Army's Wikileaks dragnet widens

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16 Responses to “Army's Wikileaks dragnet widens”

  1. Fuzz-Grunge says:

    You can donate to a legal fund at http://www.bradleymanning.org/

    What else I’m not sure.

  2. bkad says:

    So it follows, if what he did was morally acceptable, that he should not go to jail, and nor should his friends/associates.

    I agree that most boing boingers feel Manning did the right thing (I am an exception in this). Either way, though, I don’t see how it being morally acceptable equates to ‘should not go to jail’. He still (allegedly) broke the law. If you steal medicine for your sick kids, you still should be punished for stealing, however moral that motivation. If you were to embezzle money from BP, and donate it to starving orphans, you wouldn’t get off on account of it being BP you stole from and starving orphans you aided. Break the law, you get punished. The court of public opinion (or God, if you believe in Him) and can worry about morality. But that’s not the law’s job.

    • querent says:

      “But that’s not the law’s job.”

      One can and should, however, work to change laws you see as unjust.

      “Break the law, you get punished.”

      The pentagon lied about the Reuters journalist and the wounded kids for years. This is not legal. Who will be punished?

      Manning is a hero and a patriot. “…against all enemies, foreign or domestic.”

      If you believe the letter of the law must be obeyed, he should be given the minimum punishment possible, with apology, and those that he outed should be locked up for a good, long time.

      (I personally will take my own moral judgment over the law any day.)

  3. insert says:

    I think complicity in enforcing bad laws is itself immoral.

    For instance, not to violate Godwin’s Law, if the law required killing Jews, would you support punishing me for refusing to do so? I hope not. Punishing a whistleblower is a lesser case, but similar enough: we’re punishing someone who doesn’t deserve to be punished. And complicity in allowing that to happen is problematic.

    And “legislating morality” gets a bad rap — there’s nothing but morality to base laws off of. We ban murder because we think it’s immoral; we ban stealing because we think it’s immoral.

  4. bkad says:

    The pentagon lied about the Reuters journalist and the wounded kids for years. This is not legal. Who will be punished?

    I’m not familiar with the story you mention, I’d give an ‘Amen’ to my editing my comment to reflect how the law SHOULD work, not how it always DOES.

  5. bkad says:

    I think complicity in enforcing bad laws is itself immoral.

    For instance, not to violate Godwin’s Law, if the law required killing Jews, would you support punishing me for refusing to do so? I hope not. Punishing a whistleblower is a lesser case, but similar enough: we’re punishing someone who doesn’t deserve to be punished. And complicity in allowing that to happen is problematic.

    Interesting. I’ll try to engage with honesty and vulnerability. I have to admit first off, that I have a hard time seeing Manning as a whistle blower. I don’t think he revealed any substantial immorality or illegality. But that’s a whole ‘nother debate, and I tried to open my comments here with, “even if he were moral.” So let’s go ahead with that assumption.

    To respond to your nazi example, I do think degree matters. I think your example is clear cut. The problem with whistleblowing is that it is a grey area. People don’t agree now, and likely won’t within decades, whether what Manning allegedly did is or isn’t moral. I think the absence of clarity, the law should aim for consistent enforcement.

    A stronger argument for punishing Manning, though, is for deterrence of future leakers. You see, the judgement of whether leaking was right or wrong is AFTER the fact. Society is at the mercy of the morality and judgement of individual leakers. If you have someone who leaks some secrets in the name of some good, but turns out to have been mistaken, mislead, etc., the damage has already been done. The risk and potential damage of discouraging a potential whistle blower is less than the alternative risk and damage of encouraging arbitrary individuals to release information as they see fit.

    • insert says:

      Thanks for engaging, bkad, I’ll try to do my best as well.

      Basically, the judgement of a leak’s goodness/morality *must* happen after the fact. We’re trying to formulate a moral principle and we want it to judge Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers as “moral” but espionage as “immoral.” AFAIK, I can’t think of any ante hoc [before the fact/before having read them] principle that would declare the Pentagon Papers to be a legitimate leak.

      And, taking that as a premise, deterrence of future leakers/whistleblowers is not necessarily a good. We want to incentivize future Daniel Ellsbergs, not deter them. That is, I completely disagree that cost of deterring a potential whistleblower is less than the cost of failing to deter non-whistleblowing leaks.

  6. Blue says:

    >If you steal medicine for your sick kids, you still should be punished for stealing, however moral that motivation.

    No.

  7. kriktsemajniatpac says:

    There is a political game here. The Obama Administration protects its hindquarters as the Bush and Nixon administrations did. Open government is for people not in power, or people in power who believe that we are a limited government of laws, not men; closed government is for people who are in power who want to hide the embarrassing reality of their screwups and so retain power at any cost. I’m very disappointed in Obama for using the same tired security arguments for his plumbing expedition that past presidents have used for their maximalist executive agendas. Yesterday, Secretary Gates had the gall to accuse the leaker(s), Wikileaks, and their partner newspapers of potentially causing the deaths of American military personnel due to the outing of so-called sensitive classified information that’s so out of date that it’s worthless for espionage. This is Gates, who HAS American — and lots more non-American — blood on his hands for his continuation and escalation of the two wars we’re currently waging. From what I’ve heard, the leaked information adds vital evidence to the public discourse on the war in Afghanistan, information that’s been withheld to protect the government and its failed policies. Viewing this issue of whistleblowers abstractly as an ethics essay question betrays the very principles of democracy the past two administrations have sought to preserve through misguided military adventures. I think there should be a medal of honor and a generous pension for whistleblowers who release this kind of information.

  8. karl_jones says:

    We should be astonished when a man defies Authority.

    We should hardly be surprised when Authority crucifies that man (and hounds his apostles, to boot).

  9. Anonymous says:

    It is interesting to consider whether acts of civil disobedience, like this leak, should be punished by the law. A lot depends on the law being broken.

    Laws supporting the classification of documents and punishing leaks due to the national security ramifications are not bad laws – they are very necessary in many circumstances, though they have been horrifically abused in modern times. However, Jim Crow laws are intrinsically evil and needed to be destroyed.

    Whether the strategies for these two circumstances are different or not, I’m not sure. Martin Luther King, Jr. felt that civil disobedience should be punished and that those who committed it should submit themselves to the law in order not to be above it – for when the law is just, it does bring equality. The ideal of the law as justice and equalizer must be sustained.

    I believe that cases of civil disobedience involving unjust laws should end with a trial that results in jury nullification of the law (which can be hard), and failing that a pardon. In the other cases, where the law is just but the circumstances demanded violation of the law, I think that the actor should be convicted but pardoned by the executive. That’s one of the great checks that the executive branch has over the other branches, and one of the most important checks over the judicial branch.

    Now such a pardon is not likely in the current climate – but you are as likely to end prosecution of Manning with public opinion as you would be to support a pardon of Manning. I think the pardon option respects the rule of law while respecting that some laws must be broken at some times to satisfy the highest law – the natural law that gives us all our rights and says it is wrong to kill civilians and cover it up.

  10. mdh says:

    I think the absence of clarity, the law should aim for consistent enforcement.

    And I think in the absence of a verified intelligence report of a kidnapee bound and tied to the tracks, the trains should aim for a consistent schedule.

  11. mdh says:

    If you were to embezzle money from BP, and donate it to starving orphans, you wouldn’t get off on account of it being BP you stole from and starving orphans you aided.

    Of course not, you’d have to donate it to starving congresscritters to get off.

    would you like citations which prove my argument?

  12. EH says:

    Wow, this is interesting news indeed. I suspect that this means that whatever logs they have of Manning’s activity don’t corroborate responsibility for the entire leak, leaving them in the lurch to know what is contained in the 15,000 delayed docs, much less Wikileaks’ ‘insurance’ file. They were trying to pin the whole thing on him, but if they’re making rumblings about his friends I can’t see how it means they have a strong case.

  13. Stumanaus says:

    It’s funny that the exact same things that actually created your country in the first place (actions against a perceived tyranny in the law of the day), are now penalised – for almost exact same reasons.

    Way to close the circle on this!

    As with most secrets, they are secret because they will probably embarrass those who wish to keep it secret. The excuse for secrecy is always the same though but the basic facts of secrets have nothing to do with security.

  14. insert says:

    Regardless of whether we think the war logs dump was appropriately anonymized, I think most boingers agree that Collateral Murder and the war logs ought not to have been classified and that Bradley Manning more or less did a morally acceptable thing in leaking them.

    So it follows, if what he did was morally acceptable, that he should not go to jail, and nor should his friends/associates.

    So how do we prevent Bradley Manning from going to jail? Call Congress? Write letters? Blog about it? [A serious question: what is to be done?]

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