The court martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning on charges that could land the celebrated Army whistleblower in prison for life, enters Day Two at the Fort Meade courtroom in Maryland on Tuesday.
According to Gosztola, here and here from Day 1 of the trial, it is clear that the government will be painting Manning as an arrogant, small man who “dumped” a load of classified info on the Internet, despite being trained on the consequences of allowing such information to get into the wrong hands.
Gosztola describes the Army’s opening salvo:
[Military prosecutor Capt. Joe Morrow] declared, “This is not a case about a government official” making discreet disclosures. It is a case about a soldier who “literally dumped” information on the Internet “into the hands of the enemy.” It is a case about “what happens when arrogance meets access to information.”
Morrow added that Manning’s training repeatedly had warned him of the “enemies’ use of the Internet writ large.” He had conducted research that warned him of the “enemies’ use of WikiLeaks.” He knew the dangers of “unauthorized disclosure to an organization like WikiLeaks and he ignored that evidence.”
Manning violated superior officers and engaged in an act to the “aid of our adversaries.” He used his military training to “gain notoriety.” He “knew the consequences of his actions and disregarded that for self-interest…(clip)
Manning, the military prosecutor argued, knew there was a “great value to our adversaries and in particular our enemies.”
Most interestingly — though not surprising — it appears the government will spend the next 12 weeks trying to convince the jury that not only was Manning fully cognizant that his actions would “aid the enemy” — the “enemy” being al Qaeda — but that he conspired with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to do it.
The leitmotif in this ongoing tragedy is that the government is looking for a way to finally prosecute Assange, who is living under Ecuadoran asylum in that country’s embassy in London. WikiLeaks in currently under investigation by the U.S Justice Department. Many believe the government is trying to prove that Assange helped Manning obtain, store and release the documents, which would make him a co-conspirator rather than merely the recipient of more than 700,000 classified U.S documents. Manning has adamantly denied this co-conspiracy scenario, but has admitted handing the files to WikiLeaks after being turned down by major American newspapers. WikiLeaks has neither confirmed nor denied it got the documents from Manning.
The government argued that a “pressassociation” account on Jabber was used by WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange himself and seemingly suggested that Manning had been “enlisted” to “help” WikiLeaks obtain copies of documents on the “Most Wanted” list (something the defense heavily disputed prior to Morrow’s opening argument).
Though no proof has been presented that Assange was actually using the “pressassociation” account, the government appears prepared to go forward and argue this as fact during the trial.
Also, the government claimed that chat logs showed Manning had “enlisted Assange’s help in figuring out a way to browse” the secret network with information “anonymously.” The government also suggested that Manning had helped WikiLeaks edit the “Collateral Murder” video.
The government’s argument went witness by witness and through each set of documents chronologically detailing all that the government plans to show over the course of the trial. It was a broad overview of what can be expected.
For their part, Manning’s defense posed the 25-year-old Manning as naive yet determined to do the right thing, according to Gosztola’s reporting. It was his experience in Iraq — which has been well documented as Manning’s initiation into civilian killing, U.S-condoned torture, the dehumanizing ritual of watching Collateral Murder-like videos over and over in the intelligence centers for which he worked:
[Defense attorney David] Coombs described Manning as “not the typical soldier.” He had custom dog tags that said on the back “Humanist,” a “religious belief he ascribed to and those values are placing humans first, placing value on human life.” …(clip)
Coombs said Manning struggled not only with his obligation and duty to people but also with an internal struggle. This led him to decide he “needed to do something to make a difference in the world. He needed to do something to help improve what he was seeing .”
He began to select info that he believed “the public should hear and should see.” As Coombs said, “If public,” it would “make the world a better place.” And he specifically selected documents he believed could not be used “against the United States” and “could not be used” to the advantage of a foreign nation.
Manning has already pled guilty to 10 lesser charges, but the government in its infinite zeal to make an example of the young man, is going for the one that brings with it the life sentence — aiding the enemy. It will call 141 witnesses for the prosecution, many testifying behind closed doors. In a statement, Assange suggested it was nothing more than a kangaroo court:
This is not justice; never could this be justice. The verdict was ordained long ago. Its function is not to determine questions such as guilt or innocence, or truth or falsehood. It is a public relations exercise, designed to provide the government with an alibi for posterity. It is a show of wasteful vengeance; a theatrical warning to people of conscience.
Conspiracy to commit journalism.