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2011-03-03

Bradley Manning Hit with New Charges in WikiLeaks Case, Including "Aiding the Enemy"

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The U.S. Army has filed 22 additional charges against Army Private Bradley Manning, who is alleged to have illegally downloaded hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. military and State Department documents that were then publicly released by WikiLeaks. One of the new charges, "aiding the enemy," could carry a death sentence. We speak with Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and legal blogger for Salon.com. "Although the charging document doesn’t say who the 'enemy' is here, it’s only two possibilities," Greenwald says. "Either they mean WikiLeaks … or any kind of leak now of classified information to newspapers, where your intent is not to aid the Taliban but to expose wrongdoing." [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We end today’s show with an update on Bradley Manning, the imprisoned U.S. Army private accused of illegally downloading hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. military and State Department documents that were then publicly released by WikiLeaks. On Wednesday, the Army filed 22 additional charges against Manning. One of the new charges, "aiding the enemy," is a capital offense, which could carry a death sentence. But in a news release, the U.S. Army said prosecutors would not be recommending the death penalty.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by constitutional law attorney,

Glenn, you’ve been following this story very closely. He could face the death penalty — he’s facing a capital offense — so they say they will not pursue a death penalty. But he is accused of "aiding the enemy"?

GLENN GREENWALD: Right. Well, first of all, even though the government, even though the military prosecutors won’t recommend the death penalty, it’s still within the authority of the military authorities to impose it anyway, on sentence. They don’t have to take the government’s recommendation, and the statute with which he’s charged explicitly says that it shall carry the death penalty of death.

And the charge of aiding the enemy is really quite disturbing, because what that requires is passing information or disseminating intelligence to, quote-unquote, "the enemy." And although the charging document doesn’t say who the enemy is here, it’s only two possibilities, both of which are disturbing. Either, number one, they mean WikiLeaks, which is accused of giving intelligence to or classified information to, which would mean the government now formally declares WikiLeaks to be, quote-unquote, "the enemy," or, number two, and more likely, what it means is that by disseminating this information to WikiLeaks and other news organizations that ultimately published it, it enabled the Taliban and al-Qaeda to read this information and to access it, which would basically mean that any kind of leak now of classified information to newspapers, where your intent is not to aid the Taliban or help them but to expose wrongdoing, is now considered a capital offense and considered aiding and abetting the enemy, in that sense. And that’s an amazingly broad and expansive definition of what that offense would be.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Or it could be, Glenn, that the government has now declared a generic enemy that could include anyone in the world who is opposed to the United States who receives this information, because it is strange to claim "the enemy" but not say who the enemy is.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, in the past, aiding the enemy has been reserved for acts where somebody in the U.S. government, like CIA officials, like Aldrich Ames or Robert Hanssen, actually transmit intelligence information intended to be received by the enemy, by the Soviet Union at the time or other declared enemies of the United States, where the intention was really to put it into their hands and help them in terms of them being able to use it. There’s very few cases, if there are any, where aiding the enemy has been invoked in order to convict somebody who’s clearly acting as a whistleblower and not giving any information to the enemy, but simply intending that it be publicly written about and talked about in order to achieve reforms.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, what happens next, Glenn Greenwald? What happens to Bradley Manning and the conditions he has been kept in?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, it’s now been 10 months where, despite being convicted of absolutely nothing, he’s been held in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement under the most repressive conditions, not being allowed to exercise in his cell. The one hour a day when he’s allowed out, he walks around shackled in a room by himself and is immediately returned to his cell when it stops. Although the commander of the brig was recently fired and replaced, those conditions have not changed. So they’ve gone on for 10 months. They’re likely to go on for many more months, because the court-martial proceeding is not likely to take place for at least another six months or so, while these proceedings work themselves out. And certainly, someone held under those conditions for that long is going to be seriously psychologically and physically deteriorated, perhaps irreparably so.

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, we want to thank you for being with us, political and legal blogger for

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