Writing in the New York Times on March 13, celebrated First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams said in an op-ed column, in reference to the Manning case:
"And what could be more destructive to an informed citizenry than the threat of the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole for whistle-blowers?"
Abrams, who represented the Times in successfully defending the paper's constitutional right to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971, was arguing that Manning's guilty plea to a set of charges that could put him in prison for 20 years should be sufficient for the government's needs:
"Private Manning's guilty plea gives the prosecution an opportunity to rethink its strategy. The extreme charges remaining in this case create a severe threat to future whistle-blowers, even when their revelations are crystal-clear instances of whistle-blowing. We cannot allow our concerns about terrorism to turn us into a country where communicating with the press can be prosecuted as a capital offense."
This was Abrams' final paragraph, one that the government obviously ignored. It is a measure of Abrams' timidity -- and the pallid coverage the Times has given the Manning case -- that he introduces "our concerns about terrorism" to blur the issue.
If there was terrorism in the well-known helicopter killing video, it was the effort by Americans to gun down children sitting in the front seat of a civilian van that was serving as a make-shift ambulance responding to the earlier carnage Americans had wrought on non-threatening civilians, killing twelve, including three journalists.
The video of this event on July 12, 2007, is called "Collateral Murder" by Wikileaks and can be found online on YouTube, on The World Can't Wait, and other websites.
If this were actually a free country, then we would be able, at a minimum, to watch the court martial of Bradley Manning, live, on C-SPAN.