United States

Mar 3, 2011

Rundle: with WikiLeaks, Manning erred in being human

Just at the point when the WikiLeaks saga was collapsing into final absurdity, US soldier Bradley Manning faces 22 additional charges, including that of aiding the enemy, which attracts the death penalty.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Just at the point when the WikiLeaks saga was collapsing into final absurdity — with Julian Assange’s apparent outburst about a Jewish conspiracy, his attempt to trademark his name (to be fair, this is to protect him from false endorsement claims, etc), and the announcement that Steven Spielberg has bought the rights to  The Guardian book and the tell-all by former WikiLeaker Daniel Domscheit-Berg — something comes along to tip it into tragedy again, and that is the charging of US soldier Bradley Manning with 22  additional crimes, including that of aiding the enemy, which attracts the death penalty.

The other charges include wrongfully obtaining classified material, fraud, and illegal transmission of defence information. The capital charge relates specifically to the presence of names of informers in many of the leaked documents, and the argument that such release may have led directly to deaths in Afghanistan.

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33 thoughts on “Rundle: with WikiLeaks, Manning erred in being human

  1. shepherdmarilyn

    I suspect the charges against him will be thrown out by the Supreme court but Obama and Holder are making a dreadful mistake here in this case.

    The only “evidence” that Manning did anything at all is the word of Lamo who is clearly unhinged if not dangerously insane.

  2. Bob the builder

    Fascinating discussion about the horrors of sterile imprisonment. I remember talking to a soldier who went AWOL (from an Australian base in peacetime – the ’90s) for a day or two and was sent to military prison. I asked him what it was like and a look of genuine horror came over his face. Rough, brutal, I thought. No, completely regulated; to get a ciggie, prisoners would have to line up and progress across a series of marks, each time saluting and yes-sir-ing and generally be completely obedient and controlled. This regimentation and humiliation was present in every aspect of the prison and a few weeks of that had deeply shaken this bloke.

  3. Michael James

    Manning is subject to military justice and is being held by the US Military in the standard US Military detention facility, known officially as a stockade. The treat ment he is receiving is likely the same as other military personnel held there.

    As for decrying his experience as a gay man in the US army, he was surely well and truly aware of the US military’s ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. To then blame that for his actions, where he broke the laws he was subject to, looks like a cheap cop out.

    You might think that the actions he undertook were for some ‘greater good’, but the truth is he stole classified material and passed the material to people who were not authorised to receive it. In any military in the world, that is a very serious offence and Manning is being charged and will stand trial for it.

  4. Martin Doyle

    The US Military should need to provide some evidence to show that the release of this classified information caused someone’s death.

  5. baal

    so much to say, so little time and space to say it

  6. klewso

    Watching Domscheit-Berg on Lateline last week, started me wondering what sort of personality is attracted to work for WikiLeaks? What sort of person does it take to hold them all together, and what happens if “one” of them starts to thinking they aren’t being appreciated enough, aren’t getting the sort of recognition they think they deserve? He’s done all right.

    (The week before it was John Burns (London’s NY Times boss) lining up for a free-kick, waffling on about how Assange wasn’t a real journalist or something – and the resources/”inclination” they have to put into “investigation” of such things – apparently forgetting the ironic fact that “Murdoch” has “journalists” working for them – from “News of the World” to “FUX News”, doing just that!)

  7. Fitz

    A fine evocation of some of the horrors of getting entangled in the American legal system (in almost any way in any capacity).

    I hope it will eventually get through to some of our unimaginative though high-minded civil libertarians that extraditing Australians anywhere is to be avoided if possible. It is one thing to be a Conrad Black on trial in Chicago but most people are more like the lonely hacker who was gaoled in the US for a copyright “crime” even though he had never been to the US and had to be extradited – to the shame and disgrace of those who allowed the Free Trade Agreement to give the US so much.

    Why shouldn’t a Zentai, the 89 year old still resisting extradition to Hungary, be tried in Australia? Let the necessary legislation be passed if there are difficulties. As there are no living witnesses even the old arguments about convenience (for the prosecution!!!!) are not even theoretically available. And this is 2011 after all….

    Back, almost, to GR’s article. Isn’t it obvious that, amongst the hundreds of thousands who, after 9/11 were given the access that Manning had, the Chinese and Russians have found a few who will have given them all those secrets for money or because of blackmail? Wikileaks ought to be thanked for showing us how unsafe our secrets are in the hands of the Americans.

  8. Kevin Tyerman

    Guy Rundle reports:
    Despite being innocent until proven guilty, even under military law, his extended remand has been a bloody-minded application of every regulation associated with US “supermax” prisons — he is in permanent solitary confinement (even his one hour/day exercise), under permanent surveillance, must make a verbal response to a query every 10 minutes, and if he attempts to take exercise in his cell — push-ups, for example — he is physically prevented from doing so.

    Michael James points out:
    The treat ment he is receiving is likely the same as other military personnel held there.

    So, is this typically how the US military treats it’s personnel before they are found guilty of any charges? Are they treated this way throughout all imprisonment?

    Does “must make a verbal response to a query every 10 minutes” apply 24 hours a day and amount to a rather serious case of effective sleep deprivation?

  9. Tony Kevin

    Guy Rundle’s ‘s article was informative, depressing but I believe missed the main point about why Bradley Manning did what he allegedly did.

    Bradley did not ”err’. As his revealed email to Lamo makes clear. he made a moral judgement that he knew great evils – crimes against humanity – were being routinely committed in Iraq by the organisation of which he was a part, the US Army, and he felt morally obliged to make those great evils public whatever the cost to him.

    This is the the same moral judgement written about by Benjamin Franklin in 1792: ”a nation as a society forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society’. Martin Luther King made the same point: “Our lives begin to end the moment we become silent about things that matter.”‘ And Assange has made a similar point on his website – if we ignore state evil, we become part of it. I believe it too, which is why I wrote my book on SIEV X.

    What must now terrify Manning’s torturers is that he will stay sane and brave enough to say such things in court, in which case he will become a martyr. They would rather drive him insane so that he cannot say them. I pray for him that he will find the strength to face as a hero a death that , if it comes, will not have been in vain.

  10. MLF

    Agree, fascinating discussion on Manning’s treatment – how do we know this by the way? Is it from his lawyer? And although you lost me a little in the middle, I’m outraged that – despite his crimes – he can be held for so long without trial.

    “The WikiLeaks process has been part of an argument that governments should be more open, that power relations should be reconstructed in a new era. That’s not the same as saying that individual operatives should have the legal right to distribute as they wish. At some point, the prosecution of such an act becomes an act of decorum essential to the state’s existence, and to suggest that a massive classified document leak could be ignored is simply unreal.”

    So true, Rundle, so true. Thanks for the balance.

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