The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

August 2, 2013

Bradley Manning’s acquittal on charges he aided the enemy was symbolic ‘victory’ at great cost

ENID, Okla. — When U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy, his attorney declared the ruling a “huge, huge victory.”

The Crescent native avoided the most serious charge, but was convicted of espionage, theft and nearly every other count for giving secrets to WikiLeaks, a verdict that could see him spend the rest of his life in prison, according to The Associated Press.

Manning attorney David Coombs claimed winning the battle, but conceded that his client “is by no means out of the fire.”

Is this the case of an attorney simply wanting more business, and what is the lesson to be learned from this development in the digital age?

Do you release information just because you can?

“That Osama bin Laden could download these files off the WikiLeaks website (along with millions of other people) became justification for classifying the whistle-blowing as espionage, an act of war,” columnist Douglas Rushkoff wrote for CNN.

In this brave new world of online espionage, federal prosecutors threw everything possible at Manning to see what would stick.

Manning’s acquittal of being a traitor is a Pyrrhic victory, meaning it was a symbolic win at great cost.

AP reports that Manning faces up to 136 years in prison if given maximum penalties in a sentencing hearing that started Wednesday, meaning he could die in jail.

Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, told AP that most journalists are not in the business of publishing classified documents.

“They’re in the business of reporting the news, which is not the same thing,” he said. “This is not good news for journalism, but it’s not the end of the world, either.”

We’re all for transparency in government, but Manning violated his oath as a member of the U.S. Army.

And he deserves to be punished for it.

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