updated 7/29/2013 9:16:51 PM ET 2013-07-30T01:16:51

If the public has made anything clear, it's that it's ready to have a healthy debate about government transparency.

Today, NOW with Alex Wagner decided to air  the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” video (Warning: Graphic. Can be seen here) in a discussion of the Bradley Manning trial.

The video was released by WikiLeaks on April 5, 2010, making headlines across the world and turning the organization into a household name in the U.S.

It showed a military engagement on July 12, 2007 in which two U.S. Apache helicopters open fire, killing 12 Iraqis, including two employees from the Reuters news agency–Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen.

A U.S. investigation into the incident concluded that no disciplinary action was needed.

While Manning’s leaks may or may not have harmed national security (the administration says they did, Manning supporters want to see proof)  they revealed a side to U.S. actions overseas that  the public is unused to seeing except on rare occasions. However, if the public has made anything clear, it’s that it’s ready to have a healthy debate about government transparency.

Alex was joined by activist and courtroom fixture Clark Stoeckley and Salon’s David Sirota for the conversation. Manning faces 21 charges including “aiding the enemy” which carries a life sentence. He has already pleaded guilty to 10 of the lesser charges.

Army judge Col. Denise Lind is scheduled to deliver her verdict at 1pm ET Tuesday.

Video: What will be the effect of the Manning verdict?

  1. Closed captioning of: What will be the effect of the Manning verdict?

    >>> edward snowden may be in the spotlight, but according to multiple sources, at 1:00 p.m . eastern tomorrow, army judge denise lind is expected to deliver her verdict in the military trial of bradley manning . the army private accused of giving 700,000 classified documents to wikileaks. in closing arguments, the defense lawyer , david koons, said manning was a naive but brave and conscientious objector to the war time conduct of the united states . the defense made its case after the prosecution argued that manning had willingly given classified information to al qaeda and other enemies by posting the documents on the internet for all to see. aiding the enemy is the most serious of the 21 charges manning faces and carries with it a life sentence . the army private has already pleaded guilty to ten lesser offenses. ones that could put him in prison for 20 years. the outcome of manning 's trial is sure to have repercussions for edward snowden . both men have ties to wikileaks whose founder, julian assange, published manning 's leaks in 2010 and has aided snoweden in his flight from justice. while snowden 's leaks triggered a massive debate over government sae surveillance, manning 's military trial has commanded relatively little attention. the video are you about to see is graphic.

    >> line them all up.

    >> come on. fire!

    >> i think i just drove over a body.

    >> more to go? you can bring the rest of mine.

    >> that's their fault for bringing their kids to battle.

    >> that showed the killing of two reuters journalists in 2007 came to light as a result of manning 's leaks after the military refused reuters' request to access it. in similar fashion, manning 's trial has been subject to tight media restrictions. no cameras or electronic devices allowed in court and no official transcript has been made available. reporters are being subject to intensive searches upon entering the courtroom and are watched over by armed military police officer in the media filing center. joining us now from denver is salon columnist and best selling author, david ceroda, and clark stek ley. clark , are you one of the very few people that's been in the room as the manning trial has unfolded. can you tell us about the climate inside the courtroom and what you've seen so far?

    >> well, it is a very tense climate in the courtroom right now. we just saw the wrapping up of closing arguments on thursday and friday. the prosecution took the entirety of thursday to make their arguments over seven hours. ashton fine repeated himself over and over to basically filibuster the courtroom and the press attention on thursday. so that the stories coming out were essentially just the arguments of the prosecution. and those arguments didn't really add up. he was trying to say that bradley was an anarchist, that he was trying to gain notoriety and fame, but the logic there doesn't add up as to why he would do this anonymously. the following day on friday we saw bradley 's civilian lawyer present a very heartfelt case from the heart with no paper, not standing behind the podium, going directly up to denise lind and showing her the collateral murder video which we just saw there and telling her not to detach herself from what she's seeing like the gunners and the pilots in that video did on july 12th , 2007 .

    >> clark , i want to ask you, you were removed from the courtroom on friday. we know you are an activist. you had media credentials. there seemed to be a mix of media folks and activists in the courtroom. tell us about the dynamic there and why you were asked to leave the courtroom.

    >> well, i'm not able to comment on that. i agreed to come on this show understanding that we would discuss manning and not my banning from the courtroom. but i can tell you this. i have written a letter to denise lind . i gave that to david coombs and he submitted that to her and she submitted that to the garrison commander. i am waiting to see whether i will be allowed back.

    >> we have a tweet from "the new york times" reporter who's covering the manning trial. he says, in his tweet, creepy -- having armed military place in camo patrolling behind each row of reporters and looking over shoulders as we take notes on the manning trial today. is that the atmosphere in the courtroom?

    >> well, i think this trial has had unprecedented case of censorship starting with the fact that no legal filings and no transcripts, official transcripts, were coming from the court. and this is very shocking. this is a trial about secrecy and they've emphasized the fact that they are keeping track of all social media . the messages coming out and we've had, yeah, actually armed mps standing behind us while we're tweeting, posting our stories, and it is definitely an environment that is very tense and it bobbles my mind that they would be so clamped down on free speech when this is a trial all about free speech .

    >> yeah. david , i want to get your thoughts on the manning trial. because certainly the implications of this verdict are broad. the notion that manning could be convicted of aiding the enemy because he gave documents to an organization that then posted them to the internet. the interlinkage between the internet and aiding the enemy has vast repercussions for journalists in the future, whistle blowers , and people concerned about civil liberties .

    >> absolutely. i mean the conflags of the idea that if you put something on the internet, that means you're giving it to the terrorists. you're essentially publishing it for the world to see. yes, there are some terrorists nft world. but the government's case is a case that's essentially would, i think, create a situation where journalists would have to worry, activists would have to worry, whistle blowers would have to worry, the average citizen would have to worry that if they put something on the internet the government can turn around and say if the government doesn't like it that putting -- the act of putting it on the internet is an act of aiding al qaeda . it is a ludicrous -- it sounds ludicrous but you are right, it has a potential legal ramifications to criminalize the act of blowing the whistle and the act of journalism.

    >> david , you've been writing about national security concerns and sort of where we are at this moment in time with both snowden and obviously the manning trial in the background. you've talk about james clapper and his behavior, if you will, on the stand. i'll read an excerpt by james bamford in the new york review of books. "of course the u.s. is not a totalitarian society and no equivalent of big brother runs it. still the u.s. intelligence agencies seemed to have adopted yore well's idea of double think . clapper said that his previous answer was not a lie. he just chose to respond had in the "least untruthful manner." you think about that wording and you hear what clark is telling us about military personnel standing over media at a trial that's been largely blocked from american eyes and ears, or global eyes and ears and there is an yore wellian sort of strain here.

    >> absolutely. it is classic news speak. clapper is allowed to go before congress and to lie, blatantly lie to lawmakers who are trying to oversee the nsa. when he is asked a question about whether master surveillance is happening. there's no punishment for him or the government move to charge pergly for him. but they pursue bradley manning and edward snowden so there is a complete double standard here. this old saying that says, they're public officials. that means we're supposed to know as much as possible about what they're doing and that's exactly what the obama administration i think is trying to prevent.

    >> clark , there is a lot of debate over what sort of punishment both bradley manning and edward snowden should receive but the public editor of the "new york times," margaret sullivan , reminds us back in march of what we have gotten in terms of information from these leaks. i will read her word. imagine if americans citizens never learned about the abuse of prisoners at abu ghraib . imagine not knowing about the brutal treatment of terror suspects and u.s. government black sites or about the drone program that's expanding under president obama or the bush administration 's warrantless wiretapping of americans. this is a world without leaks. there is a lot that we are debating right now that we wouldn't even have on the table to debate were it not for these leakers. do you think in the courtroom at least there is a successful attempt to paint manning as having done some sort of service in terms of the national conversation ?

    >> well, it's been very obviously sitting in this courtroom listening to the prosecution there's been no evidence of any harm whatsoever caused by these leaks. i have seen, however, great things come out of them. more accurate body counts. we have an idea of who in guantanamo is innocent and why we've been holding them for so long. arab spring, i believe, is a direct result from the state department cable leaks. none of these things have caused the u.s. security any harm whatsoever. as david coombs said, the government is saying the sky is falling. the sky is falling. but the fact is, the sky is not falling. he also used the analogy of the emperor has no clothes. what of i've seen in five years of the obama administration is a complete reversal of his 2008 campaign promises to protect whistle blowers where in fact obama has gone after more whistle blowers . i believe we're up to eight, maybe possibly nine now. that's triple of all other presidents combined.

    >> david , i want to bring you in on the subject of the administration and how they are moving and/or responding to all of this that's happening. we know attorney general eric holder outlined some new guidance for obtaining records of -- press records. we know that there is news that we are transferring two detainees in gitmo. there is just an amendment that failed in the house but certainly did not divide along classic party lines . you had nancy pelosi and michele bachmann voting against it. you had other sort of strange coalitions. is that evidence that this conversation is taking hold in american society , that we are debating and trying to perhaps reform some of these policies?

    >> absolutely. i'm very encouraged by the bipartisan nature of the criticism of all of this that's happening right now. i think clark really alludes to what's really going on here. the obama administration is prosecuting people who are a political problem for the obama administration. they are not prosecuting people on the basis of national security concerns. the political problem that's what's raised by the snowden and by manning is the fact that the national security state is out of control and that embarrasses the obama administration.

    >> well, it is certainly a conversation that we will continue to have. the verdict is expected tomorrow at 1:00 p.m .


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