Saturday, August 14, 2010

Can Bradley Manning Really Be Executed Over Wikileaks?

Collateral Murder

As the bloody war in Afghanistan and Iraq takes on its 104th month, making it America's longest war, The citizens of the US finally became aware of the truth behind this war with the disclosure of U.S. classified information by Bradley Manning. Many saw these documents that shed light on the "Collateral Murder" as horrific whereas others immediately noted it as an act of treason.

US army intelligence analyst Private Bradley Manning allegedly wrote to the former hacker Adrian Lamo, “Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public.” Following this Manning was arrested in May 2010 for leaking the classified data to the public. Questions of whether this act was considered ethical or treason, good or bad, have arisen all over the nation. US Republican Congressman Mike Rogers and many others call for the execution of Manning. The question is, is exposing war crimes a crime?

Manning was arrested by agents of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command in May 2010 and held in pre-trial confinement in a military jail at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.[1][2][3] On July 5, 2010, two misconduct charges were brought against him for "transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system" and "communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source".[2][7] The charges included unauthorized access to Secret Internet Protocol Routers network computers, download of more than 150,000 United States Department of State diplomatic cables, download of a secret PowerPoint presentation, and downloading a classified video of a military operation in Baghdad on 12 July 2007. Manning is also charged for forwarding the video and at least one of the cables to an unauthorized person.[19] The maximum jail sentence is 52 years.[1] Lieutenant Colonel Eric Bloom has said that "as part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the next step in proceedings would be an Article 32 Hearing, which is similar to a grand jury. An investigating officer will be appointed, and that officer looks into all facts of the matter, does an investigation, and upon conclusion, the findings will be presented to a convening court martial authority. The division commander will consider based on what is in that, what the next steps are. Either there is enough evidence or not enough evidence to proceed to a court-martial ... A date has not yet been set. We haven't even identified the investigating officer. We're still in the early stages of this case".[1]

Wikileaks have said that they are unable as yet to confirm whether or not Manning was actually the source of the video, stating "we never collect personal information on our sources," but saying also that "if Brad Manning [is the] whistleblower then, without doubt, he's a national hero"[6] and "we have taken steps to arrange for his protection and legal defense".[5][20] Manning's official military attorney is Capt. Paul Bouchard.[21] On June 21, Julian Assange told The Guardian that WikiLeaks had hired three U.S. criminal lawyers to help defend Manning, but that they had been denied access to him.[22][1] Boing Boing asked Lt. Col. Eric Bloom whether Manning was "represented by any civilian attorney" and Bloom responded, "I do not know of any rebuffing. I've been in the military for 26 years, and I've never heard of any party's attempt to secure legal representation being denied. We don't rebuff representation."[1] A military spokesperson told CNN that Manning was processed at the Quantico detention facility on July 29. As of July 31, he remained in solitary confinement. The official told CNN that Manning could be taken to a military judge in Washington in August, but that it would likely be delayed.[21] Manning has been considered a "person of interest" in the leak of over 90,000 documents to Wikileaks pertaining to the War in Afghanistan, which were released to the public on July 25, 2010.

As we look further into this situation, Oran's Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as "...[a]...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]." In the United States, treason is specifically defined in the United States Constitution in Article III Section 3 as follows:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Therefore the United States Code at 18 U.S.C. § 2381 states "whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States." The requirement of testimony of two witnesses was inherited from the British Treason Act 1695 (Since 1945, however, this has been abolished in British law and treason cases are now subject to the same rules of evidence and procedure as a murder trial, but the US requirement still stands barring an amendment).

When objectively considering all sides of the situation here, was Manning actually trying to levy war against the United States or even aid the enemies? His main objective was getting the truth out there, and if we, as citizens, do not have the right to object to the government's practices, especially when it involves the murder of innocent civilians for no reason whatsoever, than we cannot say that this nation is a democracy. This was not meant to harm the United States. If anything, it was meant to bring us together so that people could stop dying over these horrid lies. If Manning committed treason, then what about Reagan selling arms to Iran and Bush outing American agents? The reason for this is not because Bradley Manning was trying to "help the enemies" but because this footage is proof of what is really going on. Of course government officials want him executed. But we, as a nation, cannot be fed the lies government officials are telling us just because it sounds coherent, when in reality, it is not. My main argument is that the US cannot execute Bradley Manning over telling the truth. The whole reason we even have freedom of speech is so that when the government DOES do something wrong, we have the right to change it. If people want to follow the Constitution so strictly, then they must consider that it also says that Americans have the right to overthrow the government if it becomes corrupt. By not allowing both sides to be heard and executing those in opposition sounds more like a dictatorship than a democracy, to me.

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