Whether the Obama administration wanted to punish Bradley Manning with three years of pre-trial imprisonment under the worst conditions, or was just incompetent is a small detail, neither of which reflects well on it.
Well, the court-martial of Bradley Manning is really the last ugly chapter of our sordid and ugly Iraq War. A war that we rushed into catastrophically, in no small part because of extreme government secrecy, is now ending in the trial of a truth teller behind a veil of extreme government secrecy. Now, none of the CIA torturers, much less Bush and Cheney, were put on trial, but Washington has finally found a scapegoat in a young Army private who leaked these important documents. Now, to put things in perspective, this is the biggest security breach in U.S. history, but it’s also less than 1 percent of what Washington classifies in a given year. It has not put us on the brink of total transparency. It has not caused diplomatic Armageddon. And there is no concrete evidence whatsoever that any civilian or soldier has been harmed by the leaks. On the other hand, we have a very clear understanding of what the Iraq War was really all about and what our Afghan War is still all about. And the leaks have sparked important debates and even reforms, and in the case of Tunisia, did help spark an uprising that overthrew a hated dictator there. What’s not to like?
Absolutely nothing. But it’s all in the framing. The prosecution had its own perspective.
In an hour-long opening statement for the prosecution on Monday, Captain Joe Morrow told the court martial that the US army private had been motivated by a craving for “notoriety” that had led him to disregard his extensive training and to the “aid of our adversaries”.