Bradley Manning Trial: Is Our Future an Orwellian Nightmare Or Information Anarchy?
By Drew Mendelson
June 24, 2013
At its core, the ongoing military trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the admitted conveyer of three-quarters of a million classified U.S. government documents to Wikileaks, is about the evolution of big data into a relentless and almost certainly unstoppable social force. Pfc. Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst arrested in May 2010 and charged with 22 offenses involving the passing of information to Wikileaks, is seen by many as a whistleblower whose actions revealed mendacious covert actions of the U.S. government in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and elsewhere.
Many consider Manning a hero on the level of Nobel Peace Prize laureates Martin Luther King Jr/ or Polish champion of democracy Lech Walesa. In fact, some 65,000 people already support a petition to award Bradley Manning the Nobel Peace Prize for the way the information he passed to WikiLeaks contributed to withdrawing troops from Iraq. Others see him as a traitor whose leaks have materially aided and abetted enemies of the U.S., noting that among the documents found with Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan hideaway, were a trove of the documents Manning leaked about U.S. actions against Al-Qaeda.
Manning has pled guilty to ten of the charges against him with a maximum sentence of 16 years. But the Obama administration, clearly alarmed at the ease of such a classified info hemorrhage, is continuing to try Manning on the other 12 charges. Wikipedia (which has no connection to Wikileaks) reports that the most remaining serious charge is “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense, though prosecutors have said they would not seek the death penalty. Still if convicted on that charge Manning could face life imprisonment.
The Financial Times, which has been covering the trial, comments that “The problems of balancing a free press with keeping secrets is bedeviling the Manning trial, with prosecutors estimating about 30% of proceedings will be shut, to protect classified evidence and the identity of witnesses.”