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Il significato di Manning

Bradley Manning, il militare che passò a Wikileaks documenti riservati del Dipartimento di Stato e del Pentagono, è stato assolto dall’accusa più grave – ovvero Quella di avere “aiutato il nemico” – ma è stato condannato (cosa che, in teoria, potrebbe significare una pena fino a 137 anni di carcere) per spionaggio. MC pienamente concorda con le parole usate dall’editorial board del New York Times nel commentare il caso.

Ecco, qui di seguito, il testo dell’articolo


A Mixed Verdict on Manning


Lurking just behind a military court’s conviction of Pfc. Bradley Manning, on charges that included multiple violations of the Espionage Act, is a national-security apparatus that has metastasized into a vast and largely unchecked exercise of government secrecy and the overzealous prosecution of those who breach it.

Private Manning, a 25-year-old former intelligence analyst who served in Iraq, was arrested in 2010 and charged with the largest military leak in United States history. Private Manning shared 700,000 documents with the antisecrecy group WikiLeaks, and several international news organizations, including The New York Times, published extensive excerpts and articles on the documents.

Private Manning’s original leaks seemed careless in some ways, including names and details of American operations that The Times and other organizations did not publish. But there was also real value for the public in the documents about the conduct of the war in Iraq, including a video of a military helicopter shooting at two vans and killing civilians, including two Reuters journalists.

The judge in the court-martial, Col. Denise Lind, was wise to acquit Private Manning on the most serious charge against him — that he had “aided the enemy,” in this case Al Qaeda, by uploading the documents to the Internet, where he should have known Al Qaeda would be able to get them. Aiding the enemy is punishable by death. To convict under this law without requiring at least an intent to communicate with an enemy would have severely chilling implications for free speech, particularly in the age of the Internet.

There is no question that Private Manning broke laws. In February he pleaded guilty to 10 of the less serious charges against him, which exposed him to up to 20 years in prison. But prosecutors continued to press the more serious charges, which included violations of the Espionage Act, a 1917 law that has become the Obama administration’s hobbyhorse to go after government workers whose actions look nothing like spying. Under President Obama, the government has brought espionage charges more than twice as often under that particular law as all previous administrations combined.

Americans accept that material must be classified in the interest of national security. But that acceptance is severely tested when the government classifies more than 92 million documents in a year. In addition to the administration’s overuse of the Espionage Act and its overly aggressive leak investigations, the trust between the government and the public has been strained by the National Security Agency’s indiscriminate collection of all Americans’ telephone logs, based on a spurious reinterpretation of the Patriot Act.

The administration’s effort to chill connections between the news media and confidential sources in government did not work with Edward Snowden, who revealed the phone records sweep last month. And there are 4.2 million people who have security clearance to view classified information. But investigative journalists are reasonably concerned that prosecutions will cut off their access to critical sources of information.

When he entered his guilty plea, Private Manning said he was trying to shed light on the “day-to-day reality” of American war efforts. He hoped the information “could spark a debate about foreign policy in relation to Iraq and Afghanistan.” These are not the words of a man intent on bringing down the government. On the contrary, Private Manning continues to express his devotion to his country, despite being held without trial for three years, nine months of which amounted to punitive and abusive solitary confinement.

Private Manning still faces the equivalent of several life sentences on the espionage counts regarding disclosure of classified information. The government should satisfy itself with a more moderate sentence and then do something about its addiction to secrecy.

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