Well, guess what? In news that fell through the crack (and was conveniently ignored by the Pretend Left) a couple of weeks ago, we now know that Manning's own defense team is essentially admitting to his guilt. Their defense is going to be based on a few things:
- The idea that the information released wasn't really all that sensitive and didn't hurt US interests, albeit they were classified.
- Even though the released material was classified, it really shouldn't have been.
- The chain of command failed to stop Manning from releasing that information.
In a very real way, this is an admission by Manning's defense team that he did, in fact, do exactly what the government alleges: release classified information without authorization. You see, defense lawyers are allowed to say everything to get their client off, except for one thing: they aren't allowed to lie; they aren't allowed to say something they know to be false. I strongly suspect that is the reason they won't be saying that Manning didn't give the classified information to Wikileaks; because they know that denial to be false. The debate is now about how sensitive the classified information were and whether they should really have been classified.
That - the standards used for classification - is an entirely different debate, and it is a legal policy debate, not a courtroom debate. With the law as is, Manning, as an intelligence analyst, especially as a military intelligence analyst, did not have the right to decide what "should" and should not have been classified. No individual as an instrument of the government has that authority except for the President. You cannot go and shoplift and then argue to the court that what you lifted wasn't that bad and really, shoplifting that item really shouldn't be illegal.
And don't give me the whistleblower crap. Whistle-blowers don't dump documents indiscriminately, putting other people's lives in danger and screwing with diplomatic relations.
Not that this strategy of defense - and the admission implicit therein that Manning is in fact the source for Wikileaks and responsible for releasing classified - should come as a shock to anyone. Manning's fiercest supporters staked his hero-ization on the very idea that Manning is, in fact, guilty as charged. While they kept whining about how Manning is "innocent until proven guilty" - the very reason he was glorified was that his supporters believed the allegations against him. They believed that he was a "whistleblower" who acted in a heroic manner by releasing classified information to Wikileaks for an indiscriminate dump. His supporters believed that such information belonged to the public domain. That's why Manning was glorified. If they didn't think Manning was their hero for releasing the information, there would be nowhere near the Manning-worship that we have seen.
And if the contention of the defense - and that of his defenders - that the information he dumped were really not that sensitive, then why did he dump them? If it didn't reveal anything new or anything crucial in international relations, then why the dump? Just to embarrass US officials? Is this a prank? If not, then the severity of the dump must be something different from what his defenders have been feeding us.
What say you now, Glenn Greenwald? Jane Hamsher? What is that I hear? Ah, it's crickets.