The Great Debate

Bradley Manning and the real war on leaks

Army Private First Class Bradley Manning in handcuffs for his motion hearing in Fort Meade in Maryland June 6, 2012. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana

The most significant dispute over leaks this week is not in Washington, where Attorney General Eric Holder is under fire for the searches of journalists’ files. It’s 40 miles north in Fort Meade, Maryland, where the trial of Army Private First Class Bradley Manning begins Monday.

Manning is facing a court-martial, or military prosecution, for sending 700,000 government documents to Wikileaks.  It was the “biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history,” as Reuters reported, and the U.S. government believes that makes Manning an enemy of the state.

In an unusual move, prosecutors are charging Manning under the Espionage Act, which targets conduct specifically aimed at injuring the United States, and under the military code barring “aiding the enemy,” a treasonous offense that carries a potential death penalty.

If prosecutors win, Manning will face the most severe punishment for the dissemination of information to publishers in American history. That could be a hollow victory for the United States, however, by chilling press freedoms and government accountability in the long run.

from Bernd Debusmann:

A counter-productive WikiLeak


Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

WASHINGTON -- Now that WikiLeaks has begun releasing a quarter of a million classified U.S. State Department cables from embassies around the world, a new era is dawning. Political change and reform are inevitable world-wide and at long last, there's a chance for peace and stability in the Middle East. Really.

This is how Julian Assange, the Australian founder of WikiLeaks, views the effect of the dispatches that lay bare the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy, provide frank and often titillating detail of the shortcomings and foibles of foreign leaders, report on the breath-taking scale of corruption in such places as Afghanistan and Russia, and note that -- surprise, surprise -- Arab leaders in particular tend to say one thing in public and quite another in private.

"The...media scrutiny and the reaction from government are so tremendous that it actually eclipses our ability to understand it," Assange said in an interview with Time magazine on day 3 of the data dump, which began on November 28. "I can see that there is a tremendous re-arrangement of viewings about many different countries. And so that will result in a new kind of harmonization ... "

The WikiLeaks story and criminal liability under the espionage laws

The following is  a guest post by Gilead Light, a member of the white collar criminal defense group with law firm Venable LLP in Washington.  He has worked on numerous criminal defense representations, including a jury trial on charges of espionage and other national security violations.

WASHINGTON, DC – The legal pursuit of WikiLeaks, a trans-national website devoted to publishing secret government documents worldwide, is reaching a boiling point. After publishing tens of thousands of classified U.S. documents revealing details of the war in Afghanistan, the group is now promising to publish more of the same.

The alleged actions of the leaker, reputed to be U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning, are likely violations of the U.S. Espionage laws. Manning was already charged under the Espionage Act with the submission to WikiLeaks earlier this year of a classified video showing the death of two journalists in Iraq.

WikiLeaks and the psychology of leaking

The following is a guest post by Kerry Sulkowicz, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who is the managing principal of Boswell Group LLC. He advises business and political leaders on the dynamics of authority and governance, leadership transitions, and psychological due diligence. The opinions expressed are his own.

With the publication last week of WikiLeaks’ trove of classified documents on the Afghanistan war, the focus has been on the devastating picture they provide of the war. But a critical piece of the puzzle is not being addressed: what are the motivations of the leakers?

According to WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, the documents reveal “the more pervasive levels of violence” and “the general squalor of war.” Sadly, that’s no surprise.