Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Judge holds prosecution to its burden in Manning court-martial

Col. Denise Lind, the judge presiding over Bradley Manning's court-martial has shown that she's not blindly following the Army's playbook. After granting Mr. Manning a few extra days credit for being tortured, Col. Lind issued a ruling that makes it just that much harder for the prosecution to prove the most serious charges in the case.

Pfc. Manning has been accused of aiding the enemy by leaking documents to Wikileaks. According to prosecutors, Osama bin Laden made requests for the information on Wikileaks. That, per the Army's logic, is more than enough to line Pfc. Manning up before a firing squad.

But in a ruling last Wednesday, Col. Lind granted the defense request that prosecutors must prove that Pfc. Manning was aware he was providing information to the enemy when he leaked the documents in question.

The ruling means that prosecutors argued that they shouldn't have to prove Pfc. Manning knowingly or intentionally aided the enemy by turning over the documents to Wikileaks. The prosecution wanted the jury to be allowed to infer intent. They wanted to lower their burden of proof to make it easier to obtain a conviction on the most serious charge facing Pfc. Manning.

But you can't infer intent from what might have happened. You can't even infer intent if there are documents that prove Osama bin Laden asked for material from Wikileaks.

Col. Lind also ruled that any damage assessments produced by intelligence agencies can't be used to determine whether or not Pfc. Manning is guilty - they can only be used at sentencing.

Pfc. Manning is a whistleblower. He exposed the lies our government told us. He exposed the criminal acts carried out at the behest of officials in Washington. The documents on Wikileaks embarrassed the United States.

There is no evidence that Pfc. Manning intended to aid the enemy. If he wanted to do so, why release the documents to Wikileaks? Why not just send the material to Osama bin Laden or one of his associates? Pfc. Manning was after something bigger than Osama bin Laden.

The documents on Wikileaks cast a light into the shadows and forced the roaches to run for cover. The world is a better place with more government transparency. We have a right to know what's being done in our name. We have a right to know what our public officials are doing. And the only way to know is to force the government to be more transparent.

If our government were more transparent perhaps officials would be a bit more leery in what they do, knowing that we're all watching. They might think twice before ordering a plan of action knowing that they are going to have to explain it to the public.

No comments: