The fine line between whistle-blower and espionage
PFC Bradley Manning was acquitted on charges of aiding the enemy but subsequently convicted of violating the Espionage Act. To some, Manning is a hero fighting for full disclosure and the release of information. To others, Manning is no better than a spy working for the enemy and undermining his country’s national security.
Edward Snowden, known as the “NSA leaker,” was likely watching the outcome of this trial very closely.
Report on Manning from the LA Times:
FT. MEADE, Md. — Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was convicted Tuesday of violating the Espionage Act and faces up to 136 years in prison, but his acquittal on the even more serious charge of aiding the enemy was hailed as a victory for the press and the Internet against the government’s crackdown on leaks of classified information.
Manning’s leak of more than 700,000 State Department cables, terrorism detainee assessments, combat logs and videos was the largest breach of classified secrets in U.S. history. Among the information was a now-infamous 2007 video of an Apache combat helicopter attack in Iraq in which U.S. soldiers fired on civilians and killed 12, including two Reuters journalists.
Manning becomes one of only two people ever convicted under the Espionage Act for making classified data available to the public; the other, Samuel L. Morison, a government security analyst convicted in 1985, was pardoned by President Clinton on his final day in office.
“We won the battle, now we need to go win the war,” said chief defense lawyer David Coombs, who was greeted by applause and thanks from Manning supporters when he left the courtroom. “Today is a good day, but Bradley is by no means out of the fire.”
President Obama had once promised on the campaign to offer “protection” for whistle-blowers in government. However, it was recently discovered that his original campaign promise was scrubbed from his old campaign site according to PolycMic. Has the President lived up to this promise, or not?
Is Manning a hero or traitor? What about Snowden? Is Espionage a fair conviction or should Manning have been acquitted entirely?