Bradley Manning Charged With Aiding the Enemy -- Whistleblowing Punishable by Death?

The Army has piled 22 new charges on Bradley Manning for allegedly disclosing classified files to Wikileaks, including “aiding the enemy” -- an accusation that potentially comes with the death penalty. While the military says it will not seek capital punishment for the 23-year-old Manning, "the new charges more accurately reflect the broad scope of the crimes" that Manning is accused of committing,” said Captain John Haberland, spokesman for the military district of Washington. And yet:

The Pentagon has yet to explicitly link him to the WikiLeaks website but suspicion has focused on Manning, who worked as a low-ranking army intelligence analyst in Iraq and reportedly boasted of communicating with the website.

US and Western officials have condemned WikiLeaks for publishing hundreds of thousands of sensitive military documents and diplomatic cables over the past several months.

David House, a friend who's visited Manning in prison, released an immediate statement:

These new charges are dangerous to Bradley — as well as to the transparency movement, the free press, and the foundations of open democracy in general — because they carry with them the penalty of death. Through some bizarre series of events we have arrived at a point in which our nation, once a beacon of Enlightenment-era ideals, has put the death penalty on the table as a viable method for dealing with whistle blowers. If you aren’t concerned, you aren’t paying attention....

Bradley’s alleged actions have caused no harm and have exposed widespread government fabrications intended to mislead US citizens. If we want to continue to know when our government lies to us, if we want to see justice and accountability apply equally to politicians as to the people, then we must not stay silent when our politicians attempt to codify the execution and mistreament of those accused of blowing the whistle.

Manning Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, says his team was readying itself for the charges following a seven-month investigation, and expects a trial in May or June to determine if the military has sufficient evidence to try him. Meanwhile, he remains detained in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia.

The Manning Defense Fund will hold a teleconference today at 1 PM EST, including House and Jon Shelburne, former judge advocate general at Roger Williams School of Law. Stay tuned for updates.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at March 3, 2011, 3:31am

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