night, in violation of military court rules, the Freedom of the Press
Foundation released audio of Pfc. Bradley Manning's personal statement before a
Fort Meade, Md. court. The foundation, which openly supports Manning,
immediately began using the audio to bolster the case that the military analyst
deserves protection from laws against disclosing classified information and
"aiding the enemy."
argument is that Manning went to great lengths to not leak anything that would do serious harm to the United States or its partners. Heard in his own words for
the first time, Manning talks about the meticulous manner in which he handed
over information. (Warning: It's very jargony.)
documents release, the cables were the only one I was not absolutely certain
couldn't harm the United States. I conducted research on the cables published
on the Net Centric Diplomacy, as well as how Department of State cables worked
in general. In
particular, I wanted to know how each cable was published on SIRPnet via the
Net Centric Diplomacy. As part of my open source research, I found a document
published by the Department of State on its official website.
document provided guidance on caption markings for individual cables and
handling instructions for their distribution. I quickly learned the caption
markings clearly detailed the sensitivity of the Department of State cables.
For example, NODIS or No Distribution was used for messages at the highest
sensitivity and were only distributed to the authorized recipients.
To the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, this testimony pours
cold water on the Manning critics who accused the analyst of leaking files with
Manning's conduct, it is often claimed - by people who cannot possibly know
this - that he failed to assess the diplomatic cables he was releasing and
simply handed them over without having any idea what was in them. Here is
Manning explaining the detailed process he undertook to determine their
contents and ensure that they would not result in serious harm to innocent
misses an important point. When it comes to disclosing classified information,
you don't get bonus points for trying hard not to release damaging information.
Remember, the WikiLeaks dump reportedly outed the identities of
hundreds of Afghan informants working for the United States. While
it's thankfully true that those informants haven't been subject to reprisals
from the Afghan Taliban, that doesn't justify the leaking of those names.
the aftermath of the leaks, the Pentagon had to scramble to protect those
informants, which is one of the reasons the government retains the authority to
decide when and how to publish sensitive information. Besides that, Manning also leaked materials that even
WikiLeaks refrained from publishing as advised in its own "harm minimization review."
This is not to say that Manning deserves the book thrown at
him for what he did, but it's important to keep in mind that there's a reason
every military analyst with a conscience isn't simply allowed to decide what
can be safely disclosed and what can't.