Verdict on Private Manning case 9 replies

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Commissar MercZ

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#1 5 years ago

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/us/bradley-manning-verdict.html

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July 30, 2013 Manning Is Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy By CHARLIE SAVAGE FORT MEADE, Md. — A military judge on Tuesday found Pfc. Bradley Manning not guilty of “aiding the enemy” for his release of hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. But she convicted him of multiple counts of violating the Espionage Act, stealing government property and other charges that could result in a maximum sentence of 136 years.

In delivering the mixed verdict, the judge, Col. Denise Lind, pulled back from the government’s effort to create a precedent that press freedom specialists had warned could have broad consequences for the future of investigative journalism about national security in the Internet era.

Colonel Lind marched through a quick litany of the charges and specifications against Private Manning, 25, who stood quietly in his dress uniform as she spoke. She said she would issue findings later that would explain her ruling.

The sentencing phase in the court-martial will begin on Wednesday with more than 20 witnesses each for the prosecution and the defense. It could last weeks; there is no minimum sentence in the military justice system. Subsequent appeals could take years, legal specialists said.

Most reporters watched the proceedings from a closed-circuit feed in a filing center. One who was able to watch from inside the small courtroom here said Private Manning at first appeared relaxed when he entered the room, smiling and drinking from his water bottle. But as the hour drew near he grew more stoic, and he showed no emotion as Colonel Lind read her findings.

The aiding the enemy charge was the first in the list, and she said “not guilty.” But she quickly moved into a long list of guilty findings for the bulk of the remaining charges, including six counts of violating the Espionage Act, five of stealing government property, and one violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Each of those carries up to a 10-year sentence. She also found Private Manning guilty of various lesser charges, including multiple counts of disobeying orders.

But Colonel Lind accepted his lesser guilty pleas on two counts, one of which involved leaking a video of an American helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed a group of men.

She also found him not guilty of the charge that he had leaked a video of an airstrike in Afghanistan in which numerous civilians had died in late 2009; Private Manning had admitted leaking it, but said he did so in the spring of 2010, after the date listed in the charge.

WikiLeaks, in a Twitter post, called the Espionage Act convictions “a very serious new precedent for supplying information to the press.”

Still, Yochai Benkler, a Harvard law professor who testified in Private Manning’s defense, praised the judge for making an “extremely important decision” to reject the aiding the enemy charge and thereby deny “the prosecution’s effort to launch the most dangerous assault on investigative journalism and the free press in the area of national security that we have seen in decades.”

But he said that the potential decades of imprisonment Private Manning still faces remains a major blow to “leakers and whistle-blowers,” and that the prospect of decades of imprisonment “is still too high a price for any democracy to demand of its whistle-blowers.”

Steve Aftergood, the director of the project on government secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, called the outcome “a weighty verdict that the prosecution would count as a win,” but argued that the “larger significance of the case” may be limited.

“The unauthorized disclosures that Manning committed were completely unprecedented in their scope and volume,” he said. “Most investigative journalism does not involve the wholesale publication of confidential records, so the impact of these verdicts on working journalists may be confined. It’s not good news for journalism, but it’s not the end of the world either.”

Months before the trial, which began in June, Private Manning had already confessed to being WikiLeaks’ source for some 700,000 files that vaulted the organization into global fame three years ago. They included videos of airstrikes in which civilians were killed; front-line incident reports from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars; dossiers on men being held without trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; and about 250,000 diplomatic cables.

But the government was determined to press forward with the more serious charges against him. Because most of the facts in the case were not in dispute, the trial raised the more abstract question of how to understand what Private Manning had done.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors sought to portray him as an “anarchist” and a “traitor” who recklessly endangered lives and betrayed his country out of a desire to “make a splash.” The defense portrayed him as a young, naïve, but good-intentioned humanist who wanted to prompt debate and who avoided releasing documents that could cause harm.

Hours before the verdict, about two dozen supporters of Private Manning gathered at the main gate to Fort Meade, some wearing T-shirts that said “truth.” They displayed signs to traffic with messages like “whistle-blowers keep us honest” and “thank you Bradley Manning.”

Ben Wizner, director of the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project for the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed relief that Private Manning was acquitted of the “most dangerous charge” brought against him, but criticized the espionage charges.

“While we’re relieved that Mr. Manning was acquitted of the most dangerous charge, the A.C.L.U. has long held the view that leaks to the press in the public interest should not be prosecuted under the Espionage Act,” he said. “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.”

Gregg Leslie, the legal defense director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the Espionage Act convictions — a charge that covers not spying but releasing defense information that could cause harm — were not surprising but were still alarming, given that the information released was important for public debate.

“We always hate to see a government employee who was trying to publicize wrongdoing convicted of a crime, but this case was unusual from the start because of the scope of his release,” he said. “Because of Manning’s obligations as a government employee, it almost would have been more of a surprise if the government had not won on an Espionage Act count.”

Still, he added: “Whistle-blowers always know they are taking risks, and the more they reveal the bigger the threat is against them. But we know they are not betraying the government. And when they contribute vital information to an important public debate, it should not be a crime — especially the kind of crime that sends you to jail for the rest of your life.”

Private Manning is one of seven people who have been charged with leaking information to the press for public consumption under the Obama administration. Under all previous presidents combined, there were only three such cases.

While Manning was not convicted of his most dangerous charge, Aiding the Enemy, he has been charged on several other counts, according to the article "six counts of violating the Espionage Act, five of stealing government property, and one violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act", and some other disclipine-related charges from the military. If each charge taken at its maximum penalty he faces over 100 years of imprisionment, but of course the final amount will likely be smaller and will be announced tomorrow when Manning is sentenced by the court.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#2 5 years ago

And the scapegoating continues. :/

I think I expressed, closer to the time, that:

A) The people mostly to blame for this are those who failed to implement basic opsec. You simply shouldn't be able to copy all those files without special perms. It's not that hard to enforce either.

B) Manning's life is effectively over. Assume he gets ten years that's the majority of his youth gone, he'll be competing with people for jobs who haven't done ten years, and he'll have the reputation of being untrustworthy with information....

It almost doesn't matter what he gets at this point. Life without a job, especially in somewhere that doesn't have much of a welfare system....

C) The scope of what counts as classified information has expanded beyond all bounds of sanity.

Do I agree with what he did? Well, not really. I think if I had more faith in the American public to hold their rulers to account I might. But, as is, he just comes off to me as an idiot.




Roaming East

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#3 5 years ago

Opsec's weakest link is that no matter HOW classified some information is, or who is SUPPOSED to see it, it must ALWAYS travel into the hands of an underling to get filed or sorted.

Only way to stop that from occuring is for people high in the chain to do the leg work themselves and theres no chance of that happening.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#4 5 years ago

Well, encryption gives you the option of strongly enforcing underlings being unable to open the file. And you can enforce the inability to do certain procedures, like copying, and flag any patterns of procedures that underlings can do that look suspicious for review by a human.

I guess it depends how much info, and what patterns of access, the underlings actually need to do their jobs. Certainly the stuff Manning did, which sounds like, "I stuck a disk in the drive and dragged the files across." shouldn't be possible.




Roaming East

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#5 5 years ago

Nemmerle;5709678Well, encryption gives you the option of strongly enforcing underlings being unable to open the file. And you can enforce the inability to do certain procedures, like copying, and flag any patterns of procedures that underlings can do that look suspicious for review by a human.

I guess it depends how much info, and what patterns of access, the underlings actually need to do their jobs. Certainly the stuff Manning did, which sounds like, "I stuck a disk in the drive and dragged the files across." shouldn't be possible.

And the guy who installs that software and updates your systems is still an E-5 from the local Comm squadron. Trust me, i worked CENTAF top sec UAV operations for 2 years. Same dog and pony show. No matter HOW secret any piece of information is, it still gets entrusted to a low level nobody at its weakest point.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#6 5 years ago

I'd have thought that'd a fixed target though. I mean if I were having something that controlled... a drone say... installed, then I'd have someone else come along and check it afterwards. It shouldn't just be one person's word, that'd be silly. What are the odds that everyone who validates the system are traitors?




Commissar MercZ

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#7 4 years ago

Closing statements have been delivered, including an apology from Manning on this (after having admitted to most of the charges back when the trial opened), starting tomorrow (Tuesday) the Judge will begin considering the length of the sentence for Manning. His defense lawyers request leniency, while the chief prosecutor states that "he deserves to spend the majority of his remaining life in prison" due to his actions.

Lawyers for WikiLeaker Manning ask judge not to 'rob him of his youth' | Reuters

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(Reuters) - Attorneys for Bradley Manning, the soldier found guilty of turning over 700,000 classified U.S. files to WikiLeaks, called on a military judge on Monday to sentence him to a term that "doesn't rob him of his youth," rather than the 60 years urged by prosecutors.

Manning, 25, was working as a low-level intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2010 when he committed the largest unauthorized release of secret documents in U.S. history, catapulting pro-transparency website WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, into the international spotlight.

"Perhaps his biggest crime was that he cared about the loss of life and that he couldn't ignore it," defense attorney David Coombs said during closing arguments of the sentencing part of Manning's court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland.

"This court has had a year and half to see the conduct of PFC Manning. He's a little geeky at times. But he's caring, he's compassionate," Coombs said. "This is a young man who is capable of being redeemed. We should not rob him of his youth."

Earlier on Monday, prosecutor Captain Joe Morrow told Judge Colonel Denise Lind, "He betrayed the United States."

"For that betrayal he deserves to spend the majority of his remaining life in prison," Morrow said.

In July, Lind found the Army private first class guilty of 20 criminal charges including espionage, which carry a possible prison sentence of up to 90 years. She found him not guilty of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, which could have carried a penalty of life in prison without parole.

Prosecuting attorneys contended during the trial that when Manning turned over the secret documents he had put national security, including overseas intelligence operatives, at risk. They argued and witnesses testified that the slightly built soldier had hoped to spark a broader debate on the role of the U.S. military.

According to defense testimony during the trial, military supervisors ignored bizarre acts by Manning that included trying to grab a gun during a counseling session. Defense attorneys had argued that such actions showed Manning was not fit for duty overseas.

Morrow argued that the military was not to blame for Manning's actions.

"It wasn't the military's fault. It wasn't because he saw something horrible. It was because he had an agenda. It matters that he took an oath and he knowingly broke it," Morrow said. "The Army didn't abandon PFC Manning. PFC Manning abandoned the Army."

On Tuesday, Judge Lind is expected to begin deliberating the length of Manning's sentence, which will likely be served in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Manning's trial is winding down at the same time the United States is seeking the return of Edward Snowden, a former CIA contractor who disclosed details of a number of secret U.S. programs that included monitoring Americans' telephone and Internet traffic. Snowden has been given temporary asylum in Russia.

Manning has won support from some Americans for his acts, with one rights group saying he should be a candidate for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Earlier this year, Manning pleaded guilty to lesser charges but military prosecutors continued their effort to convict him on more serious counts.

Manning addressed the court last Wednesday, telling the judge he was "sorry" for his actions.

"I understand I must pay a price for my decisions," he said.

(Editing by Ian Simpson, Scott Malone, Toni Reinhold)




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#8 4 years ago

He's got 35 years. Poor bastard will be an old man when he gets out.




Commissar MercZ

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#9 4 years ago
Nemmerle;5710883He's got 35 years. Poor bastard will be an old man when he gets out.

Yeah, it sucks for him. It falls short of the 60+ the government was requesting through the prosecutor. Unfortunately the judge gave the sentence without specifying how much she gave individually for each charge. It seems to be a downer for the defense after having already filed a plea bargain and the government being unable to show that Manning acted with any malice or aided the enemy. What we do know is that Manning's leaks, especially the collateral damage vids, really gave the US a blackeye and now with the mess with Snowden, they do want to send a message to others who might get thoughts about leaking info.

He's eligible for parole in 10 years, 7 since they credit Manning for the nearly 3 years he's been in detention. He's also been demoted and will get a dishonorable discharge upon finishing his sentence in military prison (which in effect forfeits any benefits he'd receive as a soldier). In a way Manning got hit harder than what some violent offenders receive.




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#10 4 years ago

Huffington Post says he's been given 5 more years than a man who sold secrets on US defense systems to Communist East Germany...