Other events have pushed this off the front pages lately, but it speaks volumes that after all that time of alarm over Brad Manning and Wikileaks, with shrieks of horror over the grave damage given to national security, even in a freaking military hearing, slanted rules and all, the government can’t back up its claim:
After seven days of testimony and the submission of more than 300,000 pages of documents, a key question remains unanswered in the case against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning:
How exactly did his leak of hundreds of thousands of secret documents, logs and at least one video — which he passed to WikiLeaks — directly harm U.S. national security? […] As both sides gave closing arguments Thursday, the government presented no evidence of a death, injury or harm done to the United States that was caused by the release of the information. Instead, military prosecutors argued that Manning knew that what he was doing was illegal and could help America’s enemies, which they specified as terrorist organizations. (emphasis mine)
Information leaks as they stand are a gray area, one where the difference between prosecution and praise — or at the least, quiet nod of acceptance — seems to come down to whose goals the leak fulfills. A key part of political reporting today leans on inside information from anonymous sources, and foreign policy reporting is practically impossible without regular bypassing of the carefully constructed filters the ones creating and/or carrying out said policy erect. But to be generous, say hypothetically the description of what Manning is accused of as illegal with no qualifications whatsoever were settled:
- The persistence of leaks as sources for news, combined with the whole idea of leaking being about getting out inside information, drags in not just the leaker but anyone who moves the information from that point on. Congratulations, you’ve just criminalized several media outlets. If not, then answer my question, you’ve only had an entire year to think about it.
- The illegality as it focuses specifically on Manning…point being? It’s not as if were he to plead ignorance they’d take it seriously for even a moment.
The second part of the prosecution argument effectively boils down to “al-qaeda could read it!!”:
The prosecution showed an al Qaida video encouraging members to seek information about U.S. activities from places like WikiLeaks. It also referred to an article in al Qaida’s Inspire magazine — produced by the terror group’s propaganda arm — which referred to the leaks.
Most of what was leaked was past information, having largely squat to do with al-qaeda operations. Fat lot of good it has done them anyway, considering how many of their high-ranking members have since purchased that farm they’ve had their eyes on.
By the way: the thing about propaganda that people get hung up on sometimes is that it isn’t unidirectional. Knowing that they’re being tracked and that their magazine would find its way to desks in D.C., if they could keep up the fear on the cheap by exaggerating the worth of Wikileaks (and the spread of the material via mainstream media — again, consistency implies that those who’d see Julian Assange marched into a U.S. court would have to make room in that black SUV for Arthur Sulzberger II, among others) to themselves, why pass it up?
That said, even the defense has something stupid to say:
In addition to asserting there was no real damage done to U.S. security, the defense argued that Manning was a troubled man struggling with gender-identity issues, that the command structure in his unit failed him and that the information should not have been classified. (emphasis mine)
This isn’t the 50’s, you don’t get to toss off a claim that Gays Are Teh Crazy as if it’s nothing. Sexual identity has as much to do with exposing the hypocrisy and tin-pot paranoia embedded in U.S. foreign policy as my hobby of homebrewing has to do with traffic in Johannesburg.