Some people are calling it the most important trial in American history. It’s going on right now, but you may not have heard much about it.
Some people are calling it the most important trial in American history. It’s going on right now, but you may not have heard much about it. You may not even know who is on trial, where the trial is being held, what the charges are, or the names of the defense attorneys and prosecutors.
You certainly are not familiar with the totality of the evidence that has been presented in court against the accused, because even his own lawyers have not been accorded that privilege.
In fact, the trial is so secretive, and some of the evidence being presented in court is so sensitive, that much of it will be discussed in closed courtroom sessions. At least four of the prosecution witnesses will testify anonymously, and the defense team will not be able to interview them.
I’m talking about the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, which began last week in Fort Meade, Maryland. The 25-year-old soldier has been charged by the government with 22 counts, including aiding the enemy, stealing U.S. government property, espionage, and computer crimes. The government claims his crimes constituted support for al-Qaida and international terrorism. He faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
Manning has admitted leaking thousands of classified government documents that he felt exposed U. S. war atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan to Wikileaks, after he unsuccessfully tried to give the documents to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
He did not try to sell the information to any government or other entity that could have been considered an enemy of the United States. He claims to have been so disturbed by how he saw America conducting the war in Iraq, as opposed to the official version of the war, that he felt compelled to get this information out.
The incident that really set Manning off was the infamous 2007 video known as “collateral murder,” taken from an American Apache helicopter. That video graphically shows a brutal attack on civilians on a Baghdad street. They were mistakenly presumed to be armed insurgents.
Manning told the court that he was upset by the video.
He claims that he is a whistleblower who meant to cause no harm to the United States or to put any American soldiers in danger. He simply felt that everyone should know the truth about what our government was doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he claims to have a clear conscience for having exposed that truth. He could quite possibly spend the rest of his life is prison for doing so.