As Bradley Manning faces charges of espionage over the Wikileaks cables we ask if the US government is overreacting.
Bradley Manning, a private in the US army, has been accused of perpetrating the biggest intelligence leak in US history.
Now a military judge is trying to determine whether Manning should face a court martial. He could face as many as 22 specific allegations in the charges that include aiding the enemy and espionage.
“He voluntarily put on the uniform of the US army, he volunteered for military intelligence, he was trained, not just to protect documents … and he stole not just a few but hundreds of thousands of documents. He clearly violated his responsibilities and oath, and there have to be consequences.“
– Clifford May, national security analyst
Manning served in Iraq where he had access to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, used by the US government to transmit classified information.
He is accused of leaking government secrets to the whistleblowing site Wikileaks. Perhaps the most notorious item is the 2007 video showing a US Apache helicopter in Baghdad gunning down civilians and a Reuters journalist.
Hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and internal war logs were also published on the Wikileaks website – and picked up by much of the world’s press. Wikileaks said that was the largest set of confidential documents ever released into the public domain.
Manning was arrested in 2010 and held in solitary confinement for some time, sparking protests by his supporters. His conditions were harsh enough to warrant the attention of the UN special rapporteur on torture.
So, should Private Bradley Manning be on trial? And is the Obama administration being too tough on him?
Inside Story Americas with presenter Shihab Rattansi discusses with guests: Glenn Greenwald, a columnist for Salon.com who has covered the Manning case extensively; Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst and whistleblower who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971; and Clifford May, a national security analyst and the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“I don’t think justice can be done by court martial in this particular case because of the circumstances of the last 19 months. [If it comes to a court martial] this court martial [would be] incurably poisoned, I would say, by that misjudgement by President Obama.”
Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower