The heated case of the U.S. versus Bradley Manning has made headlines. On March 9, 2013, Al Jazeera has reported, The case of the U.S. vs Bradley Manning. U.S. Private Bradley Manning is no longer simply the alleged source of all those documents which were leaked to WikiLeaks. According to his own testimony, which has been delivered before a military court on February 28, Manning was the source of those leaks.
In a pre-trial hearing for the first time, Manning has admitted that he broke the law when he released around 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks. Prosecutors will now argue that Manning’s leak put national security and lives at risk by ‘aiding the enemy'.
If convicted, Manning would be labelled as a traitor, and could face life in prison without parole. During his hour-long plea, Manning told the court that he first turned to the national press with this material before approaching WikiLeaks.
Manning should certainly be respected for his right to have bad feelings about what he perceived of as corrupt and brutal government policies. However, as an enlisted soldier in the U.S. military at the time of these events, he is being confronted with charges that he had different legal obligations than a civilian about about how it is acceptable to express those feelings under military law. The implications for journalism and freedom of speech clearly take on different legal dimensions to military prosecutors when seen within such as context. And, so sadly even though it appears Manning may be a well meaning person, he may lose his case on all counts in a military court. It is too bad he simply did not therefore choose a life as a civilian, perhaps as a journalist who felt compelled to share his views on such matters.