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Bradley Manning Pleads Guilty To 10 Charges 491

Posted by Soulskill
from the free-information-has-a-steep-price dept.
Entropy98 sends this quote from the LA Times: "Army Pfc. Bradley Edward Manning pleaded guilty Thursday to 10 charges that he illegally acquired and transferred highly classified U.S. government secrets, agreeing to serve [up to] 20 years in prison for causing a worldwide uproar when WikiLeaks published documents describing the inner workings of U.S. military and diplomatic efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe. The 25-year-old soldier, however, pleaded not guilty to 12 more serious charges, including espionage for aiding the enemy, meaning that his criminal case will go forward at a general court-martial in June. If convicted at trial, he risks a sentence of life in prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan."
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Bradley Manning Pleads Guilty To 10 Charges

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  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:10PM (#43036927)

    Only took them ~3 years to get around to scheduling the trial? Seems pretty lethargic even by military-bureaucracy standards.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:31PM (#43037209) Homepage

      "Lethargic"? Try "unconstitutional" or "illegal", per the Sixth Amendment:

      "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial ..."

      • by _xeno_ (155264) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:33PM (#43037235) Homepage Journal

        Oh please, we all know the Constitution is "just a piece of paper" and "isn't a suicide pact."

        You expect our government to follow the rules that they're bound by? What do you think we are, civilized? We're Americans, fuck yeah!

        • by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:56PM (#43037537)

          I hope you're not making an allusion to the previous slashdot article, because that was debunked by both snopes and factcheck:

          http://www.factcheck.org/2007/12/bush-the-constitution-a-goddamned-piece-of-paper/ [factcheck.org]

          I'm not making any assertions as to the character of any past politicians, rather trying to correct one of those lies that keeps being repeated and believed to be true when in fact it is not. Slashdot itself has not formally corrected itself on that matter either, and still many slashdotters to this day echo that original article on a relatively frequent basis. (Capital Blue, by the way, still hosts that article, with no retraction or update of any kind, which unfortunately, many political blogs link to and even have written big editorials showing outrage over the comment, which in all likelihood was never made.)

          • by _xeno_ (155264) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @02:12PM (#43037725) Homepage Journal

            Actually, I was more referring to the recent stuff with the Obama administration trying to explain why the Second Amendment doesn't exist and why we shouldn't worry about it. I guess I got my quotes mixed up.

            Plus there's the whole "free to assassinate Americans when they're outside the country" thing. Clearly judicial process isn't something the Obama administration is terribly worried about.

        • If you allow the Constitution to become "just a piece of paper", you deserve what you get.

          The Constitution is the only collection of laws that is actually aimed AGAINST the powers that are and not against their subjects. No part of the constitution (at least none I can think of right now) limits the powers of the people, but all of them limit the powers of the government. If you let them take that away from you, your government will be the LAST ones to defend you against it.

        • The Constitution may not be perfect, but it's better than what we have now.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:35PM (#43037269)

        "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial ..."

        The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the military's right to maintain different standards of justice for its members than the civilian justice that the wording of the Constituion describes.

        • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:52PM (#43037493) Homepage

          The "different standards" in this case are UCMJ Article 10, which states:
          "When any person subject to this chapter is placed in arrest or confinement prior to trial, immediate steps shall be taken to inform him of the specific wrong of which he is accused and to try him or to dismiss the charges and release him."

          The military justice system actually has a more stringent speedy trial standard than civilian law.

          • by westlake (615356)

            The military justice system actually has a more stringent speedy trial standard than civilian law.

            The price of that is less time to prepare and mount a successful defense.

            The function of a courts-martial is to maintain order and discipline within the armed forces while fairly and properly deciding the fate of a particular defendant.

            It has never been easy to keep things in balance.

        • The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the military's right to maintain different standards of justice for its members than the civilian justice that the wording of the Constituion describes.

          Even though the oath when joining the US military is to Protect and Defend the Consititution of the United States.

          Someone open a window; the stink of hipocracy is overwhelming.

          • Re:Even though (Score:5, Informative)

            by tiberus (258517) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @02:30PM (#43037951)

            Someone volunteering to join the military (e.g. Pfc. Manning) also agrees to be bound by the UCMJ. It's not hipocracy, it's simple reality. If you want members of the military to have the same rights as civilians, you don't want to have a military or the protections it provides. In order for the military to function, it's members must be held to higher standards and have fewer freedoms; otherwise, the whole thing would just fall apart.

            Pfc. Manning is in a hell of his own creation for not only did he volunteer to join the military of his own free will, he was granted access to sensitive information and that sets the bar even higher.

            • Re:Even though (Score:4, Insightful)

              by spune (715782) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @05:28PM (#43040073)
              Manning set the bar even higher than you think -- a high moral bar that most US foreign policy can't hold a candle to. Manning did the right thing in becoming a whistleblower and showing the public what our 'representatives' are scheming. We have a right to know about US support for the coup in Honduras, etc.

              What is hypocritical about this situation is that Manning is being tried for upholding his oath in a meaningful way, while the prosecutors and persecutors are using the letter of the law to contradict its spirit.
            • Re:Even though (Score:4, Insightful)

              by jafac (1449) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @05:49PM (#43040287) Homepage

              "or the whole thing would just fall apart" is actually a pretty lame justification.

              Though I completely agree that Manning did screw himself over royally, pretty much. I'm generally not into victim blaming, but when one signs an SF-312, one really ought to read and adhere to what one's signing. If you don't agree with what's going on, you're obligated to report that to the FSO, and get your clearance revoked and work a non-cleared job. Period. Just because someone else is dishonoring their agreements doesn't mean you get to dishonor yours.

          • Re:Even though (Score:4, Insightful)

            by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @03:15PM (#43038493)

            If this was something that truly disturbed him, there are many legal avenues that he could have taken to expose this without releasing classified documents, which he has a duty to protect.

            For example, congressmen and senators are allowed (in most cases) to see the goings on of the military. He could have contacted one of them, who usually do listen to even lower ranking military members, and said something to the effect of I've noticed unlawful military activity that you should look at.

            Even if you're an E-1 buck private, you're not only allowed but expected to disobey unlawful orders of even a five star general if you have to, and report what they're doing to somebody who is authorized to do something about it. That can often include the local Adjutant General Corps members, which can include e.g. an E-6 who can in the case of unlawful activity can stick it in the face of a full bird colonel and there's nothing he can do about it. They routinely piss off the local chain of command because they're supposed to advocate for those within the ranks of the military who are being mistreated. If you've ever watched star trek, think about how the lowly doctor has authority over the captain when it comes to medical fitness. The AG can do exactly that when it comes to criminal matters.

            I know this because I've been through the process when I was a soldier. In my opinion, Bradley Manning really asked for what he is receiving. There are so many other ways he could have dealt with this, and he chose the sensationalist method, which is unlawful from nearly every perspective you can examine it from.

            And by the way, if you obey an unlawful order, you're held every bit as responsible as if you acted alone, but so is the officer who gave you that order.

      • by egamma (572162) <egamma.gmail@com> on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:41PM (#43037371)

        "Lethargic"? Try "unconstitutional" or "illegal", per the Sixth Amendment:

        "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial ..."

        How are you certain that Bradley asked for to use that right? You are certain that the defendant (or his lawyer) wasn't the one who stalled in order to present a more vigorous defense, track down other witnesses, gather evidences of PTSD or insanity or brainwashing or wahtever?

        And, how do you define speedy? He had 22 charges against him; that means the government had about 6 weeks to prepare to prosecute each of those charges. 6 weeks isn't a whole lot of time.

        • by Desler (1608317)

          Military personnel are subject to the UCMJ which has different rules. And, yes, this has been upheld as constitutional via Congress' power granted to it in Article 1 Section 8:

          "Congress shall have Power... To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval forces."

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          Exactly. If you were just going to plead guilty anyway, wouldn't you want to hold off that plea (and the corresponding prison sentence) for as long as possible?
        • by Perl-Pusher (555592) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @02:04PM (#43037619)
          I'm with you there. In every courts marshal proceeding I ever witnessed about 5 in 20 years. The trials combined came a lot swifter than the it took for Virginia to prosecute a child one molestation case. In every single case even the civilian one, it was the legal maneuvering by the defense attorneys that caused the holdups. In my career, I have served as a balif, juror and was head of a correctional custody facility for a while. I have seen the process, it never been a bureaucracy. They are usually handled very very quickly! Speed is never advantageous to a defendant. Not only does time allow the defense better preparation, witnesses memory lapses and its much easier to poke holes in their credibility. If you just want to hang someone a 10 minute trial is all a prosecutor needs.
        • by dkleinsc (563838)

          And, how do you define speedy? He had 22 charges against him; that means the government had about 6 weeks to prepare to prosecute each of those charges. 6 weeks isn't a whole lot of time.

          The point of the speedy trial clause is that the government is supposed to create a case against you, and then arrest you, rather than the other way around.

      • "Lethargic"? Try "unconstitutional" or "illegal", per the Sixth Amendment:

        "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial ..."

        Sorry bub, but he's in the military. The military isn't subject to constitutional (civilian) law, in respect to standard jurisprudence. Refer instead to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

        What I get scared about are police officers calling people, 'Civilians' --those cops are just as much a civilian as those they're sworn to protect, and just as protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as the general public.

        • by Uberbah (647458) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @02:13PM (#43037735)

          Refer instead to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

          By all means.

          The UCMJ requires trials within 120 days. Manning past that years ago. The UCMJ also forbids unlawful command influence - which Obama committed when he publicly pronounced Manning guilty, since as CiC is the boss of the prosecution and the judge. Funny how the "but Manning broke the laaaaaaaw" types don't care about that.

      • by overmoderated (2703703) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @02:02PM (#43037591)
        The entire US government should be on trial, not Manning for having a conscience.
      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        Well if they gave him a speedy trial they wouldn't have been able to torture him with solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, and all that kind of "fun" now could they? Remember when the USA was SUPPOSED to be the good guys that didn't torture people? Sadly the PTB are running the how to close a society playbook [youtube.com] that has actually be around since the days of Mussolini. I'm sure many would think the crazy Austrian was the innovator there but most of his stuff he ripped off of Mussolini. Watch the video and s
      • "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial ..."

        Yea, about that...

        Guess who gets to determine what qualifies as "speedy?" Hint: It ain't the accused.

        • by Mitreya (579078)

          Guess who gets to determine what qualifies as "speedy?" Hint: It ain't the accused.

          I know, it's just so much fun to redefine words!

          "Speedy" is "any amount of time"

          "Due process" is "any process that may or may not involve courts or laws"

          "Imminent threat" is "any unconfirmed threat with no known timeline"

  • Aiding the enemy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by detritus. (46421) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:10PM (#43036933)

    The big revelation is that he also gave the documents over to US agencies first. Aiding the enemy my ass, he went to Wikileaks after the New York Times (which Daniel Ellsberg used for the Pentagon leak) and other news agencies that didn't follow through.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833)

      He most certainly was aiding the enemy, and I don't see how going to NYT first changes that? Manning indiscriminately leaked an enormous amount of classified materials including details of our military tactics, names of our Iraqi and Afghan allies and spies, classified diplomatic cables revealing our diplomatic strategies etc etc. Wikileaks tried to erase some of the names etc but most of it still came out. That's not what being a "whistleblower" is about.

      • Re:Aiding the enemy (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:40PM (#43037357)

        He most certainly was aiding the enemy, and I don't see how going to NYT first changes that? Manning indiscriminately leaked an enormous amount of classified materials including details of our military tactics, names of our Iraqi and Afghan allies and spies, classified diplomatic cables revealing our diplomatic strategies.

        Could you please provide conclusive proof that the release of this information did in fact provide any meaningful aid to the enemy? Because even analysts who support the government's case against Manning have said there was little practical fallout from the leak.

      • Big Lies (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Uberbah (647458) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @02:03PM (#43037607)

        Manning indiscriminately leaked an enormous amount of classified materials including details of our military tactics, names of our Iraqi and Afghan allies and spies, classified diplomatic cables revealing our diplomatic strategies etc etc.

        Which is bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, and bullshit. Respectively. No top secret documents were leaked, nor names of spies.

        Repeating Big Lies doesn't make them true. It just makes you a bigger liar.

      • by fredprado (2569351) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @02:18PM (#43037821)
        Where "The Enemy" is US general population.
    • by jfengel (409917)

      The question is, why didn't they follow through?

      The New York Times would rather not publish classified information if they don't have to. They're aware that it potentially puts people at risk. They're willing to overcome it if they think that there's sufficient reason. That's what they did with The Pentagon Papers, where something crucial was being kept from the public that would affect how they directed the government to act (both with public opinion and with votes.)

      The New York Times doesn't rush to publi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:13PM (#43036979)

    "agreeing to serve [up to] 20 years in prison for causing a worldwide uproar"

    If anything, he agreed to serve that time for leaking information, certainly not for causing an uproar. The responsibility for that lies entirely elsewhere.

  • Chaotic good. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MRe_nl (306212) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:22PM (#43037089)
    • Re:Chaotic good. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:40PM (#43037351)

      if he did what the government accuses him of doing, he deserves [a] medal, not jail time.

      I would argue that he deserves a medal *and* jail time. Sometimes a citizen has a moral obligation to break a law, but to say the military should just overlook his law-breaking sounds an awful lot like "the end justifies the means." And that is the same argument the government is using to violate the Geneva convention and international law.

      Double standards are despicable.

      • Re:Chaotic good. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Uberbah (647458) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:58PM (#43037559)

        Sometimes a citizen has a moral obligation to break a law

        It's being a whistleblower.

        but to say the military should just overlook his law-breaking sounds

        And all the law breaking unveiled by Manning's alleged leaks? Where is the Concern for the law in Manning's treatment? Under the UCMJ he's supposed to get a trial within 120 days, AND be free of unlawful command influence. Which Obama committed when he pronounced Manning guilty.

        We can talk about prosecuting Manning after Bush and Obama are in the Hague for war crimes. Anything else is garbage.

      • Laws have intended purposes; these just don't typically get written-into the laws because those writing them put out documentation at the time of writing, and because frankly they write them also as convenient pretexts to say "so sorry about the egregious outcome in this particular case of the application of this law, but the law, damn it, rules, not us--no, ignore that we wrote it in the first place and are able to revise it at a whim but have failed to do so after thousands of inquiries and urgently be co
  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:28PM (#43037181)
    The nature of the charges against him, alongside the way he has been treated while in custody, shame the US system of justice. He surely committed a crime in doing what he did, but the punishment needs to fit the crime. Does it [guardian.co.uk]?
  • PFC at 25?
    He may have had other problems with the Army. At 25, he should at least be some kind of sergeant.

    • by JBMcB (73720)

      To be fair he's been in prison for three years. Tough to advance.

    • by dan828 (753380)
      Well, I don't imagine that his fitness reports have been all that great over the last three years.
    • by dclozier (1002772)
      I doubt he would have gained any rank since he's been arrested so subtract 3 years. Then depending on when he joined (right out of highschool?) that would only give him 4 years in. At the end of my 4 years (back in the day) I had reached Spec 4. There wasn't a lot of room to go further without signing up again and going after training for newer missle systems. Like anything in life advancment takes planning along with the effort.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] he was promoted to Specialist in 2009. He was then demoted back to Private a couple days before being arrested. Also, I don't think you can really say just by somebody's age what their rank should be. If you don't include a lot of other variables such as what age they joined the military, how well they actually performed, and what missions the person participated in. Stating that a number of years should equal a specific rank kind of reminds me of some union jobs, where people get
  • A thousand days of justice denied.
  • by sirwired (27582) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @02:26PM (#43037901)

    Now, I won't defend the Army's treatment of Manning after his arrest. But he shouldn't have been surprised he was charged with the crimes he is accused of.

    This is different from the Ellsburg case, in that Ellsberg did not have an active clearance at the time he acquired and distributed the Pentagon Papers. Bradley Manning was an active-duty serviceman, and as such was subject to the restrictions imposed on him by his security clearance. Every person with security clearance is required to sign a document stating that if you ever disclose classified material acquired in the course of your duties to anyone not entitled to have it, the government will prosecute you to the hilt. It's not an ambiguous or hard-to-understand document.

    If he had selectively disclosed evidence of malfeasance, that would be one thing, and it would make him a whistle-blower. But he did a complete data dump of diplomatic cables, much of which was sensibly-classified material, the disclosure of which was indeed harmful to national interests, both to security and otherwise.

  • by Vince6791 (2639183) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @02:34PM (#43037999)

    This government is no different from any other government past and present including those labeled communist, they are all run by the rich, the oligarchy or what we call the capitalist. The hypocrisy "All man are created equal" and yet our government oppressed and mistreated pretty much everybody in the u.s and overseas. Has anybody in our government ever been held responsible for the atrocities they have caused overseas for the past 60 years? NO!. What about the bullshit Iraq invasion which lead to hundreds of thousands dead, in poverty, sold into sex trade, etc... We were the aggressors, we had no right to invade. Do you really think u.s did it to liberate the people from saddam especially when this country did not give a shit about the 1990's iraq sanctions which left nearly 1 million Iraqi people dead mostly children. What happens if the whole world sanctioned us, no more imports? u.s threatens everybody with nukes? probably.

    Look at the way the u.s treats it's citizens here, why was it so shocking to hear how the cia tortured the prisoners? cops can beat the crap out of you, shoot you if you run away even if you are not armed, prison is completely hell and it does not rehabilitate anyone, overzealous prosecutors. U.S is a failed ideology.

  • by Rudisaurus (675580) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @02:38PM (#43038049)
    ... plus c'est la meme chose.

    Wasn't there a case something like this one back in the 19th century? Spurious accusations, suppression of evidence, unjust convictions. Some guy named Dreyfus [wikipedia.org], I think ...

    I wonder if our collective social conscience is as responsive as it was back then, so long ago.
  • Bradley Manning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @04:24PM (#43039327)
    Bradley Manning is the victim of scapegoating and political posturing. I should think that one of the highest forms of patriotism and love for one's own country is to blow the whistle when bad things are happening. Manning cared so much for his country and was obviously so troubled by what it was doing that he felt the need to speak out. Manning is one brave soldier because he fought the enemy within.

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