ArticleDownload Worksheet June 21st, 2013
Manning Case Challenges Definition of “Whistleblower”
The court martial for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning began on June 3 in Fort Meade, Md. Manning was arrested three years ago for leaking 700,000 classified U.S. government documents to the website WikiLeaks. Manning has pled guilty to some of the lesser charges; however, the most serious charges, including aiding the enemy, are still to be presented in court and could lead to a life sentence.
In May 2010, former computer hacker Adrian Lamo says he was approached by 22-year-old intelligence analyst Bradley Manning with video and thousands of diplomatic cables detailing a series of military blunders that led to the death of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The classified information was then published on WikiLeaks, a website created by Australian activist Julian Assange that posts information to expose government and corporate secrets. The publishing of this raw data roused government and military officials to find the source of the leak and to prosecute the person responsible to the full extent of the law. Lamo turned over Manning to authorities.
Manning’s arrest has stirred intense debate over what it means to be a whistleblower and what constitutes fair punishment. Manning was placed in intensive solitary confinement, locked in his cell 23 hours a day and forced to sleep without a pillow or sheets—treatment his lawyers say violated his right to a trial and reasonable punishment.
Is Manning a whistle-blower or a traitor?
In their opening statement, the prosecution outlined the events surrounding the leak. They need to prove that Manning knew his actions could aid the enemy, in this case, al-Qaida terrorists and militants fighting American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The defense is arguing that Manning thought of himself as a whistleblower. His lawyers say he was well-intentioned in his actions despite being unquestionably naive. They say that Manning saw what was happening in Iraq as a disregard for Iraqi life and felt he had the moral obligation to reveal what he saw even if he was breaking the law.
Trial may set precedent for whistleblowers
The trial has significant implications for future whistleblowers. Possibly the most famous whistleblower is Daniel Ellsberg who in 1971 leaked the “Pentagon Papers,” a series of classified documents regarding the Vietnam War to the New York Times and Washington Post.
At the time, Ellsberg said, “I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public. I did this clearly at my own jeopardy and I am prepared to answer to all the consequences of this decision.”
Ellsberg was one of the first people to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. The charges were dismissed after evidence of illegal wiretapping and other investigative misconduct came to light during the trial.
Just this month, Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former defense contractor leaked details on the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program which monitors internet data to find terrorists, but is been seen by many as a massive invasion of privacy.
The outcome of the Manning trial could determine the future of other Americans who leak classified information in the name of informing the public.
— Compiled by Aileen Graef for NewsHour Extra
Submit Your Student Voice
Tooltip of RSS content 3
Calls for unity are met with protest on first day of Democratic National Convention
The Democratic National Convention began on Monday amid protests from supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders and calls for unity to back Hillary Clinton. Continue readingBernie SandersDebbie Wasserman ShultzDemocratic National ConventionDemocratic PartyDNC 2016Election 2016Hillary ClintonWikileaks
Hillary Clinton’s long time in the political spotlight
While Clinton has topped the annual Gallup poll of “most admired woman” each of the last 14 years, a CBS poll last month showed nearly two-thirds of Americans say they don’t think she is honest or trustworthy. Continue readingDemocratic PartyElection 2016feminismFirst LadyHillary ClintonSecretary of State
Donald Trump’s early years from trouble-making teen to military school star
Born and raised in Queens, New York, to a family of privilege, Donald Trump grew up in a 23-room house and was driven to private school by the family chauffeur. Continue readingbiographyDonald TrumpElection 2016presidential raceSocial Studies
Trump picks Indiana Governor Mike Pence as running mate
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice president, despite the two disagreeing on a number of political and social issues. Pence has served as governor of Indiana since 2012, and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 12 years. Continue readingDonald TrumpElection 2016issuesMike Pencenominationrepublican national conventionRepublican PartyRNCVice President
Election 2016 challenges civics teachers
The 2016 presidential race has made teaching high school civics more difficult, particularly regarding some of the comments students have heard candidates make along the campaign trail. Continue readingCampaignCivicsDonald TrumpeducationElection 2016GovernmentHillary ClintonPresidencysocial mediaSocial Studies