Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Exactly Which Enemy Did Bradley Manning Aid?

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.

15 Comments / Post A Comment

Buffalo66 (#6,146)

The only enemy aided I can think of is good taste. That glow stick went out style in 1996.

SourCapote (#4,872)

i thought it was an otter pop

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

It was never Eurasia. It was always Eastasia.

cherrispryte (#444)

Mugabe, for starters.

Wikileaks released correspondence between Tsvangirai and US officials in which Tsvangirai said he supported the sanctions against Zimbabwe, because they put pressure on Mugabe. The sanctions are deeply unpopular in Zim, and Tsvangirai has had a huge drop in support since this information came out.

I'm not sure how much of a threat Mugabe really is to US security, but Wikileaks had a quantifiable negative impact on the pro-democracy movement in Zimbabwe.

I am not anti-Wikileaks. I do have a huge problem with Julian Assange, but that's a different story. However, to say that nobody who could (maybe) be classified as an enemy of the United States has been made stronger by Wikileaks is wrong.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

Eh. Ok, but let me get this straight: US supports sanctions and US supports Tsvangirai. Then, thanks to Wikileaks, it comes out that Tsvangirai (like US, who supports him) supports the same thing that US supports (sanctions), which is hugely unpopular in Zimbabwe.

Maybe I'm stupid or something, but it really, really seems to me that if neither Tsvangirai nor US supported the damn sanctions (unpopular with the people, you know, the "demos" of Zimbabwe) things would be a lot more simpler and better for the democracy in Zimbabwe than trying to play these idiotic games of having secret phone conversations and having the leaks and blame games and charging the leakers, the journalists and whatnot.

cherrispryte (#444)

You're not stupid, obviously. And sanctions are an imprecise tool that very rarely do any good whatsoever. But they're one of the few non-military options the US has to express their displeasure with Mugabe, so they're not going anywhere. And sanctions have negatively impacted Mugabe, both in terms of his own wealth and public perception. Just yesterday he launched a huge "anti-sanctions" campaign, which should highlight how much of a threat they are to his power. So I think that there's an argument to be made that the sanctions are good for the pro-democracy movement.
What they are not good for is, you know, the pro-democracy people, and pretty much everyone else in the country. But neither is Mugabe.

rrot (#7,827)

Well at least there's nothing that our military is doing that "aids" "our" "enemies."

Because, how complicated would that be, if our military was "aiding" "our" "enemies" by doing the (otherwise wonderful) things it does? I mean, it can't throw itself in the brig, right? And like, the *idea* of our military giving itself the death penalty, welll…


cherrispryte (#444)

There is tons the military is doing to aid our enemies. These things are complicated as hell anyway. I'm not really sure what point you're trying to make, as your sarcasm outshines your logic.

rrot (#7,827)

I think you got it, but I'm not above helping you out with it: Aiding, enemies, our = important words that are not so easy to define unless one's willing to forgo thought. Sorry if you find the sarcasm too chewy or bad tasting but those're the lumps in today's logic gravy!

hypnosifl (#9,470)

Does changing the level of popular support for someone really count as "aiding the enemy"? By that standard, the question of whether Manning is guilty of that particular charge shouldn't even depend on whether he stole classified information, if he was just an old-fashioned reporter who had a source that told them about Tsvangirai's support of sanctions, if he published that and it was widely reported then he'd be "aiding the enemy". I don't know the legal definition of aiding the enemy but I would hope it's not quite so nebulous as that…

La Cieca (#1,110)

Choire, you obviously have not been paying attention lately to Gawker, where starred commenters are lining up by the dozen volunteering to put a bullet in Manning's skull and then sodomize his corpse.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

And without any /sarcasm tags too, so you know they really mean it.

Kevin Knox (#4,475)

Every time I think about re-registering – which, admittedly, isn't often – I'm provided with ample reason not to do so. Thanks.

Aatom (#74)

The enemy is transparency.

Honest Engine (#1,661)

I think the surface level is embarassment. But below the surface is probably a significant number of intelligence sources that have been compromised. As it's been explained to me, even after the redactions, the Wikileaks documents apparently allow foreign governments to make very knowledgable, accurate inferences about the sources of information described in the documents. Proving this could be difficult, though. I don't know how the court martial process works but if they need to air this stuff publicly, it could be very difficult and embarassing (the LA Times article alludes to this).

Post a Comment