The U.S. today charged Bradley Manning with a variety of crimes relating to his alleged leaks of classified material to WikiLeaks, most prominently including the Apache attack video that spawned worldwide debate over the American occupation. The 22-year-old whistle-blower faces 52 years in prison. Marcy Wheeler has interesting analysis of the charges, including some contradictions with the account previously offered by Wired, and I'll have more on this shortly, but for now, I just wanted to review the contemporary rules governing the Rule of Law in the U.S.:
* If you shoot and kill unarmed rescuers of the wounded while occupying their country and severely wound their unarmed children sitting in a van -- or if you authorize that conduct -- your actions are commended.
* If you help wreck the world economy with fraud and cause hundreds of millions of people untold suffering, you collect tens of millions of dollars in bonuses.
* If you disclose to the world evidence of war crimes, government lawbreaking, or serious corruption, or otherwise embarrass the U.S., you will be swiftly prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and face decades in prison.
I hope those rules are clear because, as this all shows, Justice is Blind and We're All Equal Before the Law. In America -- clearly -- these are not mere slogans. WikiLeaks said today, and I agree, that "if the charges against Manning are true, he will be the Daniel Ellsberg of our times." Ellsberg himself has said the same. Perhaps Manning should have tortured people or criminally eavesdropped on Americans as he leaked these documents; then he could have availed himself of that sweet Presidential protective shield. As was true for Ellsberg, the issue isn't that Manning is being prosecuted; the issue is the extreme disparities in how such decisions are made and what that reveals about the objectives and priorities of those responsible for these decisions.
UPDATE: The discussion over the charging documents at Marcy Wheeler's blog reveals just how many important, unanswered questions there continue to be in this case. That fact, combined with the obvious seriousness of this case, render absolutely inexcusable Wired's ongoing concealment of the Manning/Lamo chat logs except for the very heavily edited parts they selectively released. Yet again, we find an outlet claiming it engages in "journalism" to be playing the lead role in concealing key facts.