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Reasons why Bradley Manning's alleged Crimes are Serious and deserve Harsh Punishment

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PFC Bradley Manning by ImgShack

Note from the editor in chief: The author of this article made a statement that Manning and Assange caused the death of others. We support differing viewpoints and opinions on this subject but expect claims of this nature to be supported and properly sourced. Rob Kall

First, a disclaimer, Private First Class Bradley Manning is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This article discusses alleged actions and crimes only and will explore what should happen to him if he is found guilty of the offenses of which he is accused and how background colors the opinions of people commenting him.

I've been reading articles and comments from many of my progressive friends about how great they think Wikileaks is and how they think Manning and Assange are heroes. I have to admit that after the first item of interest leaked by Wikileaks, the video of what seems to be a US helicopter firing on unarmed civilians in Iraq, I thought to myself, this organization Wikileaks has done something important here. What happened in that video needs to be investigated. It might turn out to be totally innocent, but it looks bad and needs investigation.

I thought that was the point of Wikileaks, to highlight issues that need investigation. I was therefore extremely disappointed when I heard that the next thing being released was over 250,000 miscellaneous materials that are mostly diplomatic cables that suggest no wrongdoing that needs to be investigated. That was the beginning of my disillusionment with Wikileaks and as more information came out about the materials, their source, and the institution targeted, that disillusionment only grew.

Bradley Manning, a Private First Class in the US Army, is allegedly the source of the 250,000+ documents released by Wikileaks in the past month or so. The story goes that Manning, who had a security clearance and access to several sensitive repositories of sensitive US government information, brought some re-writeable CD media to work, Lady Gaga music if memory serves, and he erased that music and downloaded sensitive documents onto that CD media from the US Government's SIPRNet service. SIPRNet or The Secret Internet Protocol Router Network is described by Wikipedia as:

"a system of interconnected computer networks used by the United States Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of State to transmit classified information (up to and including information classified SECRET) by packet switching over the TCP/IP protocols in a 'completely secure' environment". It also provides services such as hypertext document access and electronic mail. As such, SIPRNet is the DoD's classified version of the civilian Internet. SIPRNet is the SECRET component of the Defense Information Systems Network.

Before we go further, additional discussions of the classification of sensitive documents are in order. There are three classifications of sensitive documents in the United States, they are "Classified", "Secret" and "Top Secret". Wikipedia describes those classifications as:

Top secret - This is the highest security level that if publicly disclosed would cause "exceptionally grave damage" to national security.

Secret - This is the second-highest classification. Information is classified secret when its release would cause "serious damage" to national security. Most information that is classified is held at the secret sensitivity.

Confidential - This is the lowest classification level of information obtained by the government. It is defined as information that would "damage" national security if disclosed to the public.

Several tens of thousands of the documents provided to and released by Wikileaks were classified as Secret, or documents whose release would cause "serious damage" to national security. Without mitigating factors then, we can say that anyone whose duty it is to safeguard document(s) categorized as "Secret" has committed a serious crime if they willfully and intentionally cause that document/those documents to be released without authorization.

Does Manning have mitigating factors in the release of this information if it is proven that he is the person who released it? For a few of the documents, and for those unfamiliar with the military, it would appear that an argument could be made that he does. Manning was upset about the video he saw that apparently showed a helicopter firing on unarmed civilians in Iraq. This video was one of the first things that Manning turned over to wikileaks.

The problems with the idea of mitigating factors, however, are several. First, of the 250,000+ documents and materials allegedly released by Manning, less than 20 or so at most are whistleblowing in nature. The rest are rather routine diplomatic communications that while routine, are embarrassing to either the US, or one of scores of other countries whose diplomatic messages ended up on SIPRNet and Mannings CD. Another way of describing the release of those non-whistleblowing documents and materials is an action that is harmful to the United States or other countries without any positive impact whatsoever. The release of those materials was a poorly aimed malicious act. Here are some examples:

That anyone would assert that these four documents, or the vast majority of the rest are whistleblowing or somehow make government better by sunlight is laughable.

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http://www.ibtimes.com/blog/steven-leser_103/bio/

A political blogger for the International Business Times, Steve Leser is a hot national political pundit. He has appeared on MSNBC's Coundown with Keith Olbermann, Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Russia Today's (RT) Crosstalk with (more...)
 
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In your otherwise incisive analysis you make an im... by Paul Sedkowski on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 7:14:11 AM
Well said Paul.Snip: "While fully understanding an... by Certain Quirk on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 10:36:36 AM
In here we praised Solshenitzyn's Cancer Ward and... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 7:49:04 AM
DANGER.Steven always chooses, w-h-i-t-e.For 'white... by Ned Lud on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 8:28:14 AM
It was as if I saw a bad dream. What a way to st... by Mark Sashine on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 9:17:56 AM
We are symbols to each other, we are in fact, idea... by Ned Lud on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 11:59:05 AM
On second thought... ....your leader sucks. Kl... by Ned Lud on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 7:56:52 AM
The archetype of the good soldier waging war to de... by John Jones on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 7:59:39 AM
First, I support no illegal activity and do not w... by BFalcon on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 8:15:34 AM
Precisely how much should the public know about wh... by Doc McCoy on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 7:52:21 PM
the true consequences of the Reagan administration... by Debbie S on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 10:37:14 PM
And let me try to clarify. First, I think that eve... by BFalcon on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 12:47:19 AM
At Fox News.... by John Moffett on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 8:26:01 AM
I suppose.Link 1 Link 2 Oh wait, that wasn't you... by Steven Leser on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 6:48:11 PM
It's true that ad-hominem attacks, unsupported by ... by Don Smith on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 1:56:53 AM
Wow, I am learning a lot about people in this thre... by Steven Leser on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 8:53:49 PM
No, satire ("ad hominem") is appropriate when a pe... by Don Smith on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 12:52:02 AM
How long do you intend on continuing to push your ... by Steven Leser on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 1:13:29 AM
When will you realize that... 1. John's joke rose... by Don Smith on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 9:39:55 AM
In an earlier comment you said," On the other hand... by Sherwin Steffin on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 2:22:44 PM
Steven Leser stated: "Manning's crisis of conscie... by Blaine Kinsey on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 6:21:36 PM
Besides not being able to spell my last name corre... by Sherwin Steffin on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 6:52:31 PM
I am reminded at this point of some silly old, old... by Doc McCoy on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 7:17:51 PM
... that had to be put down!... by Sherwin Steffin on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 7:23:41 PM
The zombie dog will rise again and bite your leg. ... by J. Edward Tremlett on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 11:01:32 PM
1. Stating that I am unable to spell your name is... by Blaine Kinsey on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 8:11:10 PM
Mr. Steffin refers to me as a junkyard dog that he... by Blaine Kinsey on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 11:44:12 PM
I watched Shawshank Redemption again the other nig... by Doc McCoy on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 11:56:59 PM
Thank you for explaining why you always "try" to h... by Blaine Kinsey on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 4:39:15 AM
I updated my comment to read: "No, satire ('ad hom... by Don Smith on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 9:04:01 PM
Spies on this web-site??? For congress, Military? ... by Debbie S on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 9:47:07 PM
If we had a MSM that still did its job, I might ev... by Scott Baker on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 8:50:22 AM
Steve, you can't have it both ways. You say that ... by Ed Martin on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 9:17:12 AM
It is extremely disappointing because, since Manni... by Steven Leser on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 8:36:25 PM
You flatter us (or impune us?). Whatever happens ... by Scott Baker on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 4:24:07 AM
It's fine when the complete openness and sunlight ... by Steven Leser on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 8:52:47 PM
There simply is no comparison between any individu... by Scott Baker on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 4:34:19 AM
Just another example of how the human animal needs... by Certain Quirk on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 10:15:17 AM
I disagree in so many ways. let's start with your ... by Rob Kall on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 10:42:55 AM
although I did not put it in the article because I... by Steven Leser on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 5:45:22 PM
There is the other side of the coin.First,I admire... by BFalcon on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 6:01:49 PM
When it comes to the crimes of this government, th... by Jeffrey Kaye on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 12:19:25 AM
I feel that you are looking at things through rose... by Doc McCoy on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 2:26:40 AM
You write:The DoD report on drugging was published... by Jeffrey Kaye on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 2:19:03 PM
"Like Mr. Leser, your job is to sew cynicism and p... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 5:14:33 PM
Perhaps you need to see how what you wrote prompte... by Doc McCoy on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 6:52:27 PM
and will add that with so many eyes on our Militar... by Laura Roberts on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 1:47:27 PM
and will add that with so many eyes on our Militar... by Laura Roberts on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 1:47:39 PM
Steve writes, "The military WANTS its members to r... by Don Smith on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 10:43:59 AM
Mr. Leser in his post repeats THE LIE THAT WON'T D... by Robert Wolfe on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 10:50:15 AM
Someone has flagged my post. I am new here and I r... by Robert Wolfe on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 8:05:14 PM
Here is a link to the VOA statement in my response... by Robert Wolfe on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 8:08:11 PM
Death and imprisonment to the enemies of Rome! We ... by Mac McKinney on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 11:48:54 AM
Classified National Security Information of Decemb... by John Sanchez Jr. on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 12:29:53 PM
Peace keepers vs killers by government. Who gets a... by Debbie S on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 12:54:54 PM
Is that the Military did come in to help with Katr... by Laura Roberts on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 11:18:01 PM
dealing with the classification of national securi... by John Sanchez Jr. on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 2:28:56 PM
I will try not to repeat too much of what of other... by Blaine Kinsey on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 4:13:58 PM
We do not know the outcome of any IG investigation... by Doc McCoy on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 9:05:12 PM
agencies or the CIA. The idea that the Army IG is ... by Steven Leser on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 9:25:08 PM
You state: "Moreover the IG does not have jurisdi... by Blaine Kinsey on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 10:17:35 PM
issue, the helicopters. The release of 250K docume... by Steven Leser on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 9:38:53 PM
Your allegation is contrary to the information in ... by Blaine Kinsey on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 10:49:32 PM
Again, nice try... by Steven Leser on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 11:16:00 PM
You must be furious that I am correct because your... by Blaine Kinsey on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 12:33:31 AM
but since you cannot seem to scroll down to find w... by Steven Leser on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 12:49:32 AM
Because you have been reduced to repeating incorre... by Blaine Kinsey on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 8:24:51 AM
Give upStephen has a job to do: defend the adminst... by Miriam Callaghan on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 2:17:21 PM
Some of the answers to Mr. McCoy's confusion can b... by Blaine Kinsey on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 11:42:59 PM
Steve, the statement below is unfounded and intell... by Cheryl Biren on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 4:27:01 PM
and I disagree.First, lets be clear about somethin... by Steven Leser on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 6:42:47 PM
Those looking for evidence of retaliation - for ex... by Doc McCoy on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 7:22:47 PM
in defense of your unsupported statement that assa... by Cheryl Biren on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 10:22:49 PM
We all know that the Chinese government is incredi... by Doc McCoy on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 10:46:27 PM
while i appreciate your input, right now it's not ... by Cheryl Biren on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 10:56:23 PM
Cheryl, a number of writers, both editors (includi... by Sherwin Steffin on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 8:41:42 AM
i understand your point. i believe standards shoul... by Cheryl Biren on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 9:06:37 AM
Your unconstrained anger at the right of anyone to... by Debbie S on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 12:21:22 PM
Just to get your facts straight, which you do seem... by Sherwin Steffin on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 12:57:11 PM
You were not a live in 1883.What fears? I have non... by Debbie S on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 7:44:19 PM
Manning is now being required to pay the price of ... by Doc McCoy on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 8:07:57 PM
Yes may-be theft, but lies, or has cheated, where ... by Debbie S on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 11:11:16 PM
....no, it was never trivial keyboard errors that ... by Sherwin Steffin on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 8:52:09 PM
Normally this would bother me, but it really doesn... by Debbie S on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 10:16:40 PM
Debbie, really? That's quite a stretch and really... by Laura Roberts on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 11:12:15 PM
I'm ready for your retraction that the use of Dron... by Steven Leser on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 9:23:05 PM
all taken care of. no biggie. i have gone in to my... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 10:23:24 PM
nt... by Steven Leser on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 11:18:17 PM
There's another difference between drone attacks a... by Scott Baker on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 4:49:50 AM
Trying to create ethical arguments for or against ... by Doc McCoy on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 5:30:37 AM
It's too early, apparently, in the history of dron... by Scott Baker on Thursday, Jan 6, 2011 at 3:05:19 AM
If one has any empathy for the ones being attacked... by Marta B on Thursday, Jan 6, 2011 at 5:20:31 AM
DIGITAL NATION, a Frontline documentary on techno... by Marta B on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 5:43:09 AM
This is a well made point. Having seen the militar... by John Sanchez Jr. on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 8:20:40 AM
Amen to that.Drone killing is no different then Hi... by Debbie S on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 1:26:13 PM
Leser said: "The problems with the idea of mitigat... by tombaxter on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 10:40:31 PM
are extremely difficult to define. There can be, ... by Doc McCoy on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 10:58:18 PM
He's really quite amusing with his complaints abou... by Miriam Callaghan on Saturday, Jan 1, 2011 at 11:24:02 PM
Your message in this article was almost perfectly ... by Rob Kall on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 12:29:46 AM
I've even done it at times, probably more than I c... by Steven Leser on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 1:06:37 AM
Most of this article deals with Wikileaks and not ... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 5:04:10 AM
click here... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 5:06:40 AM
It is the duty of every decent citizen (which incl... by Marta B on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 5:08:21 AM
We do not know if Manning, following the proper ch... by Doc McCoy on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 5:46:22 AM
Anyone who has ever served in the military knows t... by Marta B on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 5:43:44 PM
and it is outside it for a reason.... by Steven Leser on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 8:49:42 PM
Point taken... like a razor to split a hair...and ... by Michael Rose on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 3:26:44 PM
for seven years. Although it was in education and ... by Daniel Geery on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 10:07:58 AM
It is outside it.... by Steven Leser on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 9:50:48 PM
But who inspects the inspectors? I think they are ... by Daniel Geery on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 11:48:22 PM
Outside the chain of command, you have the Inspect... by Steven Leser on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 12:00:31 AM
I will be doing more homework on this as time perm... by Daniel Geery on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 12:14:57 AM
"The CID and IG worked in the case of Abu Ghraib."... by Don Smith on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 12:43:39 AM
A Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel were also brought... by Steven Leser on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 12:54:15 AM
The article you link to says "On August 28, 2007, ... by Don Smith on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 1:18:17 AM
from Alternet addresses at least some concerns rai... by Daniel Geery on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 10:46:40 AM
I know a lot of people here want to lionize Mannin... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 12:51:05 PM
this thread. As soon as the suggestion is applied ... by Steven Leser on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 9:55:57 PM
And I will try to contributeFirst, I assume that t... by BFalcon on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 10:15:05 AM
Steven clearly erred by stating that someone IS de... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 1:00:28 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhZk8ronces... by William Chappell on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 5:03:59 PM
* - I edited my article to say "likely" caused dea... by Steven Leser on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 5:53:15 PM
it's ironic that you are being asked to produce ev... by Sherwin Steffin on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 8:17:21 PM
Manning's civilian lawyer is attempting to obtain ... by Doc McCoy on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 9:06:20 PM
But that's OK. I am addressing it through proper c... by Steven Leser on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 12:40:20 AM
That was the right thing to do. Never easy, but ri... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, Jan 2, 2011 at 11:05:14 PM
Of just "caused deaths." I'm editing my initial re... by Kevin Gosztola on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 7:53:47 AM
Kevin, It is unclear whether you merely wish to b... by Sherwin Steffin on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 9:13:00 AM
That what Steven said is pure hogwash. I just thin... by Kevin Gosztola on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 9:29:22 AM
Could the same arguments have been made about the ... by Don Smith on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 1:25:37 AM
You nailed it.But some people believe that all ord... by Marta B on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 2:56:40 AM
is that "higher law?" I suspect that it cannot be... by Doc McCoy on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 4:07:39 AM
"Higher law" should be in the Constitution and "tr... by BFalcon on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 10:40:28 AM
When you talk about those who "... can't feel the ... by Sherwin Steffin on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 5:23:06 PM
To the main issue which I wanted to point out, nam... by BFalcon on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 6:23:11 PM
Both can easily be debunked and proven to be false... by Kevin Gosztola on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 8:18:01 AM
It is a shame that we here engage in this discuss... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 9:17:00 AM
and get away from the wholesale condemnation of pe... by Doc McCoy on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 10:19:48 AM
that at the organizations on the public retainer... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 11:41:47 AM
"... Our army is not some cast. It is accountable ... by Sherwin Steffin on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 3:19:19 PM
I once answered to your comment. If you do not ... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 3:36:50 PM
It would appear that team Manning/Assange has empo... by Natalie Oberman on Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011 at 10:43:18 AM
Hmmm... It seems to me that much of the confusio... by Paul Sedkowski on Thursday, Jan 6, 2011 at 8:08:01 PM
A superb effort at criticizing the messenger whose... by Doc McCoy on Friday, Jan 7, 2011 at 12:15:25 AM
While I admittedly haven't posted any revelations,... by Paul Sedkowski on Friday, Jan 7, 2011 at 5:06:23 AM