Disclosures of government information happen all the time, whether by officials seeking to advance their interests or by whistleblowers exposing misconduct for public benefit. But only one person in our history has ever been sentenced to decades in prison for disclosing truthful information to the press and public: Chelsea Manning. The government targeted Manning for discriminatory prosecution, using the archaic Espionage Act of 1917. The vagueness of that law enables the government to go after speakers and messages it dislikes — often as it simultaneously leaks information to further its own agenda. For that reason, the ACLU filed a brief yesterday in support of Manning’s military court appeal, explaining why her conviction under the Espionage Act should be overturned as unconstitutional.
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Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a Managing Editor for OpEd News, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites.