Skip to comments.The Manning Conviction
Posted on 07/31/2013 9:14:47 AM PDT by Kaslin
Following his conviction this week on at least five counts of espionage and several lesser charges, including fraud and theft, U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning will now do hard time in prison.
In certain circumstances, spies deserve capital punishment. Several decades in jail strikes me being as Manning's criminal due, however.
Treason rates the death sentence, but Manning didn't commit treason. In fact, he beat that rap.
Manning admitted he gave Julian Assange's Wikileaks organization at least 700,000 pages of classified U.S. documents, as well as numerous classified videos. The massive document release included classified State Department cables and military information related to operations in combat zones. So prosecutors charged Manning with "aiding the enemy," an act of treason. The prosecution argued that Manning knew the information he released would aid al-Qaida.
Proving treason involves proving "specific intent." Prosecutors had to prove Manning specifically intended to aid specific enemies. They failed to make that case.
Manning's theft and espionage, in fact, were rather unspecific. He stole information by the megabyte, with scant selectivity and little reflection. He looked for secrets addressing topics that assured sensational media coverage.
Theft, however is still theft; violating military oaths and ironclad laws protecting classified information are military crimes.
Leaking unspecific classified information, especially trainloads of it, can damage U.S. defenses.
I think it already has. Manning's filched documents provide everyone -- friend, foe or bystander -- with a detailed look at American information gathering, information assessment and decision-making in the sensitive realms of foreign policy and defense.
Liberals forever extoll "soft diplomacy," the goodnik mission of diplomats in contrast to the "hard diplomacy" soldiers wield. Diplomacy requires able, careful diplomats. Yet Manning's leaked State Department cables provide our adversaries with a highly granular, candid and often personal portrait of a generation of U.S. diplomats. The cables reveal how specific diplomats operate, what they seek to accomplish and with whom they talk.
Though Manning's leaks did not place American diplomats in immediate mortal danger (a treasonous act), the leaks damaged their ability to conduct diplomacy, both near and long term. The private first class clearly does not understand that diplomacy is America's first line of defense.
Manning claims he became "disillusioned" with a foreign policy focused on "killing and capturing people" -- people, he said, not terrorists. So he spied and leaked information that would damage the agencies and agents conducting American foreign policy.
Manning's passionate defenders argue this damage serves the greater good, but they bear no personal responsibility for protecting American lives and vital interests even if they benefit from that protection.
Excusing Manning's crimes demonstrates a narrow, to the point of benighted, understanding of foreign policy in a dangerous, complicated world. "Burning" U.S. diplomats doesn't simply damage U.S. foreign policy, it hinders constructive, stop-the-killing diplomacy globally.
Several State Department cables were classified in deference to the sensitivities of foreign diplomats. One quotes a senior Chinese official bluntly describing North Korea's regime as crackpot. Is an honest comment, very likely an incremental step toward diplomatically reducing the threat of nuclear war in East Asia, worth keeping secret? Manning and Assange exposed it, but their vision of greater good is rather criminally self-serving.
Eventually an adversary will use insights gained from analyzing Manning's stolen documents to conduct operations that threaten American lives and livelihoods. Delayed treason, however, isn't a crime.
Manning, demoted to the rank of convict, has earned his next military tour. Before his trial, the military kept Manning in its Joint Regional Correctional Facility. The JRCF incarcerates pretrial defendants and prisoners with short sentences (five years or less). It's located at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. -- but don't confuse it with its famous Leavenworth neighbor, the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks. The "DB" is what Hollywood means by "Leavenworth." News media report Manning will do his stretch in a DB cell.
The U.S. Army Command and General Staff School is also located at Ft. Leavenworth. The staff school runs what joking soldiers attending it refer to as "the short course." The Disciplinary Barracks? It runs Leavenworth's "long course." Would-be spies, take note. The long course isn't a death sentence, but it is certainly no joke.
The 136 would be excellent but 40 will do...
"Don't tell my boyfriend to take orders or he will go into the biggest bitch snit you ever seen!"
In the colonial Williamsburg Virginia era, a courthouse sentence calling for more than one year in jail was considered cruel ... so major violation culprits went straight to the gallows.
Can anyone explain to me HOW a PFC got access, let alone unsupervised access to all this data?
I say NO WAY he did this alone. If he did it unaided, then numerous people in his chain of command need to be going to Leavenworth for dereliction of duty. This includes all the staff NCO’s who were running the shop day to day.
There are two issues:
1) How did Manning get the data
2) Why was there no system of checks, balances, accountability, inventory and inspection? The system should have caught a Colonel trying this, at several levels, let alone a PFC.
[Full Disclosure - I was once a PFC, and a fairly good one. ;-)]
Back in the 1970’s I was squadron S-2 (Intelligence Officer) When I gave a briefing to our officers on recognition of Soviet equipment I had to post a guard in the passageway outside the doors of the briefing room. After the lecture, all the material went back in my safe. My S-2 clerk was a sergeant E-5.
This was for drawings & specifications of 20 year old Russian equipment...like they didn’t already know what they were driving/flying/firing!
I was the one responsible for that information, not my E-5 Intel Clerk. My signature on the inventory, my neck on the chopping block.
To me that's the real question both in this case and with Snowden.
We live in a world where there are a small number of soldiers and “contractors” who cannot be trusted, there has to be return to basics in my opinion..
The laugh riot is the lame stream media endlessly reminding us that this miniature lavender queen/fudge packee version of traitor was spared a life sentence as he was acquitted of treason and now faces ONLY 136 YEARS! Party on, Bradley!