Obama declares Bradley Manning guilty

The President and Commander-in-Chief says that Bradley Manning, accused military whistleblower, broke the law.
OBAMA: So people can have philosophical views [about Bradley Manning] but I can't conduct diplomacy on an open source [basis]... That's not how the world works. And if you're in the military... And I have to abide by certain rules of classified information. If I were to release material I weren't allowed to, I'd be breaking the law. We're a nation of laws! We don't let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.
Just so you know, jurors subordinate judging officers! So much for that trial [Firedoglake]


  1. To be fair, even the president’s opinion, which this is, does not change that nothing’s official till a judge and, possibly, jury make their decisions.

    By the same toke, if a man commits murder, then he is a murderer, and it doesn’t actually matter if he is found guilty or not in trial. The fact remains that he is a murderer.

    Reality won’t change based on what happens in Manning’s eventual trial. He will still have released those documents. All that will happen is that a judge and jury will decide if THEY feel he broke any of a number of applicable laws, and then potentially determine a punishment. None of this will undo or change what Manning did, however.

    1. I love how no one even pretends to care about the innocent-until-proven guilty thing. Manning released those documents. No debate, no trial, we have found our scapegoat, and he is immediately guilty by our accusation.

    2. Obama’s comments demonstrate a lack of due process and a deprivation of his civil rights. It may be a big enough technicality to get Bradley off.

  2. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Only difference between now and sixty years ago is they use more KY now.

    1. “Best change of venue evidence a lawyer could get.”

      As President, he’s the head of the Military (Manning’s employer, from whom he’s accused of stealing secrets to which he was entrusted) the Dept. of State (whose interests are damaged by the leaks) and the Attorney General (who prosecutes). In other words the man who is responsible for the aggrieved parties and the prosecution, but has nothing to do with the defense or judgement, thinks he’s guilty. There is no part of this which diverges from common sense, much less due process.

      The only thing that would have been frightening is the exact _opposite_ comment: “Manning is completely innocent; we’ve just been letting him rot in jail to think over how his lawful act has displeased us.”

  3. So, Mr. President, I take it, based on your comments,that have already ordered the Justice Dept. to prosecute Chimpy McCokespoon, his Puppetmaster Cheney and everyone else involved in the unlawful release of TOP SECRET information. I.E., the deliberate burning of Valerie Plame.

    1. Fun fact: The president can’t be prosecuted for releasing classified information. According to the law, the president has the authority to declassify anything. So if he discloses a secret, he has essentially declassified it and can’t be prosecuted for disclosing it.

      A classic example is Kennedy showing photos of missiles in Cuba. Those were classified, but the act of the president showing them declassified them.

      On the other hand, no one else can claim the same loophole. Only the president. Everyone else can be prosecuted.

  4. I really don’t see what’s so controversial here. Assuming they prove what he did, and we’ve all seen his online confession, so there’s no real reason to muck about with that, he broke the law, and people are generally penalized for that in this country, whether morally right or wrong, it rarely matters, perhaps that could help ease the severity of the penalty, but I really don’t see what the fuss is about.

  5. When Obama said he’d protect whistleblowers, it turns out he meant the ones who work the steamwhistle on the train to the concentration camps. Wait, I’m being dramatic. Wait, no I’m not. The only differences are that you can’t really “concentrate” a group of one (unless that would be what solitary confinement is) and that Bradley Manning will be executed in a way that’s slightly less humane than being gassed.

  6. Of course, he’s right about the laws for revealing classified information and, in general, military law is not the same as civilian law. To wit:

    “(The Supreme Court of the United States) has long recognized that the military is, by necessity, a specialized society separate from civilian society…(t)he rights of men in the armed forces must perforce be conditioned to meet certain overriding demands of discipline and duty.” – Parker v. Levy, 1974

    But I am curious if Manning’s detention (and presumed trial?) is adhering to the laws established by the Military Commissions Act & the legal rights of military members. Any lawyers out there know if Obama’s statement overlooks certain violations of military law wrt Manning’s detainment & lack of trial? Eg “Government must bring the case to trial within 120 days from the date of formal
    charges, or 90 days from the date the accused is placed in pre-trial confinement.” – from Rights of Military Members http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/law/rights_of_military_mbrs.pdf

      1. Any lawyers out there know if Obama’s statement overlooks certain violations of military law wrt Manning’s detainment & lack of trial?

        chris23, at least some 250 lawyers and professors of law think so:

        That link points to a statement over a month old, and the “250 lawyers and professors of law” (most of whom appear to be neither lawyers nor profesors of law) are objecting to the conditions of confinement and Obama’s statements about the lawfulness of those conditions, and not about Obama’s recent statement that is the subject of this post.

        1. You’re right: I took that list of 297 names and deleted any where the word Law did not appear – even though it’s possible that a lawyer could be teaching English or Political Science.

          There are 122 left.

          If Manning’s treatment was illegal a month ago, his jailers still broke the law, no?

          1. That list didn’t include Glenn Greenwald. He’s a lawyer too.

            President Obama speaks on Manning and the rule of law
            From the link:
            “But it’s long been clear that this is Obama’s understanding of “a nation of laws”: the most powerful political and financial elites who commit the most egregious crimes are to be shielded from the consequences of their lawbreaking [snip, snip] while the most powerless figures (such as a 23-year-old Army Private and a slew of other low-level whistleblowers) who expose the corruption and criminality of those elites are to be mercilessly punished.”

            I’d be deeply ashamed if Obama was my president.

  7. His response is somewhat pragmatic, even going as so far to say that even he is not above such laws. I have to confess that I’m somewhat sympathetic to his position.

    The problem with the Bradley Manning situation is that it awkwardly intersects the realms of whistleblowing and military intelligence. There are no cut and dry answers here, and the U.S. would be committing intelligence suicide by making an exception in Manning’s case.

    Unfortunate, but hardly surprising.

    1. Gosh, if only there were some sort of process by which we could use to plumb the depths of these grey areas.

      If only that process were guaranteed to all persons under the governing document of the United States.

      What would that world look like?

      Oh yeah, it’d look like THE ONE WE LIVE IN. Right.

  8. I think some people are missing the point – he hasn’t been convicted of anything, but the President has now already publically said that he’s guilty. This hugely prejudices the potential for fair judicial proceedings, meaning it’s now likely impossible for Manning to receive a fair trial.

  9. That’s unfair. Obama is responding to the civil disobedience argument: people who think that Manning should be freed and his actions were justified because they undermine an immoral, unjust war. This isn’t how the law works.

    He’s not directly asserting Manning’s guilt, it’s incidental. I certainly don’t think he’s handled Manning’s detainment well, but criticizing him for omitting “suspected of” or “accused of” from his sentence in an interview is rather petty.

  10. Well, like some people have said, I don’t think the legality of releasing classified documents has ever been a question. That isn’t the issue at hand. Saying that Obama has “declared” Manning’s guilt is just being cute.

  11. The irony of BO talking about not following the law.
    The constitution is the law. Read it some time.
    Only congress can declare war.

    Y’all need to watch _The Most Dangerous Man in America_. Ellsberg (a Marine) was Manning + Assange in the deadtree/meatspace world. Very inspiring.
    I was a first grader when the Watergate hit the fan.

    1. Keep dropping biographical hints, please, Major Variola (ret). One of these days I’ll figure out who you are.

  12. Followed the link:
    “Ellsberg’s material wasn’t classified in the same way.”

    No, Ellsberg’s material was classified WAY ABOVE
    what BM leaked. BM’s material was available to
    hundreds of thousands of mercs.

  13. I didn’t think there was any debate on whether Bradley Manning broke the law, was there? I mean there was classified information, which he had access to, and released to the public. I’m sure there’s a law somewhere that specifically states that what he did was illegal in the United States.

    Activists and whistleblowers usually break the law to promote a change in ideology. I thought the debate was whether what he did was immoral, and whether his actions should be commended or not. And then all of the facts about his treatment during imprisonment. I think he should definitely be on trial for what he did, it was illegal, but I would have hoped his trial had started by now, and that the outcome of his trial would be reparation.

    I don’t agree with the conditions of his imprisonment, but did anyone expect them to just ignore what he did and not have a trial?

    1. @Snowtred – Manning is innocent in the eyes of the law, because he has not been proven guilty. That’s why responsible news media refers to him as an ‘alleged’ whistle-blower / leaker, etc.

  14. Unfortunately laws don’t deal with systemic corruption very well, especially when the corrupt are the ones that get to make the laws.

    Breaking laws when the end result is a healthier society is to be rewarded, not punished.

  15. Any defense of the president’s position is made completely irrelevant by Catherine’s link.

  16. Err, have we really forgotten the tremendous debate about whether he broke the law already? There was a pretty solid chunk of time where anybody who thought he broke a law was asked to point it out, and any assertion that maybe he fell inside the bounds of a law that didn’t exactly describe his exact actions was considered a clear sign of insanity. There was a tremendous segment who felt that Manning hadn’t done anything illegal because, you know, there wasn’t a single US law that said it was illegal for folks named Manning to download a specific number of documents and hand them to an internet organization.

    This is really more of the same. Folks conflate their moral approval of Manning’s actions as having some legal meaning. It really doesn’t.

  17. Obama’s just doing his part to ensure a mistrial. Oh, wait. . . military court? Nevermind, he’s never going to get a fair trial anyway.

  18. Hey obama, YOU break the law too! You also piss on our Constitution and the fundamentals that our country was founded on. You violate human rights, endorse torture, dictators & tyrants, killing innocent peoples and occupying countries which pose no threat to us. The list goes on and on. Even your collage professor has turned on you and sees you for fraud you are.

    If Bradley Manning belongs in prison, so do you, bub.

    1. Even your collage professor has turned on you

      Must … refrain … from … art … related … sarcasm.

    2. it’s harder to find a more stark contrast than Obama before he won the national convention and after. i mean really, other than some key talking points, and a slight difference in style there doesn’t seem to be a lot separating the previous administration from the current one.

      does our president actually control *anything*?

      or do we have a shadow government of unelected officials in the State Department, the CIA, HLS, and the FBI running the show? I know I certainly didn’t vote for *those* fuckers, and neither did you.

      but having this figure head we think is in power is useful to someone, it’s probably nice calling the shots without having to worry about public opinion. as a bonus, you can fuck shit up hard and every 4 to 8 years you get a new public punching bag to take the fall!

      it’s like someone has invented the perfect dictatorship. wish I knew who the fuck it was. that’s the thing about the papers manning released: for a brief moment, those unelected fuckers had some light shown on them. i bet that stung pretty bad.

      …but what ever, its probably not that. the world is a complex place. maybe just sitting at the top and facing americas day to day problems makes you have to make some unpleasant hard decisions. like assassinating people, bombing villagers, starting wars, torturing people, holding them indefinitely without trial, spying on your populace, and probably a whole host of shit we don’t even know about yet.

      “Hope” indeed.

  19. I’m amazed at some the responses I’m reading here.

    Some point to a confession. Really? You know that’s real? Why, because you read it on the internet? That’s good enough for you? You know Manning wrote it? You know Adrian Lamo is telling the truth (for a change)? If Manning has signed a confession, you know it wasn’t coerced? You’re comfortable with the detention conditions that may have produced a confession? You didn’t sleep thru the waterboarding discussion of the last administration?

    Some are saying Obama is entitled to express his own opinion on Manning’s guilt. You’re comfortable with the Commander in Chief labeling a soldier guilty prior to that soldier’s trial by the Commander in Chief’s subordinates?

    What has happened to the skeptical, logical BoingBoing commenters I’ve come to know?

  20. Eh… I’m not the biggest Obama fan, but I don’t think that is what he said.

    I guess we are so used to having the word ‘allegedly’ shoved into every article that we assume the opposite if omitted. If added to the last sentence, would this even be an issue?

  21. This isn’t the first time someone has been arrested for disclosing confidential material to the press. A nearly identical situation happened in 1971 regarding a leak of confidential material about the Johnson administration and the Vietnam war. The leaker in that case, Daniel Ellsberg, was arrested and charged with a number of crimes under the Espionage act of 1917. The subsequent trail was declared a mistrial mostly due to the bumbling inadequacies of the prosecution.


    And I guess I don’t really know what people are upset about. Is it that they don’t believe Manning released the documents he is accused of? Or is it they believe that because he thought he was doing what was morally correct, he is immune from prosecution? Or is it the seemingly arbitrary fashion in which these sorts of laws are prosecuted?

  22. We’re not just a nation of laws. That’s overly simplistic. We also care about whether laws are just, whether the *process* of upholding the law is fair, etc. But the laws themselves are the basis for discussing those other arguments.

    But be that as it may, Obama in this case is just expressing the position that the government and the military is obviously required to take as a first step. It would be news if he said something different. More sophisticated arguments are layers on top of this.

  23. “We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate.”

    Nah. We let special interests and hidden cabals make those.

    “I just love the smell of change in the morning.”

  24. I agree with many of the comments above that state while Manning’s treatment has been extraordinarily cruel, and the delay of his trial potentially an infringement of his rights, Obama here is merely reiterating Manning’s confession. This isn’t exactly a whodunit caper, people. Manning admitted to releasing the documents, which we all know is a crime. We may admire him for this act of civil disobedience, but it was still a crime.

    I think the administration deserves ample criticism for not providing Manning with a trial in a timely manner, and I believe that a conviction for these crimes should not be so great such that his life is ruined (as it is being ruined right now). But to criticize Obama here for some isolated remarks strikes me as superfluous and petty.

    1. I’m under the impression that the online confession (the full text of which Wired still (to my knowledge) refuses to release) is not so cut and dry. If it is cut and dry, why the delay in prosecution?

      The “He broke the law. He must be punished.” crowd is correct on that point. Their error is one of omission. Their “the law is the law, morality aside” attitude doesn’t seem to carry over in regard to all the laws (domestic and international) the breaking of which were detailed by the materials Manning is alleged to have leaked. Knowingly handing people over to be tortured is a war-crime, is it not?

      1. Knowingly handing people over to be tortured is a war-crime, is it not?

        It’s only a war crime if the laws of war apply. Are we technically at war? If so, who are we at war with? Do un-uniformed terrorists/combatants receive the protections afforded to uniformed combatants as envisaged by the Geneva Conventions? If we are at war, and these terrorists/combatants should receive the same protections as traditional combatants (such as war crimes), does this mean we can kill them on sight the way we would normally target the enemy during war?

  25. We’re a nation of laws, not a nation of men.

    Except when one of those men is a President, then they do whatever the heck they please from having travelers molested to torturing prisoners to illegal wiretapping or even starting illegal wars. THEN we say screw the law.

    Welcome to the New American Century, new boss same as the old boss and just as hypocritical.

  26. I’m not wowed by this as evidence of a “so much for that trial” situation. The government is going to prosecute Manning; that’s based on the Department of Justice believing Manning is guilty of an offense. Obama, as president, then speaks to that belief. The lead prosecutor, also speaking for the government, will say the same thing, that Manning broke the law. Obama isn’t an outside, third party, such as a news outlet, that has to remain objective.

    1. From the article:

      “Apparently the President of the United States of America and a self-described Constitutional scholar does not care that Manning has yet to be tried or convicted for any crime.”

      I think that speaks pretty clearly to your comment. The president is NOT a prosecuting attorney, and I for one would like for the president to be very knee-jerk on the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing.

  27. If… the machine of government… is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobediance, 1849

  28. What is strange to me is that activists today expect to go without jail. In the past when people sat in the “wrong” part of the bus they went to jail and did their time, it was only later after years of hardship that they got credit and the laws were changed. I’m not sure why everyone expects a free ride, if it were easy to change the rules we’d all be doing it.

  29. The President is the head of the branch of government that prosecutes. You can safely assume that Obama feels this way about every single person facing federal prosecution, to the extent that he’s aware of them. What’s he supposed to say–he doesn’t think Manning is guilty? THAT would be unconscionable, if he was letting Manning’s prosecution go ahead anyway.

    Now, of course, if you believe that Obama is just another puppet of the vast international oligarchy (etc. etc.), and therefore any and all military trials are fixed (which is more or less the line that Manning’s enablers are selling) then yeah, I guess we’re seeing the grand conspiracy at work.

    1. He might show the same nuancing and parsing that he did when it was the issue of CIA tortures that was brought up after his election, or the similar issue of Bush administration crimes. Then it was all looking forward, not going to point fingers, doing one’s job in tough circumstances, etc., now it’s stripping of an American citizen of both dignity and his underwear. Murderers get the full Harvard urbane professorial handwringing and pettifogging: a hero and patriot gets a numb, dumb, blank statement of a banality regarding the rule of law.

      1. Lots of people don’t like Obama, don’t like how he governs, don’t like the promises he made, don’t like that he isn’t keeping the promises he made or that they thought he made, etc. That’s fine and doesn’t have anything to do with Manning or Obama’s comments about Manning.

        I’d have said the same thing if it had been President Chimpy McFlightsuit (as I call GWB because I don’t like him). I’d have been pissed at having to defend Chimpy, but it still would have been true.

        It follows if you want to make Manning into a folk hero that Obama has to be the bad guy. Manning needs an awful lot of help in that vein (even Assange is a more likely candidate; at least he can say he knew what he was trying to do), so Obama’s gotta be a REALLY bad guy. Like, a super-genius with psychotic indifference to the plight of the “hero and patriot.” Okay. But by definition prosecutors (and the Presidents at whose pleasure they serve) regard suspects as guilty of the crimes they’re charging them with. They’re allowed to say so.

  30. So what? Obama, as far as I know, isn’t suggesting we should skip the trial.

    Prosecutors, mayors, and chiefs of police frequently assert someone is guilty before they’ve had a trial. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion.

  31. That’s not even the point. Whether you consider him guilty or not, why the hell are we torturing him? What do we hope to gain? Is that really what we’ve become?

  32. Anybody who thought this guy wasn’t going to be more of the same needs to remember this next time they even thinking of voting major party. Run them all out.

    1. “I thought that being open source was the whole point of active democracy…?”

      And I thought that happy fantasy was obliterated when Thomas Paine single-handedly derailed a treaty with France in 1779 by sharing state secrets. Countries — even those ruled by laws openly crafted by a society of equals — still have to be able to function as countries. I think it’s important to remember when we are angered by abuses of secrecy — as we should be angered — that things aren’t better, just different if we let the pendulum swing in the completely opposite direction.

      Sadly, the admission that the world is a messy, ugly place just barely held in balance at the least ugly position we can manage doesn’t seem to score the President a lot of points.

  33. While I don’t agree with his current confinement situation, I think it’d be very difficult for anyone to argue the contrary. According to all evidence, including the man’s own words, he broke the law and committed treasonous acts. Is it considered cool and hip to defend treason, now?

  34. Mr. Obama, I helped elect you. I was overjoyed beyond all measure when you won. I can assure you, however, that I will help not get you elected again. At least when Bush lied to me, we knew he would, and he didn’t disappoint.

    You make more mockery of American justice than any other president except Nixon. Why? You campaigned on justice, ending extraordinary rendition, closing Guantanamo, ending Bush’s illegal wiretap program, ending our 2 endless wars created by Bush, and “transparency” in government.

    I should have known better. You have since becoming elected, reversed your views on all of those, started yet ANOTHER war in Lybia, continued funding for Bush tax cuts, the 2 existing wars, abused the federal secrets doctrines far more than Bush ever did, continued extraordinary renditions, have not closed Guantanamo Bay, helped allow retroactive immunity for the Telecos in the Presidential wiretap program and KEPT IT RUNNING, and made a mockery of the ideals behind transparent government. I hear the word “transparency” bandied about now constantly as the new buzzword, and in terms that no one achieves. It’s become a mockery of a concept now thanks to you.

    And finally, just when I think it can’t get any worse, you rub your stinking shit into the open wound that is Wikigate, and declare out loud, WITHOUT A JURY OR A JUDGE, that Manning is guilty. You are the President of the United States, and yet you act like a witchhunter in Salem to declare a man guilty of an act that he has yet to be even charged with, let alone tried in a court.

    You are an absolute, total fucking disgrace of a man, of a President, and of a “change we could believe in”. You are an insult to all that is just, honest, and right in America and the human race. I had faith for the first time in my cynical life that finally a decent human being, that believed in logic, reason, and civility would lead us. You are none of that.

    I will never have faith in any leader again thanks to you. I cannot. For I have seen what was arguably the finest candidate America would ever produce, and not only did he turn out to be nothing but talk, but his action taken was the exact OPPOSITE, on nearly every issue, that I voted for, and he promised to be.

    You are a hypocrite, a liar, a cheat, a warmonger, a walking injustice, and a fucking disgrace to honest, sane, and hopeful people everywhere.

    In short, fuck you, Mr. President.

    1. Well, at least you’re learning.

      I will never have faith in any leader again thanks to you. I cannot. For I have seen what was arguably the finest candidate America would ever produce, and not only did he turn out to be nothing but talk, but his action taken was the exact OPPOSITE, on nearly every issue, that I voted for, and he promised to be.

      Q: How do you know when a politician is lying to you?
      A: His lips are moving.

      Do the moral thing next election day: stay home. Showing up to the ballot box at all is a vote in favor of keeping the system as-is.

      1. Really? Staying at home is a vote AGAINST the status quo? Exactly how does that work? If you stay at home, you increase the value of the votes of the people who don’t stay at home, and who have been electing the people we have had running the government for the past 30 years – the Repugnicans and their Demopugnican allies. It’s been said that the last liberal President was Richard Nixon.

      2. Not voting means you’re letting other people choose your government for you. Staying at home is a vote against change. If you want real change, vote for real change. Don’t vote for either of the two ruling tribes, but vote for a party that really wants to change the system.

        It would help a lot of all the minor parties united into a single “Third Party”, with as its only goals: fighting government corruption and changing the electoral system. After that it can fall apart into Greens, Libertarians, Socialists and whatever else.

        It’s either that or marching on Washington with guns in hand. I’d suggest the peaceful solution.

    2. Well said. Your anger and disillusionment are justifiable and a great example of why idealists will always be disappointed in the people they elect. Obama was the closest you’ll come to being in a West Wing episode. Sadly, the office is for hardball, backroom-dealing, ideology-compromising men and women and you and every other idealist ought to do yourself a favor and not put yourself through this again. Stop voting.

    3. 1) I think you give the Presidential powers too much credit in a system of checks and balances.

      2) I think you’re forgetting the role of Congress and the Republicans who’re actually responsible for many of the things you reference.

      1. Hang on there. For 2 years, didn’t the Democrats have control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency? Don’t blame the Republicans for Gitmo, wiretaps, lack of transparency and the two wars continuing. Sure, they were a bunch of nay-saying jackasses – but the Dems had all the cards. Not a more ineffectual bunch of ditherers existed than during Pelosi’s reign. No Sam Rayburn she.

        1. Exactly. I recall two years of the President making calls to close Gitmo, pull out of Afghanistan, and open government up to scrutiny — and an ineffectual Congress that seemed to spend two years farting around and saying “sure, sooner or later, whatever”. I’m not saying Obama’s an angel or the next Kennedy by any means, but it’s ridiculous to place blame for all the country’s ills on his shoulders given our governmental structure and the checks that are in place to PREVENT dictatorship (cough, Shart, cough).

      2. Yes. By all means. Lets get partisan on the subject. That is working so well for us. I am continually amazed by the vast numbers of educated people who still believe that their party are the Jedi and the other guys are the Federation. They are ALL responsible my dear. And we are them. Both parties are a bunch of whores with a different blue print for a new world order. Meet the New Boss etc. adnausium.

  35. I’m pretty dissapointed at all these commenters who are COMPLETELY missing the point that in this country, a person is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. I’m not trying to be pedantic, there are very good reasons that we use words like “alleged” and “is accused of”.

  36. For a more informed, less hysterical, and less *ahem* factually challenged take on Manning’s situation (at least compared to what I’ve seen on every other news source out there), please see the following link:


    It is a blog written by (mostly) military appellate defense attorneys. Largely they are:
    (a) pro rule of law
    (b) pro military
    (c) pro rights of the accused

    Their posts on the topic are factual, dry, and boring. They like clear sourcing and do not appreciate speculation (I make no statements on the comments section, which ranges from brilliant to bog standard nonsense). And unlike the everyone else on this topic, they know what they are talking about.

    Be aware that military law is something of a backwater in legal circles and most lawyers know next to nothing about it. Even the supreme court got it wrong in a recent death penalty case and had to issue a revised opinion after they were publicly corrected by … wait for it … the guys at caaflog.

    Pro Tip: If your source for news on military justice cannot, off the top of their head, provide a succinct description of the relationship between the UCMJ and MCM, then you need a new source.

    Finally, if you’re wondering whether these statements by Obama raise UCI issues, then see the following links for some discussion following similar comments by Obama in the wake of the Fort Hood shooting.


  37. Big deal, so Obama forgot to say “alleged”, I’m mean it’s not like he’s a lawyer or something. And remember he’s the head of the prosecution so he’s supposed to assume guilt. Of course he’s also the Commander in Chief of the soldiers who will form the “jury” in the military trial, but hey, that’s nitpicking.

    Rock on, Amurrkah!

  38. When Obama said he’d protect whistleblowers

    Whistleblowing on what? Manning didn’t even read the material he stole and illegally leaked. So, exactly what do you think he so nobely blew the whistle on?

    Not that noble motives ever matter in the eye of the law. I learned that lesson the last time I broke the speed limit when I raced home to see my wife.

    1. You could try reading and find out? Maybe learn something about a topic before jumping to conclusions and flapping your mouth?

      Manning or whomever didn’t read every page of what they stole because that would have been impossible given the amount of data. I hear questions about why he would take this document, or that document, what possible use could knowing so & so called some foreign dignitary bad names be? Well the answer is pretty simple – it was Grab and Go. Do you think a thief stops to count the money in you wallet before he takes it? No? Then you really think someone could sit around for ages sorting through 250,000 documents to pick and choose which ones to take? Come on, gimmie a break.

      1. Which is it now?
        He nobely broke the law and should be declared no guilty because he knew and understood that the material he stole discovered an, as of yet, unnamed crime in the name of whistleblowing or, as you say, it was a simple “Grab and Go” and he had no idea what he was leaking illegally?

        1. Umm… I’ll try to answer what I *think* your question is.

          The logical conclusion is the party in question found evidence of crimes, so they grabbed that evidence along with other data that may have contained further information, and perhaps, additional crimes.

          What crimes you ask? Again, read. There’s tons of it out there, I don’t need to give links. Just because our government hasn’t/won’t charge anyone, dosn’t mean they arn’t crimes and sever wrongdoings.

          I guess to some of you only hard line law matters, not morals, or decency, not right or wrong.

          1. I guess to some of you only hard line law matters, not morals, or decency, not right or wrong.

            And clearly, you are the final arbiter of such matters.

            Leaving aside the legal aspect then, which is naive to the extreme, there is the issue of motive and morals. The question is whether his, alleged, original intent to have a “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms,” and his idea of discovery of something illegal in the “Apache airstrike” video overrides his earlier commitment to defend his country and fellow soldiers. Two things which he arguably endangered through his actions.

            Or perhaps he was just a regular but naive guy who thought he could stir some shit but in the process got way over his head and actually committed crimes that could get him a death sentence. Based on my speeding ticket experience I can tell you that ignorance does not protect you from the law or moral consequences.

            Antinous will have you believe that he should be compared to Mandela who served 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid activities and went on to become the president of South Africa.

            The good but sad news is (and I mean this without sarcasm) that history will judge Manning no matter what you and I post on Boing Boing.

            I’m out since we Godwined anyway.

          2. “And clearly, you are the final arbiter of such matters”

            You can’t get by without crying over a speeding ticket, so it only stands to reason you’d never stand up for what you thought was right out of fear of consequences. So yeah, clearly more than you.

            “overrides his earlier commitment to defend his country and fellow soldiers. Two things which he arguably endangered through his actions.”

            Stop listening to Katie Couric, Brian Williams and that other drama queen, there’s no truth in that statement at all. It’s silly really, you worry about what some kid did, but not about the over 4000 americans who were sent to their deaths in Iraq based on lies committed by bush, then continued by obama. Then there’s also the god knows how many innocent people around the world (we don’t bother to keep track, they’re just dumb sandmonkeys after all) the US has killed in it’s holy quest. Why arn’t you calling for the heads responsible for those crimes? Don’t those lives count? Not by your reasoning I guess. Not by a man who’s not even brave enough to break the law a little for “noble reasons” and his wife.

          3. But only some hard-line laws matter, because the government can’t hold someone and proclaim them guilty without a trial.

          4. Anon #112:

            how about GITMO? And lots and lots of “secret” places around the world, like Egypt for example?

            Reading = learning. Remember that.

  39. Obama: “And if you’re in the military… And I have to abide by certain rules of classified information. If I were to release material I weren’t allowed to, I’d be breaking the law.”

    In other words, don’t expose US military war crimes because that’s breaking the law.

    OBamba: “We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate.”

    Unless as president you decide the War Powers Act doesn’t exist, or that targeting US citizens (or anyone else) for assassination isn’t prohibited by (several) executive orders, or that the 4th amendment is simply quaint, or that torture/rendition is not worth prosecuting/banning etc…

  40. Some of you would have cheerfully hanged Washington, Franklin and Jefferson. And don’t even get me started on what you would have done to Nelson Mandela.

    1. Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Mandela, Manning.

      All in one sentence? Really?

      Methinks cooler heads are required and dial down the hyperbole.

      1. Were they not all traitors and reasonably subject to the death penalty under the laws of those times and places?

        1. Yes, they were all declared traitors; they do have that in common.

          They also have in common that all have two legs and two arms.

          What’s your point?

          1. That you declare someone to be a hero or a traitor based on convenience and petty prejudice, not on any moral or ethical grounds.

          2. You declared him a hero, not me.
            The president implied that if he did what he is accused of then he is guilty. Not sure where “petty prejudice” comes in.
            If by “petty prejudice” you mean habeas corpus then you are wrong.

            Manning is active duty and was active duty at the time the act occurred, Manning falls under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

            Not civilian Law.

            Under UCMJ, the President is right: Manning broke the law. Theft of classified data is a crime under UCMJ and can be punished severely. If the command chooses to do so and can prove it, he can be charged with treason, which, in a time of war, is punishable by death. Basic UCMJ, including what treason is and the punishment for it, is taught in basic – or was when I went through.

            Under civilian law, habeas corpus would apply, as would several other protections soldiers do not have while serving (including the entire Bill of Rights, which doesn’t apply while in uniform).

          3. Quick corrective point. If I recall correctly, Manning does have the right of Habeas Corpus. Federal civilian courts can review the decisions of military courts after petition for the writ, but to do so the federal court must first find that the issue being raised was not fully considered by the military court.

          4. I do not know the answer to that.
            Didn’t that exception only apply to ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ and Guantanamo detainees tried under the Act?

          5. The president implied that if he did what he is accused of then he is guilty.

            The president implied no such ifs; he said “He broke the law”. A pronouncement from an executive before a trial, which undoubtedly would color one if they ever got around to it. Just one more way the right to a fair trial is being ignored here.

        2. Were they not all traitors and reasonably subject to the death penalty under the laws of those times and places?

          If those are your criteria, you might as well add the likes of Aldrich Ames to that neat little list of yours.

    2. Completely off topic, but I’d just like to point out that Ben Franklin was an abolitionist at a time where anti-slavery views were pretty rare.

  41. ok, so by the same token, how about rounding up the war criminals outed in these leaked files or the fraudsters on wall street that robbed our nation blind – and stick them in solitary cages indefinitely? by this fuzzy, fork tongued logic, apparently all you need is a strong accusation of guilt to justify it…

    laws are meaningless without justice…


  42. Washington, Franklin and Jefferson understood that they were signing a potential suicide pact, and that by rejecting British rule they were also rejecting the very structure of the government around them, and thus, they were taking on the responsibility of forming a new political order and government.

    Manning and his supporters want no such responsibility or accountability for their actions. They simply want to break something for the fun of breaking it. They want all of the benefits, structure, and social organization provided by American government; but they also want those rules to apply at arbitrary times. In short, they reject the rule of law. That’s fine, I just wish they’d be more honest about it.

    1. Washington, Franklin and Jefferson understood that they were signing a potential suicide pact, and that by rejecting British rule they were also rejecting the very structure of the government around them…Manning and his supporters want no such responsibility or accountability for their actions. They simply want to break something for the fun of breaking it.

      Funny. I thought that WF&J were rich slave owners who were trying to skeeze out of paying their taxes, whereas Bradley Manning is trying to stop a superpower from bombing poor people and devastating their countries. Funny thing, spin.

      1. I mentioned nothing as to their motivations. You can talk about that all you want.

        By their actions however, they founded a new and rather unique government. It would appear they took responsibility for their revolution. Whatever their reasons for that revolution.

        But, who cares? Your point was never serious. You’ve got your conclusion, now you’re just looking for an argument to pin it on.

      2. The sad part about Manning, and I’m guessing here, is that he was just a poor, stupid dupe. And he’s likely going to continue to pay a tremendous price for someone else’s fame and hot lays.

      3. I don’t see how one could compare Manning to any one of the ‘founding fathers’. You can’t compare the crimes. The ‘fathers’ signed their own death sentence, and put up their time, money, and lives to make the Revolution happen.

        Manning didn’t DO anything other than get a bunch documents and make them public. But doing so didn’t bring some sort earth shattering, game changing, scandalous details to light. Thus far I think the most damning thing was that sometimes the wrong people were killed in war (gasp!) It wasn’t some sort of a ‘Watergate’ where there are documents showing Dick Cheney eating babies, and Bush being paid by BP to attack Iraq. Thus far the details are pretty ‘meh’.

        If there is some sort of a moral injustice he brought to light, I could see and be more supportive of his actions. Dumping files and making them public just because doesn’t give him a lot of marks in my book.

        Did the founding fathers deserve death? Yeah. And they only reason they weren’t hung is that they weren’t caught and they, you know, won.

        Not that I think Manning deserves death or the perpetual solitary confinement. But he shouldn’t get away scott free either.

        1. I don’t see how one could compare Manning to any one of the ‘founding fathers’. You can’t compare the crimes. The ‘fathers’ signed their own death sentence, and put up their time, money, and lives to make the Revolution happen. Manning didn’t DO anything other than get a bunch documents and make them public.

          And yet, the founding fathers not only remained alive and free, but continued to be rich slave owners in control of the new state. Bradley Manning, on the other hand, will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. You seem to have a problem distinguishing between your historical/political fantasy and reality.

          1. re: “And yet, the founding fathers not only remained alive and free, but continued to be rich slave owners in control of the new state. Bradley Manning, on the other hand, will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. You seem to have a problem distinguishing between your historical/political fantasy and reality.”

            And? I guess the point you are trying to make is escaping me. They both were treasonous – but the founding fathers escaped the authority of the country with who they committed treason.

            Manning didn’t and he got caught.

            Same crime, but two completely different set of circumstances and outcomes.

    2. Wow, guess you’ve been reading a whole lot of things I’ve never come across.

      Funny how the “rule of law” your defending isn’t even followed by our president, government officials and their corporate crook friends.

    1. Yay for foolishly knee-jerk reactionary comment posting! Yes, Shart, our president is equivalent to a dictator who committed Jewish genocide because he correctly stated that a man broke the law who, in fact, intentionally broke the law.

      1. No, he’s Hitler because they are both dictators. He didn’t use the court system to decide the moron, Brad Manning’s fate, he just decided himself. Dictator. Hitler.

        The great US of A is a corporate slave state. Obama is one of the leaders of this global trend.

  43. Now, might that comment be the thing that gets Manning set free – once the President has come out pronounced his guilt, it could be basically impossible to get an impartial jury.

    If it’s impossible to get a fair jury, can they try him?

    1. Click on the links re: UCI (Unlawful Command Influence) in comment #59.

      In short, this may lead to lots of papers being filed, but that’s about it.

  44. Tis a pretty tangled web in front of us isn’t it? So much so that making a comment on a comment made is wholesale condemnation of the maker regardless of how few hard facts either side possesses.

    Isn’t it time for a post about monkeys in space or the science behind cramming so many clowns into those tiny cars? (Do they all shout “shotgun!” upon entering?)

  45. I prefer 2008 Obama – a much more sane and humane person. Dr. King must be spinning in his grave.

    “Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process. “

  46. Actually, the Prez is part of the executive branch, which puts him in the same category as policeman etc. Legislative writes, executive enforces and judicial has final say.

  47. On the up-side, just think how much money this saves the government…doing away with those pesky “trials” and whatnot.

  48. “We’re a nation of laws!”

    Oh ya?

    What about the tortures, the abusive search and seizure with the hazardous porno scans in the airports, the anti-constitutional patriot act DMCA and anti-guns laws?

    What about the torture of Bradley manning and detention for almost a month without trial or due process?

    What about the states conties and city requesting a permit to demonstrate in violation of the bill of right?

    We are a nation of laws but unfortunately the government is not.

  49. A nation of laws? WTF. There are so many things you shouldnt have said and that one tops the list.

    Thanks for nothing.

    We are a nation of people, opressed by law makers.

    this is rediculous.

    America, a clash is coming, and i wonder… should i stay or should i go, if i go there will be trouble, if i stay there will be double…

  50. Change you can believe in!

    No more military tribunals for illegal combatants? Check!
    Close Guantanamo? Check!
    Troops out of Iraq? Check!
    Troops out of Afghanistan? Check!
    No more illegal wars? Check!
    No more tax cuts for the rich? Check!
    Reduce the deficit? Check!
    Won’t take campaign funds from corporate interests? Check!
    Won’t hire lobbyists for policy jobs? Check!

    This guy is a slightly smarter version of G.W. Bush, riding on a donkey.

    Why is anybody surprised about this?

  51. And yet Obama in charge is STILL FAR BETTER than the alternatives available.

    If that thought doesn’t cause you to lay under your bed covers and weep silent tears of terror for modern society at night, nothing will.

  52. No one in this thread has said the magic words that are at the crux of this issue: “improper command influence.” Those words are a well known big deal in military justice.

    Obama is the Commander-in-Chief. Obama has just announced that Manning is guilty, even as a court-martial proceeding to determine guilt is pending. Every commander in the military knows that’s a HUGE no-no.

    As a civil chief executive, what Obama said may be no big deal. As the commander superior to the court-martial convening authority, superior to the military trial judge, superior to every member (juror) of the court martial, it’s obviously and completely improper to everyone familiar with military justice.

  53. Fuck it at this point, let’s put in Donald Trump and completely destroy the United States.

    The United States is already gone anyway… let’s go full monté.

  54. Several people have commented to the effect that the President’s only alternative to saying Manning is guilty would be to say he is innocent. This is clearly a false dichotomy.

    There was nothing at all preventing the President saying that Manning deserves a fair and speedy trial, and will be receiving one post haste. There was no requirement that he express any opinion whatsoever concerning Manning’s guilt or innocence.

    A prosecutor can say Manning is guilty: that’s his job. It’s the President’s job to ensure that Manning gets a fair trial, and — if found guilty — to be punished according to the law (or at least to oversee the organizations that will do this).

  55. Obama authorizes assassinations of US citizens and foreign nationals, he maintains that he has the power to hold a “detainee” indefinitely without even charging them with a crime or allowing them to challenge their imprisonment in Federal court: his defenders say, “it’s not illegal, he has special powers as Commander in Chief during wartime”.

    Manning is in a military prison, awaiting a military tribunal: Obama’s defenders say, “he can’t do anything, only the Justice department can intervene”.

    Out of curiosity, would Obama’s defenders also say that Manning exposed no information indicting illegal behavior by the US (i.e. wiretapping the UN, concealing civilian deaths in Afghanistan, or a covert war in Yemen), such that Obama is under no suspicion of criminality himself?

    If the answer is no, then what’s the fuss about the release of such petty information (i.e. “Medvedev ‘plays Robin to Putin’s Batman”)? “Anonymous” officials do this for the NYT everyday. Didn’t Obama promise us more transparency? Didn’t we already know Putin is Batman?

    And if any of them agree that Manning may have exposed high crimes, then are they in favor of leaving the government officials suspected of committing these crimes naked in Quantico for the next year as they await trial? Or are they hypocrites?

  56. It has taken very few men/women to drop a dictatorship in an instant,
    Brad Manning is the antithesis of Bobby Sands (RIP)
    He will be remembered in history unlike the mechanisms that seek to destroy him as a human and a thinking being,
    whether you agree of his actions or not he took his stand in a democracy,
    The democracy that YOU voted for!

    By YOUR actions you have condemned him in the name of democracy!

    SHAME on you America!

    WE do not forgive,
    WE do not forget,
    WE are not American.

    Expect us…sooner than you want!

    Be Prepared for the #Shitstorm,

    Your Pizza awaits delivery,


  57. ima wade into this shtstorm just cuz I can.

    Maybe it’s the way I read it, but I didn’t take Antinous to be saying “Manning = WJF&M”. Just that the hard-line “follow the law to the letter” crowd, if living in the same area and time as WJF or M, would be baying for their blood. Which is quite true.

    It was an indictment of a structural argument, using their very structure. If tomorrow they passed a law saying “all mustachioed individuals should be shot on sight” would you shoot them (or defend those who did?). Same argument, less silly.

    Furthermore, I’m going to shoot every justificationalist argument cleanly through the forehead with 8 words: Valerie Plame. Innocent until Proven Guilty. Speedy trial.

    Done, done, and done.

  58. The president was stating a personal opinion and not passing some kind of official judgement and I am shocked that the usually thoughtful people at BoingBoing cannot make that distinction.

    Do you want him to say that Manning is alleged to have commited a crime when he wants to talk about the rule of law? Do you talk like that?

    1. Because the President’s opinion would never unduly bias a jury. I’ve actually heard a lot of people talk about Manning as an alleged criminal, thank you.

      1. anon: “Because the President’s opinion would never unduly bias a jury. I’ve actually heard a lot of people talk about Manning as an alleged criminal, thank you.”

        First of all, I want to say that, yes, the president was imprudent to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation/trial in such a matter, but I doubt that it would bias a jury anywhere near as much as turning on the 6 o’clock news. Hell, reading BoingBoing would REALLY bias them.

        Second, I’m talking about in general. Do people talk about Osama bin Laden as the “alleged mastermind behind 9/11” or OJ Simpson, the “alleged murderer of his wife?” I’m not saying that Osama bin Laden necessarily had anything to do with 9/11 (because, after all, he hasn’t been convicted of anything!) or that OJ Simpson killed anyone; I am merely saying that, in common English usage, people often say “killer” when they should say “alleged killer” and that, when the president said, “He committed a crime,” he was making a point about the rule of law and what he said would have had the same effect if he had said, “He is alleged to have committed a crime.” The latter just isn’t how people talk and wasn’t the point he was trying to make in the first place. (Also, district attorneys usually don’t say, “This man allegedly…” in court.)

  59. Isn’t the point that the Nuremberg trials following WWII judged that anyone serving in an army who witnessed or was involved in a crime had a responsibility to act and speak out against it – and was criminally responsible if they didn’t? Following orders was not an excuse.

    The video which Manning released surely relates to such a crime, and a nation more confident about the ‘democratic freedoms’ which forms the cornerstone of its psyche, foreign policy and indeed brand, should firstly be grateful when such crimes are brought to light, and secondly seek to understand why Bradley felt he wasn’t able to get justice thru channels other than large scale whistle blowing.

    The recent Rolling Stone expose of civilian murders by members of the US army in Afghanistan (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-kill-team-20110327 ) reinforces the need for those testifying of crimes to be protected, and the response by the administration to that so far seems lacklustre.

    This is important for America. When China is bigger economically than the US in a few years, it will be moral integrity and ‘democratic freedoms’ on which America will be able to stand apart and ahead – to remain at the frontier. If these are lost, then really, what is there?

  60. Manning is a military member. The POTUS is the Commander in Chief of the Military. He has every right (and duty!) to pass judgment on the actions of his subordinates.

    Now, we can talk about Court(s) Martial and undue command influence for a while, but the point of the matter remains: under military justice, this is legit.

  61. WHY do you think Bradley Manning released the “Collateral Murder” video to Wikileaks? It was NOT some amoral, impetuous “Grab and Go”. Manning was deeply troubled by what he’d discovered, and he deliberated for weeks before going public. Just read the chat logs between Manning and Lano. An excerpt:

    (03:10:32 PM) Manning: at first glance… it was just a bunch of guys getting shot up by a helicopter… no big deal… about two dozen more where that came from right… but something struck me as odd with the van thing… and also the fact it was being stored in a JAG officer’s directory… so i looked into it… eventually tracked down the date, and then the exact GPS co-ord… and i was like… ok, so thats what happened… cool… then i went to the regular internet… and it was still on my mind… so i typed into goog… the date, and the location… and then i see this http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/13/world/middleeast/13iraq.html
(03:11:07 PM) Manning: i kept that in my mind for weeks… probably a month and a half… before i forwarded it to [WikiLeaks]

    The link to which Manning refers, of course, repeats the official version of events. A version — which any of you who’ve seen the video know — is rife with untruths and the serious stink of a cover-up. Saddens me to see so many commenters here regurgitating the main stream media’s straw-man condemnation of Manning as some sort of bratty nihilist who breaks secrecy laws just for fun.

    Bradley Manning risked his neck to bring to the light of day a video which reveals some horrible business-as-usual practices that your tax dollars are financing. Practices which involve the jocular machine-gunning of people who clearly aren’t attacking you, which result in the deaths of journalists, which result in the machine gunning 4 year old children (sorry, not “children” but rather “insurgents”, as they’re referred to in the link Manning was so troubled by).

    If Manning is not a whistleblower, then the word whistleblower has completely lost its meaning.

    1. re: “Bradley Manning risked his neck to bring to the light of day a video which reveals some horrible business-as-usual practices that your tax dollars are financing. … If Manning is not a whistleblower, then the word whistleblower has completely lost its meaning.”

      I do hope that this video is not the only reason for his actions. If so, he is a complete fool. Releasing one video vs the data dump he did are two completely different things. The severity in which he was dealt with would be a whole new world if it were just one video.

      The video is a non-issue. It is absolutely absurd to risk your neck exposing – nothing. Bad things happen in war. That is why they have a special name for war. Otherwise we would just call it ‘happy go fun time’. People get careless, mistakes happen, it is just a fact of reality. I happens all the time. There is no whistle blowing, everyone is aware war is hell.

      1. Is ordering your men to ignore torture committed by allies a “mistake”?

        To shoot at the children in a car who’s stopped to try to help a wounded, trying to kill them? (That’s what they get for bringing kids to a war zone, right?)

        To ask your diplomats to spy on the UN?

        To give child prostitutes to Afghani troops as a gesture of goodwill?

        To lie about how many have been killed in Iraq?

        To kill someone who tries to surrender, because ground troops can’t surrender to a helicopter?

        These are not mistakes, they are deliberate actions. That the president is claiming he has to follow the law, yet he chooses to ignore these crimes.

        I’m not saying Manning shouldn’t be prosecuted. He shouldn’t be abused while detained, he should be given a fair trial and every single man or woman who’s crimes have been reviled by the documents he leaked should be prosecuted as well. The main problem is that the US government cherry picks who to prosecute.

      2. re: “I do hope that this video is not the only reason for his actions. If so, he is a complete fool.”

        No, of course, this video was just one of many ghastly things that Manning found. I focused on that one example in the interest of brevity, and because the chat logs clearly show that that video caused Manning to wrestle with his conscience for weeks. (Many commenters here mis-portray Manning as NOT having acted out of conscience).

        What troubles me is your (and many commenters’) cavalier “shit happens” attitude, and the briskness with which Manning is dismissed as fool who just got what was coming to him. Manning perhaps is a “fool” for making dumb tactical missteps (eg. trusting an unreliable confidant, Lamo), but was his basic intention foolish (the attempt to expose lies, treachery and injustice)?

        Also, Manning is a risk-taking, pint-sized, gay, conscientious objecting hacker who clearly follows his own drummer. Sounds like a potential ‘happy mutant’ to me. Why is he getting such a knee-jerkily damning response from (many in) a community who pride themselves on advocating for such folk? Fear of ending up like him, friendless and imprisoned? Maybe, as some argue here, there was no other option: the govt. HAD to put him in prison. But even if that were true, isn’t that horrible and sad (and not “meh, whatever, shit happens”)?

        1. For me it is less “shit happens” and more “what the fuck do you expect”?

          I am completely against the drug laws. I find them completely asinine. I believe at last poll, most Americans find marijuana laws to be outdated and favor some form of legalization. You can find some communities, such as Boulder, CO, where there are dozens of ‘medical’ weed dispensaries and 1/2 the population suffers from not being stoned.

          That said, if I were caught in Bolder, CO with a pound of weed, what else should I expect to happen to me? Are the cops going to send me home, or can I expect some jail time. What if I were caught in an even less friendly city? I and a whole host of others might find the drug laws ridiculous, maybe even amoral, but should I or anyone else be surprised at my punishment?

          As others pointed out better than I, the other big issue is that while Manning brought a few ‘bad’ things to light, a bulk of it is just ‘meh’, which waters down the ‘message’.

          Now – are there other bad people who have done bad things who never got punished? Sure! But hypocrisy or luck for one person won’t protect another.

          re: “Also, Manning is a risk-taking, pint-sized, gay, conscientious objecting hacker who clearly follows his own drummer. Why is he getting such a knee-jerkily damning response from (many in) a community who pride themselves on advocating for such folk?”

          Because none of those things alone (or combined) are automatically worth advocating. There isn’t enough value in what he did in order for me to be an advocate.

          1. I appreciate your distinction between “shit happens” and “wtf do you expect?”. Fair enough. But my (perhaps poorly articulated) point was that even if his imprisonment was expected and inevitable under our laws, it’s sad and wrong (just as your imprisonment for a pound of weed would be sad and wrong). The absence of that empathy from so many commenter’s posts is what I found surprising.

            As for the “meh” of most of the data he disseminated, it’s only ‘meh’ if you just don’t care. Look at the cables which showed that John Kerry secretly colluded with the Chinese to derail the 2009 UN Climate change conference in Copenhagen. You might say “Of course dirty secret politics happen all the time! What do you expect?” Well, I expect elected officials who are on a diplomatic mission to help save the environment to not make secret deals to undermine that goal. I’m not “meh’ about it. I’m pissed off and disappointed, as I am pissed off about the scores of other little ‘meh’ revelations.

  62. Manning is being treated cruelly as a deterrent to others who would be tempted to follow in his footsteps. It’s neither accidental nor surprising.

    Hey, the guy wanted to be a martyr. Let him do it. If he really ever cared about what he claimed to, it shouldn’t be a problem.

    I personally have a vastly less amount of sympathy for him than I do for the afghani and pakistani informants who have lost their lives because he decided to go for his 15 minutes of fame.

    1. You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, no one has been killed due to Manning. Or due to wikileaks. Go ahead and search and find me one, one person? See? Stop listening to those actors posing as journalist on nightly news.

  63. Why is anyone surprised at this? He violated the trust that was given to him by the military by revealing classified information. It was inevitable. It’s not about whether he was morally right or wrong.

    I applaud what he did, but he’s a dumb shit for not covering his ass; and now he’s going to pay for that. Case closed. Accept the fact that he is now a political martyr. No amount of hollering will change that.

    He will spend the rest of his life an imprisoned dichotomy; hero to some, villain to the rest.

    People can protest, they can write books and songs, they can lobby for his release, but he will never be freed because there is no other choice. It is simply not possible for him to be free.

  64. Benjamin Franklin predicted such a future for the USA:

    “It has been for some time a generally receiv’d Opinion, that a military Man is not to enquire whether a War be just or unjust; he is to execute his Orders. All Princes who are dispos’d to become Tyrants must probably approve of this Opinion, and be willing to establish it. But is it not a dangerous one? since, on that Principle, if the Tyrant commands his Army to attack and destroy, not only an unoffending Neighbour Nation, but even his own Subjects, the Army is bound to obey. A Negro Slave in our Colonies, being commanded by his Master to rob or murder a Neighbour, or do any other immoral Act, may refuse, and the Magistrate will protect him in his Refusal. The Slavery then of a Soldier is worse than that of a Negro! A consciencious Officer, if not restrain’d by the Apprehension of its being imputed to another Cause, may indeed resign; rather than be employ’d in an unjust War; but the private Men are Slaves for Life, and they are perhaps incapable of judging for themselves. We can only lament their Fate; and still more that of a Sailor, who is often dragg’d by Force from his honest Occupation, and compell’d to imbrue his Hands in perhaps innocent Blood. But methinks it well behoves Merchants, Men more enlightened by their Education, and perfectly free from any such Force or Obligation, to consider well of the Justice of a War, before they voluntarily engage a Gang of Ruffians to attack their Fellow Merchants of a neighbouring Nation, to plunder them of their Property, and perhaps ruin them and their Families, if they yield it, or to wound, main and murder them if they endeavour to defend it. Yet these Things are done by Christian Merchants, whether a War be just or unjust; and it can hardly be just on both sides. They are done by English and American Merchants, who nevertheless complain of private Thefts, and hang by Dozens the Thieves they have taught by their own Example.

    It is high time for the sake of Humanity that a Stop be put to this Enormity.” – Benjamin Franklin (1785) unpublished

    1. You’re quoting Benjamin Franklin in defense of Manning? Benjamin Franklin, founder member of the Committee Of Secret Correspondence? Seriously?

  65. Obama, Obama, Obama. I kind of feel sorry for him. He’s lost what made him individual and has also lost my support. He’s just another tough-talkin’ cowboy now.

    I still think he is head and shoulders above any of the other options but he, too is just yet another turd sandwich (or does he prefer being the giant douche?).

  66. There has been a little bit of discussion here about Obama’s mention of “open source diplomacy” but the topic deserves more.

    Manning’s data dump as far as I can see from a partial perusal consists of a little information about some things that are generally acknowledged as crimes, somewhat more information about things that might (but very arguably might not) be crimes, and a whole lot of stuff that details embarrassing and messy diplomatic dealmaking.

    In a civilian context, it’s as if I broke into my boss’s office and stole a packet of information which I then posted online, consisting of five pages about the boss’ falsifying safety reports, fifty five pages about his marketing strategies to undercut the competition, and forty pages about the holidays taken with his secretary. Leaking the first five pages allows me to claim the role of a righteous whistleblower. The other ninety five pages stir a generous dollop of “asshole” into my image.

    Can anyone run an organization of any kind if all their internal correspondence is made available for public inspection?

    Returning from the realm of analogy, is it desirable that the United States, alone among all nations of the world, permit all its diplomatic correspondence to be available at large? Will that result in a better or safer world? If one believes that America is the lone thug nation in a planet full of the pure and virtuous, I suppose the answer would have to be “yes”.

  67. And yet, sane people will still need to vote for Obama, because look at the Re[pu[bl|gn]|thugn]icans.

  68. PS: As a non-American it pains me to read the uninterested, accepting tone of many US comments that “teh law is teh law, so whatcha gonna do?”

    In many countries worldwide women can be stoned to death for anything perceived as adultery… It’s teh law, so it’s OK right? The bottom line is that the law is not always right and if you are happy to blindly support a set of laws that will so harshly persecute a young man IN YOUR NAME, then perhaps your cute little motto should be altered to “land of the free, home of the coward”.

    America is seriously going down the tubes if you are all merely interested in what the law currently dictates, not what the law should dictate.

    1. teapot, if you mean that the law should allow for whistleblowers in the military to point out questionable activities within classified communications while being protected from prosecution and reprisal, it does: Manning could have perfectly legally not made his reservations known to anyone in his chain of command and passed information to the DOD Whistleblower Program or any and all members of Congress.

      If instead you mean that the law should allow for whistleblowers to send classified evidence of wrongdoing to some guy from Australia and pad it out with a quarter million unrelated classified communiqués which contain no evidence of wrongdoing just for the hell of it, then yes, current legislation is clearly hopelessly inadequate.

      1. +100, Stooge. A concise and much more elegant version of what I was trying to say in #136.

  69. re: “In many countries worldwide women can be stoned to death for anything perceived as adultery…”

    Really? You’re going to compare an overly-harsh Shari-type law to laws against treason? Every country would have locked this guy up for doing the same thing. Well – some of them would just have had him ‘disappear’. This isn’t some warped sense of US justice. Treason laws are very similar across the board.

    He will get his day in court.

    re: “America is seriously going down the tubes if you are all merely interested in what the law currently dictates, not what the law should dictate.”

    Soooo – the law should be, “Don’t worry about leaking classified documents. It’s all good.” I mean, that is what you are saying, right? Because you seem to have issue with the idea that exposing classified documents isn’t a bad thing.

    @stooge re: “vette, most of the things you cite aren’t crimes, they’re just wrong.”


  70. @100 Anon

    “A nation of laws? WTF. There are so many things you shouldnt have said and that one tops the list.”

    You are confusing nation and government. The government is not the nation. We are. The government is supposed to represent us. It does not.

    We are going to take back our government by following the US constitution and kick out all the corporate parasites and nasty corporations such as Bank Of America, cock Industry, BP, Sony and Vivendi-Universal out of the US.

    The future of our country is at stake.

  71. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

    We can now replace that predicate with, “watch John Stewart and pretend to be informed,” or, “vote for either party.”

    Manning’s treatment by Obama is making good men afraid to act and bad men want to join him in politics.

    (…And don’t forget, it’s now only $39 to cut in line at TSA checkpoints when you fly American!)

  72. Why hasn’t Obama declared GW Bush “broke the law” as well ?? Unless Obama believes torturing people is ok…… and, maybe so considering the way Manning has been treated since being incarcerated. I guess professor Obama forgot his law school lessons on individuals being innocent until PROVEN, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be guilty, in a court of law and not by some decree from the “King”.

  73. Fred: Let’s find out who our masked Democratically elected official REALLY is!

    Scooby & Gang: GASP!!! Old Mr. Oligarch?!

    Obama: And I would have gotten away with it too! If it wouldn’t have been for you snooping proletariat kids!

    Velma: I don’t believe it! Your speeches were so stirring and your skin so non-Caucasoid!

    Daphne: Jinkies! Wait until the American people find out about this!

    Shaggy: Like, I guess it goes to show gang! You can’t judge a book by it’s cover!

    Scooby: RhI Rhove Rhu RhU RhS RhA! Scooby Dooby Dooooo!!!

  74. Look, I firmly believe that the President does not have the authority to convict an individual (he does have the power to exonerate/pardon).

    That being said, why not just assign Mr. Manning to the equivalent of a suicide mission (let him save face and die for his country) rather than charge him with treason for divulging information.

    Those are your orders, from the President, do you disobey?

  75. Guilty, not guilty. . .I dunno.

    But do not deny the man humane treatment!

    What happened to that bright shining hill on the. . .oh. . .right

    (I’m sorry, I forgot about the whole global dominance thing, my bad…)

  76. I’m glad after all this time he finally gets his trial, err, royal judgment. Now our awesome legal system can lurch forward. Let stage two of the torturing begin!

  77. Drama much?
    Seriously even Manning’s supporters aren’t contending that he’s innocent.

    1. Pretty much, but man ain’t the government trying to force a mistrial every which way but loose.

  78. “We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.”

    Actually EVERY nation of laws lets individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate, they’re called Judges.

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