10 USC § 904 – Art. 104. Aiding the enemy: Any person who—
(1) Aids, or attempts to aid, the enemy with arms, ammunition, supplies, money, or other things; or
(2) Without proper authority, knowingly harbors or protects or gives intelligence to, or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly; shall suffer death or such other punishment as a court-martial or military commission may direct. This section does not apply to a military commission established under chapter 47A of this title.
That’s the way the ‘aiding the enemy’ law is written and that’s the charge that Bradley Manning (25) avoided being prosecuted with today at Fort Meade in Maryland. By avoiding the worst of his charges, Manning also avoided the possibility of a life sentence.
Judge Col. Denise Lind, however, convicted the Pfc. on several other major counts including six alone under the Espionage Act which could amount to up to 130 years of confinement.
In total, Manning was convicted on 17 of 22 counts against him along with 4 other ‘modified’ charges.
He had previously pled guilty to 10 of the lesser charges and awaits sentencing on Wednesday.
Approximately three years and 2 months after his arrest in May of 2010, Manning, who his defense attorneys describe as “naive, but well-intentioned”, finds himself to be “one of the few people to actually be convicted of crimes under the Espionage Act” according to an expert at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.
And it appears his conviction has sent an alarming message to future providers of classified information for public viewing. Some experts think that the verdict will diminish the available sources of sensitive data to sites such as Julian Assange’s Wikileaks, which had been the primary recipient of Manning’s information.
Amnesty International stated that “it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that Manning’s trial was about sending a message: the US government will come after you.”
Assange himself has been holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London since June of last year to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges, which could ultimately lead to extradition to the U.S. and subsequent charges for publishing the classified documents from Manning.
And it is Assange who has called Manning a “hero” and who has offered assistance and support to yet another more recent leaker of classified material, Edward Snowden, whose fate lies in the hands of the Russian government as he sits in limbo in a Russian airport.
Written By: Daniel Dreier