CRF Blog

The Manning Verdict

by Damon Huss

Civil libertarians and those concerned about national security have been waiting to hear the verdict in the high-profile case of Pfc. Bradley Manning (“Pfc.” refers to the U.S. military rank of  “private first class”). Manning has been on trial in a military court for the last eight weeks in Maryland for multiple charges related to his leaking of classified documents to Wikileaks.

The most serious charge was that of aiding the enemy, specifically the terrorist group al-Qaeda, for which army prosecutors sought a life sentence without possibility of parole. Today, the judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, found Manning not guilty of that charge. Manning was also found not guilty of another charge of violating the Espionage Act for leaking a video that showed a military airstrike in Afghanistan.

On 20 other charges, however, the judge found Manning guilty. In May of this year, Manning had already pleaded guilty to charges of misusing classified data, for which he faces up to 20 years in prison.

The charge of aiding the enemy bore an unusual historical twist, as reported at the Washington Post:

The government relied on a case from the Civil War to bring the charge of aiding the enemy. In that trial, a Union Army private, Henry Vanderwater, was found guilty of aiding the enemy when he leaked a Union roster to an Alexandria newspaper. Vanderwater received a sentence of three months hard labor and was dishonorably discharged. [more]

The sentencing phase of this trial will begin Wednesday.

See previous posts on Wikileaks here and here.

UPDATE (7/31/13): As reported above, in reliance on the Washington Post of 7/30/13, Pfc. Manning was convicted of 20 counts against him out of a total of 22. The Post article seems to have been revised to say he was convicted of  “most of the more than 20 crimes he was charged with.” The Associated Press reports that he was convicted of 20 counts, as posted today at ABC News.  According to The Guardian, however, Pfc. Manning was convicted of 17 out of 22 counts against him yesterday.

Edited 7/31/13.