Verdict a blow to free flow
of information in the U.S.
Bradley Manning faces life in prison for leaking documents to WikiLeaks.
THE VERDICT IN THE TRIAL of Bradley Manning, super-leaker to the WikiLeaks whistleblower web site, was not totally predictable. However, it is still a grave miscarriage of justice.
Manning is not a spy; he is a whistleblower.
The espionage charges are ridiculous and should have been dismissed.
In the great American tradition of open government, this is one of its darkest moments.
Daniel Ellsberg, the most famous whistleblower of all time for his role in the 1971 Pentagon Papers case, has been one of the most outspoken supporters of Manning since the Army private was first taken into custody three years ago, and tortured.
If Ellsberg realizes what a blow this verdict is to the free flow of information in out country, then we should all take notice.
Manning still could spend much of the rest of his young life in prison. He is only 26 years old.
WHAT IS PERHAPS most unfortunate is that Manning’s defense was less than stellar.
The government’s key witness in the case, Adrian Lamo, lacked credibility at best; at worst, he was delusional.
But his testimony was never challenged. I blogged about it July 19 in “Judge’s ruling could send Bradley Manning to prison forever”
Adrian Lamo, a key witness in the trial of Bradley Manning.
In a documentary broadcast in 2011 on Australian television, Lamo confessed to serious mental health problems. In fact just the week before the crucial online chats with Manning – that formed the centerpiece of the prosecution case – Lamo was confined to a mental institution.
Lamo’s testimony about the chat logs is highly questionable; but it was never challenged in court.
Not that even this would have changed the outcome.
The deck was stacked against Manning from the start. He has been relentlessly persecuted as a traitor – but to many, he is a hero. With the latter, I agree.
BUT THE EFFECTS OF THE TRIAL and verdict go beyond one individual.
They have already had serious consequences for journalism in America.
Because of Manning’s persecution we can never know how many sources have not come forward for fear of being persecuted.
And, therefore, it is unknowable how many stories of major public importance have gone unreported.
This is a sad day for the U.S., the American people and the freedom of the press in the self-described bastion of free speech.
Let us all wish Manning the strengths he needs to overcome his time of trial.
Perhaps history will be kind to Manning’s legacy.
It is one of a great public service.