photographer and his driver.

Manning developed an online relationship with a person believed to be Julian Assange, one of the founders of WikiLeaks.

“We conversed on a near daily basis, and I felt we were developing a friendship,” said Manning in a statement in March. “The conversations covered many topics and I enjoyed the ability to talk about pretty much anything, and not just the publications that the WLO (WikiLeaks) was working on.”

Manning was arrested in Iraq in May 2010 and transferred to the brig at Marine Corps Base Quantico in July 2010. He was kept alone in a windowless six-by-eight-foot cell 23 hours a day and forced while on suicide watch to sleep in a “suicide smock.”

In March 2011, after eight months of confinement, Manning quipped sarcastically that he could kill himself with the elastic of his underwear if he wanted to.

Lind ruled in January that any sentence the Army private receives should be reduced by 112 days because of his mistreatment in confinement.

2 Comments

  1. Jeff Nguyen

    In the end, a max sentence would be a de facto life sentence. Shameful news, Manning is a prisoner of conscience. Where are the human rights groups speaking out on Manning’s behalf?

  2. Mandy Beach

    What Inmates are Costing $$$$$ North Carolinian’s $$$$$ Due to the lack ofknowledge, there are citizens who do not realize or even have a clue how muchmoney $$$$$ the inmate population is costing taxpayers. Yes, they are in prisonfor breaking the law, but it is our responsibility to take care of them. Let’stalk about some of these responsibilities. To begin with, let’s discuss medicalissues. If medical issues such as beingproperly diagnosed or administering proper treatment are not handled at thefacilities, it cost $$$$$. Doctors at facilities who at times order MRI’s orother major testing have to put in a request to the Pended Utilization ReviewBoard (which at this time we do not know who is on the board or if there areDoctors on the board) in Raleigh that can take up to 6 months or longer forthe ok to come back. In the meantime inmates can and do get sicker and may haveto be taken to the nearest hospital, again this cost $$$$$. This occurs due toinmates not getting the proper medication as needed. Plus at times when theoutside Doctors order certain things, the facilities take it upon themselves tonot carry out what is ordered due to the cost $$$$$, etc. And Again, the inmatemay have to be taken to an outside facility for emergency care $$$$$. Next,let’s dialogue about inmate’s food. Food, by the way is an important issue. Most inmates care about how theyare getting fed. Large populations of them have to deal with such concerns ashow it is prepared. There are concerns mainly about their food being cookedproperly and served hot. Inmates in solitaryconfinement complain that their food is always cold, even though food servicessays the carts are supposed to be plugged in so the food is hot at all times.However, the facilities don’t always follow procedures. The reason facilitiesdo not follow the meal plan implemented by Food Services is because thefacilities put the cost $$$$$ of the food before the inmates. Inmatesthat are in solitary confinement are not allowed canteen, but according toNCDPS policy & procedure inmates in control status can purchase a radio, awatch, shower shoes, batteries, postage stamps, and over the countermedication. Yet, they are not allowed to purchase any drinks are eatableproducts, or packages from UnionSupply Direct. Accordingto policy and procedure, food is not supposed to be used as punishment butlockup inmates are being denied canteen and the seasonal packages. Thesepackages are paid for by family and friends, they do not affect the state’sbudget at all neither does the canteen. As a matter of fact, inmate purchases from the canteen, contribute tothe state. Could this possibly be considered a violation of inmates’ rights bywithholding food from them? Is the punishment of being in solitary confinementfor 23 hours a day the only consequence? Otherwise, why are the inmates on solitaryconfinement being violated by the withholding of certain foods? According topolicy and procedure this shouldn’t be! Inmates are allowed to receive 4packages per year in NC and most inmates order nothing but food. Seasonalpackages on the contrary are considered a privilege; therefore inmates in anytype of solitary confinement are not allowed to get these. We should take acloser look at the boundaries of this fine line that’s not very clear-cut tosome—the state’s definition of a privilege verses an inmate being denied aright! Additionally,there are numerous other concerns that our state has pertaining to the inmatepopulation. I will briefly comment on a few more of them: Dentalcare is another issue that can be costly $$$$$ to taxpayers. Here’s an examplewhy, if an inmate has infection from his/her teeth and/or mouth, this can manytimes become a serious medical issue. $$$$$. AirConditioning and Heating cost more $$$$ when they are not properly maintainedby facilities. With no working A/C, inmates can and do pass out due to having aheat stroke. Again, it becomes a medical issue and more $$$$$. Heating unitsthat are not properly maintained can cause inmates to get sick too and become amedical issue, which means—more $$$$$. Now inNY prison systems, families and friends are being allowed to purchase clothing,shoes, coats, socks, and toiletry items for inmates to help cut down the cost ofup keep on the state. I believe NC should adopt this as well; our state needsinmates’ families and friends to be able to help more. What’s your opinion about that?

    Mandy Beach Spiritual Blessings today and always for you and yours. mandybeachansws4@aol.com Getting Answers 4 U(state inmate advocacy group) Citizens Volunteering P.O. Box 13334 Greensboro, NC 27405-6940

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