Because treason is so narrowly defined by the Constitution — and rightly so — I think we should see more trials like this:
The judge presiding over the court martial of the WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning has declined to throw out the main charge against him – that he knowingly “aided the enemy” by leaking state secrets that were posted on the internet.
The decision by Colonel Denise Lind, who is sitting as judge and jury over the army private in a courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland, means that Manning continues to face the possibility of life in military custody with no chance of parole. The “aiding the enemy” charge is one of the most severe offences available to military prosecutors, and has lead to the accusation that the Obama administration is attempting to put a chill on whistleblowers that could have far-reaching consequences for investigative journalism.
This isn’t about investigative journalism. Manning revealed operational intelligence that certainly helped the enemy. And likely got Americans killed on overseas battlefields. That’s a BFD, and deserved to be punished with the full weight of the law.
Which brings us to Edward Snowden.
Snowden revealed a program, not operational intelligence, for domestic spying. That’s something Americans deserve to know about, so that we might punish (or reward, if that’s your thing) the elected officials who did this to us.
I’m not saying Snowden deserves a medal, but he provided aid — and discomfort — to the American people.