Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bradley Manning's Guilt -- and Ours

by Will Wilkinson

The Week
August 13, 2010

Government officials and apologists for America's wars are furious at Bradley Manning. The ruddy-cheeked Army private, now in solitary confinement in Quantico, Virigina, allegedly released classified army documents to WikiLeaks, the controversial whistleblower protection website. Manning appears to be the source of the video WikiLeaks released under the name "Collateral Murder," which shows a U.S. Army helicopter crew killing more than a dozen civilians with a mounted machine gun. Manning is also suspected to be a source of WikiLeaks' "Afghan War Diaries," the massive trove of classified files detailing routine military operations in Afghanistan. The series of New York Times stories based on the files paints a grim picture of a mission hampered by endemic disorganization, double-dealing allies, and frequently deadly error.

Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan, has called for Manning's execution on grounds of treason. Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen, the former Bush speech writer who rose to prominence through his aggressive defense of state-sanctioned torture, has called WikiLeaks a "criminal syndicate" — stopping just short of demanding the invasion of Iceland for the robust legal protections it affords organizations like WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Assange might already have on his hands "the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family."