While the corporate media covered every word, gesture and animated cartoon promoting the defense of Trayvon Martin’s killer, it paid little attention to whistleblower Pfc. B. Manning’s defense. They did report that military trial judge, Col. Denise Lind, ruled July 18 that Manning could face “aiding the enemy” charges.
This decision means Manning could face, atop a possible 154 years in prison for other charges, a “life without parole” sentence, should he be convicted of “aiding the enemy.”
Regarding whistleblowers in general, it means that those wanting to expose the government’s crimes could face the death penalty.
To illustrate the weaknesses of the judge’s decision, we summarize comments made by two legal experts.
The first is former chief military prosecutor at Guantánamo, retired Col. Morris Davis, interviewed on Democracy Now! on July 19. Davis said that the government is pressing the “aiding the enemy” charge “to make examples of people like Manning to deter folks in the future. And I think it’s a case of overcharging.”
Davis said that “Manning has pled guilty to the offenses that represent his misconduct” but trying to add on the charge that “he had the intent or will to aid al-Qaida is, in my view, absurd.” Davis also clarified that Manning would not face the death penalty because that only can be applied to a jury trial, and his is a trial by judge.
The other legal expert is Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, speaking to The Real News Network.
Ratner said that following the government’s rebuttal will be “summations by both Bradley Manning’s lawyer as well as the government lawyers. The judge will then make a decision … they will go right into the sentencing phase” in which mitigating evidence can be entered if he is found guilty of some charges.
That the “aiding the enemy” charge was allowed doesn’t necessarily mean he “will be found guilty” of this charge. “That she even upheld this charge is so completely outrageous,” said Ratner. (July 19)
The government claims Manning indirectly aided Osama bin Laden, the “enemy.” What Manning really did was expose the crimes of the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan to the people of the world. The people of the world are the real “enemies” of U.S. imperialism and the Pentagon, and Manning is the exemplary soldier who brought them the truth. Free B. Manning!