Bradley Manning's Defense: Releasing Over-Classified Information To The Public Would Be Good For The US, Not Bad

from the not-about-harming-the-US dept

As the Bradley Manning case moves towards finally taking place, there are still some pre-trial events going on, and in this week's hearings, what appears to be Manning's key defense strategy is being explained: and it's that he's a believer in open information being a clear, good thing. Specifically, the defense is suggesting that Manning was actually careful to make sure the documents he released to Wikileaks would not harm the US, but were specifically situations where he felt the documents had been over-classified. Many anti-Manning people will argue that it is not his position to decide what is and what is not properly classified, and that's true. But, it does matter in the case, because the key charge against Manning, "aiding the enemy," requires him to have known (or "should have known") that his actions would aid enemies of the US. But, his defense is attacking that head on, arguing the exact opposite. That, as a believer in the power of open information and being worried about over-classification, his motive was to share info that would no harm the US, but which it would benefit the US to have open.

Similarly, Manning's lawyers are making the point that the US government seems to be arguing that giving information to the media is the same thing as giving the info to Al Qaeda, which is preposterous. As they note, all such cases in the past have involved actually giving info directly to the enemy, and not to the public via the media.

The US, for its part, seems to be trying to do everything it can to prevent Manning from even being able to make this argument, arguing both that any discussion of over-classification should be barred from the case, and similarly that Manning's motives make no difference. Both of those claims seem fairly questionable, since the key part of aiding the enemy is understanding if Manning actually thought he was "aiding the enemy."

Update: The court has granted Bradley Manning 112 days sentencing credit for unlawful pre-trial punishment. According to the live blog of the trial, the judge also ruled that Manning's conditions did not count as solitary confinement, and that there was no evidence of command influence leading to unlawful conditions.



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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 12:49pm

    Question:

    Perhaps someone familiar with how military tribunals/trials work could be helpful with this question.

    Is this the most brilliant defense of all time? It's generally accepted that the military over-classifies documents. If this offense the prosecution has offered requires the stated intent, then the classified material would need to be shown to refute the defense, but can the material if classified be shown? If not, then is that reasonable doubt and would that work similarly to civilian court? If they documents can indeed be shown, then is that evidence that they're over-classified, or could they be shown to be when shown to the jury?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 3:41pm

      Re: Question:

      IANAL, but it smacks of desperation, if not utter stupidity. It unlikely that this judge will hold the opinion that military documents are "over-classified". I'm not sure the actual content is even relevant. More likely, the question will rest on whether he knowing transmitted classified documents. Period.

      Given the volume of documents and the low level and experience of Manning, he is hardly in a position to be the arbiter of what is over-classified. As far as an open discussion of the classified documents, I doubt the judge will agree to even have such a discussion. I think it's a moot point.

      Manning really has no defense, and his personal salvation probably rests in his ability to make a case against Assange.

       

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        Michael, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 5:22am

        Re: Re: Question:

        It unlikely that this judge will hold the opinion that military documents are "over-classified"

        That is part of the brilliance. He is not arguing that the documents were "over-classified". Manning's argument appears to be against the intent - he is arguing that HE thought the documents were over-classified. The argument is over his state of mind, not about the documents.

        In that case, DH seems to be on to something with the content of the documents that Manning exposed being key evidence for or against him making it difficult to exclude.

        I hope it works.

         

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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 12:55pm

    Many anti-Manning people will argue that it is not his position to decide what is and what is not properly classified, and that's true.

    Not so. Thats the problem with us. We have left the important issues up to corrupt politicians whose first choice is to hide everything. Too many of us just keep our mouths shut when we shouldn't.

    Like many of us, I believe, he felt he had no one to trust to do the right thing through "proper" channels. So he did what he believed was the next best thing.

    He will never get a fair trial and they are going to use this poor man as an example.

    But ya know... sometimes you find things out that keep nagging at you night and day until you feel the need to make it right.

    So much focus on the man not the messages. Thanks lamestream media.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 1:58pm

      Re: Many anti-Manning people will argue that it is not his position to decide what is and what is not properly classified, and that's true.

      I think the fact that the it is "corrupt politicians" who make the choice is really irrelevant to his actions, and is a different issue. I personally agree with you, but he was not charged in any way with making this decision, and went around the people are meant to. If corruption needs to be weeded out, it needs to be done differently.

       

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        E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:07pm

        Re: Re: Many anti-Manning people will argue that it is not his position to decide what is and what is not properly classified, and that's true.

        If the corrupted have the power to suppress the evidence of their corruption through the classification process, exactly how are you proposing we go about exposing said secret corruption?

         

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        weneedhelp (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 3:01pm

        Re: Re: Many anti-Manning people will argue that it is not his position to decide what is and what is not properly classified, and that's true.

        Well please tell me what color the leprechauns and unicorns are in your universe, because here on Earth they are white and green. what you allude to is exactly why he couldn't. There was no one to trust. Except Wiki.

        If we had trustworthy politicians, he could have gone to his Senator and tried that way. LOLLLOOLLOLLOOLOOL ROFLMAO. Yeah you see (hopefully) the absurdity in my suggestion there.

        "but he was not charged in any way with making this decision" And any, if any, policies are put in to place to deal with that the people who were in charge of making those decisions have failed... miserably.

        "If corruption needs to be weeded out" If?
        " it needs to be done differently."
        Then please be part of the solution and enlighten us as to how you would go about that.

        Everyone acts like it was WOW im going to download all this crap and turn it over. I am sure it was not. I am sure there were feelings of disgust, and betrayal as the details were exposed to him. I am sure it was not an easy decision to knowingly throw your life away to do the right thing.

        He did the right thing. What disgusts me is no one has looked at what was implicated, but choose to go on a witch hunt to prosecute.

        Gotta go.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 1:26am

        Re: Re: Many anti-Manning people will argue that it is not his position to decide what is and what is not properly classified, and that's true.

        I would much rather he did something non-lethal, and at considerable risk to himself and his long-term health, than gone on a rampage as a specially-trained military operative.

        I think that Manning's intentions were noble, but ultimately futile at the time. That does not assuage my conscience, however,t hat his treatment has been, at best appaling, and at worst, inhuman.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    "As they note, all such cases in the past have involved actually giving info directly to the enemy, and not to the public via the media"

    just think that sentence through for a moment and you realize the government considers the public as the enemy

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 1:08pm

    "Bradley Manning's Defense: Releasing Over-Classified Information To The Public Would Be Good For The US, Not Bad"

    That's not a defense, it's not the government's job to serve the public interest. It's their job to serve their own interests and releasing potentially embarrassing information doesn't make the government look good. Hence Manning should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 1:10pm

    the government is going to do the same here as with Dotcom. any defense that is put forward will be opposed, especially if there is half a chance it will be believed and or accepted. basically, if there is something the government can do to totally screw any defense, it will do it, not just to make out how 'bad' the defendant(s)are, but more importantly to try to show just how right it is and how 'American' it is.

     

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    Keroberos (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    He is guilty of aiding our enemies. Wikileaks is clearly a terrorist front hell-bent on destroying our lack of American freedoms, and shinning the light of transparency on the US governments hidden jack-booted thuggery around the world.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 1:47pm

    Did I miss something? Wasnt everyones argument just a few months ago that there was no clear evidence that he did these things? Now he is admitting it and trying some bogus lawyer tricks. Just kill him and save our tax money. The world will not miss his Rat ass.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

      Re:

      Ah yes, those pesky "bogus lawyer tricks." Due process is so hard, let's just skip it!

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

      Re:

      "Did I miss something?"

      I'd say so. A lot, for starters.

      "Wasnt everyones argument just a few months ago that there was no clear evidence that he did these things?"

      No, that hasn't ever actually been "everyones argument". In point of fact, everyone's argument has been that there was/would eventually be evidence of what he did, but that one must take into account his motivation for doing what he did.

      "Now he is admitting it and trying some bogus lawyer tricks."

      If by "bogus lawyer tricks" you refer to "using and expecting for due process of the law to be followed" then yes, he is indeed using "bogus lawyer tricks". I can see how someone you obviously don't like expecting due process might upset you and cause you to refer to their actions as "bogus lawyer tricks", but your issues with said person DO NOT mean they are denied due process just because you have issues with them.

      "Just kill him and save our tax money."

      Translation, "Fuck due process."

      Yeah, that'll definitely show the world that America believes in freedom and due process and all those other ideals it was founded on. Or not.

      "The world will not miss his Rat ass."

      Well, you won't. But the world will. The world will miss an individual who had the integrity to buck the chain of command when he saw something that his conscience could not allow to go unreported. The world needs more people like him I say. Those not afraid to go against the status quo and say "fuck it, damn the consequences, I'm going to do what I think is right". But again, I can see how such people might upset someone like you. Let me ask, would you be first in line to ask or be asked, "Halt! Papers please." If you can say yes to that then you sir/ma'am are most definitely someone the world would actually not miss.

       

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      The Groove Tiger (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:17pm

      Re:

      "Just kill him and save our tax money. The world will not miss his Rat ass."

      Now try saying that while twirling your greased thin moustache and chuckling to yourself.

       

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    Irving, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    "no evidence of command influence leading to unlawful conditions."

    This, from a country where torture is standard practice, means very, very little.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:04pm

    the judge also ruled that Manning's conditions did not count as solitary confinement

    Huge public outcry over Manning being in solitary confinement forces government to move him to somewhere better.
    Judge rules that he wasn't in solitary confinement.
    What.

     

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    Beta (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:05pm

    don't tell those guys freed after 20 years by DNA evidence

    "The court has granted Bradley Manning 112 days sentencing credit for unlawful pre-trial punishment."

    I have never heard of such a thing before, but it certainly raises some interesting possibilities, especially if he's acquitted.

    "Your Honor, how much would I get if I burned down the local Army recruiting office, then turned myself in?"

    "I'd say about three months-- oh, dear."

     

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      E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:10pm

      Re: don't tell those guys freed after 20 years by DNA evidence

      What the court is saying is that if convicted, the time he has spent imprisoned without bail will apply to the final sentence. Sounds pretty fair to me, all things considered.

       

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        That One Guy (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 3:33pm

        Re: Re: don't tell those guys freed after 20 years by DNA evidence

        I'd say it sounds like a nice start, but if even the judge is going to find that his unlawful imprisonment counts a 'pre-trial punishment', then that's a rather serious point that needs to be brought up in the trial itself, and not something to just brush off and count against any potential prison term duration.

         

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      Monarch818, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 4:06pm

      Re: don't tell those guys freed after 20 years by DNA evidence

      Even if he's found innocent on the aiding the enemy charges, he will still be found guilty on some kind of lesser charges via the military. Derelict of duty or some such charge, essentially a misdemeanor, but now he has timed served against any of those Article 15 charges.

       

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      Brandon Rinebold (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 4:14pm

      Re: don't tell those guys freed after 20 years by DNA evidence

      Beta,

      I think it's a non-transferrable coupon, figuratively speaking. However, if it did work that way...

      I'm pretty sure Arson carries more than a few months since it's often punished at the level of attempted murder if it is reasonably possible to be occupied. However, he could probably get away with a minor assault on almost 4 months of 'credit'.

      So, your honor, how much time would I be sentenced to if I kicked the prosecutors in the balls? 2-3 months? I'll be back in 5 minutes.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:19pm

    It seems to me for the government charges to have any weight they are going to need to show proof of actual harm Manning's leaks caused. I don't think they can do that unless they include "the public" as the enemy.

    This will be interesting. I've always wondered why the U.S. has wanted Assange so badly as well.

    Is is me or is this lacking press coverage?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

    So the court has officially recognized that his treatment was considered "unlawful pre-trial punishment," and all he gets is credit for time served?!? Where are the repercussions for the people/government that ordered this treatment?!?

    I don't care whether you think what Manning did was right or wrong, his pre-trial treatment should scare the hell out of every American citizen.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:43pm

      Re: Just consider it 'conditioning the sheeple'....

      It should scare the hell out of all Americans that this could happen to any one of them (not just those accused of leaking classified documents), and chances are when it does there will be ZERO media coverage for them...

      First they came for the Copyright Infringers,
      and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't one of them.
      Then they came for the Domain Names,
      and I didn't speak up, even though I had one.
      Then they came for the accused terrorists,
      and I couldn't speak up because they said I was the terrorist...

       

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    Gerald Robinson (profile), Jan 9th, 2013 @ 7:26pm

    Not secret

    Something that over 100,000 people have access to and most of those don't need the access is NOT a secret! The old saying "if one person knows its a real secret, if two know its maybe a secret, if three know its not" applies.

     

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    free classified ads posting sites, Apr 4th, 2013 @ 7:53am

    over-classified

    The whole information about over-classified for the public would be very useful for me and for all the people like me.

     

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