Today, Bradley Manning was found guilty of violating the Espionage Act by releasing hundreds of thousands of documents from the military and the State Department to WikiLeaks in 2011. Though Manning had already pled guilty to some charges, the government wanted to convict him not only of violating classification rules, but of something far more serious, and on that, they failed. And a good thing, too.
The government had essentially charged Manning with treason, but since the Constitution sets a high bar for that crime, they called it "aiding the enemy." The rationale was that since Manning must surely have been aware that al Qaeda reads the internet, when he gave the documents to WikiLeaks he was for all intents and purposes giving them to al Qaeda. The judge, while convicting Manning on the Espionage Act charges, found him not guilty of aiding the enemy.
It's one thing to have only limited sympathy for Manning—after all, he didn't just leak evidence of government malfeasance, he leaked hundreds of thousands of documents, most of which showed no one doing anything wrong, and the indiscriminate dump surely did damage to American diplomatic efforts. But if he had been convicted of "aiding the enemy," it would have set an extremely dangerous precedent. National security leaks happen all the time—those who report on the topic wouldn't be able to do their jobs without them—and if every time someone in the Pentagon passed a tidbit to a reporter they could be charged with something akin to treason, the chilling effect would be, well, chilling.
Manning was many things—you can call him misguided, overzealous, or foolish if you like. But had the court called him a traitor, we would have entered territory we don't want to visit. That is, if we want our democracy to be one in which the people have an inherent right to know what the government does in their name.
SO THEY SAY
"Look, there are no gimmicks that create jobs. There are no simple tricks to grow the economy. What we need is a serious, steady, long-term American strategy that reverses the long erosion of middle class security and gives everyone a fair shot to get ahead. More good jobs that pay decent wages. A better bargain for the middle class. An economy that grows from the middle-out. This isn’t what I’m going to focus on just for the next few months; this is what I’m going to focus on for every one of the 1,270 days left in my presidency. Because this is where I believe America needs to go.
DAILY MEME: 2016 IS SERVED, WITH A SIDE OF SUPER PACS
- In case you missed it, President Obama and Hillary Clinton had lunch yesterday.
- Friendship was served. But it wasn't just lunch. No, no. We must analyze what it all means for 2016!
- Chris Cillizza writes that sometimes a lunch is a lunch ... but while we're at it, don't you think Hillary Clinton 2016 could look just like Barack Obama 2012?
- This morning, she followed up the White House luncheon with scrambled eggs and turkey bacon with Joe Biden, a menu curiously similar to what they could be eating at diners in the midwest a few years from now.
- The super PAC currently orchestrating the pre-party for the potential Clinton campaign, Ready for Hillary, announced today that they've raised over $1 million.
- And yet, Hillz says nothing! "It’s what we call complete and total deep radio silence," said one of the super PAC's advisors.
- No fear. We have the three Hillary Clinton movies currently in production to keep the former first lady on our radar.
- And, if she does decide to run, there is a whole team of interns in New York who lied about interest in the mayoral race just so they could get close to the Hillary network!
- And don't you dare start wondering what effect the mayoral election could have on 2016, or face David Axelrod's scorn. “That speculation is just a parlor game for political junkies who can’t wait for the 2016 race to begin.”
- It isn't all sunshine and roses on the Hillary speculation front though. The anti-Hillary super PACs are starting to staff up too, although we still have years and years to go before the first primary.
- According to the Ready for Hillary team, a new supporter joins the cause every nine seconds, so by the time the election rolls around, Hillary should have no problem securing 100 percent of the national vote—even if she doesn't run.
WHAT WE'RE WRITING
- In Florida, school policies lead to the suspension of a disproportionate number of black students and often end in arrest. Bryce Stucki writes about the protesters who aim to change that.
- Iowa is home to the nation’s largest abortion telemedicine program. Amelia Thomson-Deveaux explains why anti-abortion activists are trying to shut it down.
WHAT WE'RE READING
- The 113th Congress has sure been sleepy the last week before summer recess.
- Embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's attempt to have the city pay his legal fees has led to dueling recall efforts.
- Hey, what do ya know—Obamacare hasn't caused a massive decline in workers' hours!
- There haven't been many openly gay ambassadors. That's (thankfully) about to change.
- Oh no. The Supreme Court may make a decision that makes Citizens United look like child's play next term.
- House Republicans are working on a series of bills to slash regulations before the August recess, including requiring congressional approval for federal rules costing over $100 million and restricting the IRS.
- Perhaps Reza Aslan should go on Fox News more often. After being grilled on Fox for being Muslim and writing a book on Jesus, Aslan's book now tops Amazon's bestseller list.
POLL OF THE DAY
Early numbers indicate that Alaska Republicans want their former governor to be their nominee for Senate, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling, but that poll also says that Sarah Palin would not fare well against Democratic incumbent Mark Begich. The results are a blow to Palin, given that only 20 percent of Alaskans call themselves Democrats. The former vice presidential candidate has a 59 percent disapproval rating in the state.