As the Bradley Manning trial officially kicks off today, it's interesting to see famed Constitutional scholar and Harvard professor Laurence Tribe speak out against the case
. As The Guardian notes, Tribe taught Constitutional Law to President Obama when he was in law school.
Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who is considered to be the foremost liberal authority on constitutional law in the US and who taught the subject to President Barack Obama, told the Guardian that the charge could set a worrying precedent. He said: "Charging any individual with the extremely grave offense of 'aiding the enemy' on the basis of nothing beyond the fact that the individual posted leaked information on the web and thereby 'knowingly gave intelligence information' to whoever could gain access to it there, does indeed seem to break dangerous new ground."
Tribe, who advised the department of justice in Obama's first term, added that the trial could have "far-reaching consequences for chilling freedom of speech and rendering the internet a hazardous environment, well beyond any demonstrable national security interest."
I know that some people have pre-convicted Manning, but the charges here are simply crazy. He's already pled guilty to certain charges, but this trial focuses on whether or not he was "aiding the enemy," which would require to show that he did this knowing that it would help Al-Qaida and [classified enemy]
. The supposed "proof" of this is going to be the fact that Osama bin Laden apparently had Wikileaks documents in his compound in Pakistan. But that's ridiculous. Under that theory, anyone reporting information that terrorists found useful would be guilty of violating the Espionage Act and could face the death penalty. As others in the article note, this would create a tremendous chill on investigative reporting.