The Army has charged Bradley Manning with 22 counts, among them theft, fraud and most importantly, “aiding and giving intelligence to the enemy,” by way of providing military information to Wikileaks. Manning is suspected, or said to be, the source not only for the leaked diplomatic cables but also for footage of airstrikes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been held at Quantico since July of last year. (His mental health evaluation will supposedly be complete sometime in the next month, with a pre-trial hearing perhaps in May, and a trial mid-July, at his defense’s request.)
One charge is “wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy.” That seems reasonable, largely. But how about the charge of actually aiding the enemy? Question being: hey, who are our enemies? And then which of them may have benefitted from this material? Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t our enemies, as we give them in total something like $12 billion a year. Al Qaeda? North Korea? They sure seem like enemies. Has Wikileaks done them a solid? Resulting in… what? While military court and military law are quite different from civilian law, still, in this fashion, the U.S. has set itself up to prove it’s been actually harmed—I’m pretty sure the standard isn’t “embarrassed”!—and I’m not quite sure how it can demonstrate that… yet.