Would Bradley Manning Face The Same Charges If He Leaked Same Info To NYTimes Instead Of Wikileaks?
from the questions,-questions dept
Pre-trial hearings for Bradley Manning, the guy accused of leaking State Department cables (and other info) to Wikileaks, are kicking off this week, with many assuming that he’s clearly guilty and will spend the rest of his life in jail. Of course, reports suggest that many thousands (and perhaps hundreds of thousands) of people had access to the exact same documents, and we’re still waiting for any proof of any harm from the leaks. That said, the most interesting question about the Manning trial comes from Gautham Nagesh, who asks if Manning would even have been prosecuted if he’d leaked the exact same info to the NY Times, rather than Wikileaks (even though the eventual publishing of the documents went through the NYTimes and others).
And that brings up an interesting point. Is this really a trial of Manning… or a trial-by-proxy of Wikileaks itself?
That said, I’m not convinced it would have made a huge difference, but the overall attention level might have been different. If we went back a decade, perhaps it would have been an issue. However, starting under the Bush (the younger) administration and certainly ramping up under the Obama administration, the federal government has been pretty aggressive in going after whistleblowers — even when they are going to the press (including some specific cases involving the NY Times).
Where I think it might have made a bigger difference is in how the case finally works out. There seems to be this presumption that Wikileaks is obviously “evil” and therefore anyone working with them must be trouble by association. The concern if the leaks had merely been to the NY Times perhaps wouldn’t have been nearly as strong.