“Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal.”
-Senator Barack Obama, 2008, then a presidential candidate.
When Glenn Greenwald, the gay Guardian columnist featured in this week’s SFGN, wrote about Bradley Manning in December of 2011, he argued that the prosecution of the whistleblower was “an exercise in intimidation, not justice.”
Subject to intense solitary confinement, held for over three years, forced at times to stand nude for inspection after his clothing was seized, the gay soldier was found not guilty yesterday of the most serious charges against him, that he “aided the enemy,” a charge which carried the death penalty.
From the outset, Private First Class Manning stood by his contention that leaking this classified information to the public would start a healthy national domestic debate on the role of the military and U.S. foreign policy.
Earlier this year, on February 28, Manning pled guilty to some of the lesser charges of leaking the information. Yesterday, Judge Lind found Manning guilty of 19 more charges for that effort to inform the American people of the policies pursued in their name.
Amongst the charges that Manning had pled guilty to was his leaking of a video showing a U.S. Apache helicopter in Baghdad gunning down civilians and a Reuters journalist. The proceeding will now immediately enter a sentencing phase, with more witnesses testifying for both sides. He could still go to jail for life.
Most importantly, from the outset Private Manning contended “I want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are…because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” He leaked materials, which exposed American atrocities in a foreign war.
Lind first had refused to throw out charges — including the aiding the enemy charge — which Manning’s defense argued the government had not substantiated.
However, with the standard of evidence different after a trial than during a pre trial motion, Lind found Manning not guilty of “aiding the enemy,” the most serious charge.
Nevertheless, Manning has still been convicted of supplying information to the press, to places like Wikileaks. For the past three years, the U.S. government has pressured him to turn on Julian Assange and Wiki Leaks.
The government has spent three years portraying Manning as a traitor who was secretly aiding Al Qaeda. Now we know that the government’s primary arguments were a conspiracy of lies, orchestrated to protect their own illegal acts and outrageous atrocities that should turn the stomach of most Americans.
After a thousand days of abusive pre trial treatment while being denied fundamental constitutional rights, it is Bradley Manning, a gay man, who now faces a lifetime in jail. But it is the powerful forces of our government that should be disgraced, convicted of filing false charges, leveling specious allegations, and engaging in activities that threaten a free press everywhere in America.