Benkler, a witness for the defense, wrote that such an answer "makes the Manning prosecution a clear and present danger to journalism in the national security arena." Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said just about the same thing to CNN's Jake Tapper on Monday. Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers, issued similar worry. "That you can face life in prison or death simply from informing an enemy or potential enemy in the process of informing fellow citizens for their benefit is potentially a lethal blow to the First Amendment or freedom of speech and the press," he told the Christian Science Monitor.
It's clear to Benkler how the Manning case can put a chill on whistle-blowing. Here's how he views the prosecution's thinking:
Also read:Manning knew that the materials would be made public, and he knew that al-Qaida or its affiliates could read the publications in which the materials would be published. Therefore, the prosecution argues, by giving the materials to WikiLeaks, Manning was "indirectly" communicating with the enemy. Under this theory, there is no need to show that the defendant wanted or intended to aid the enemy. The prosecution must show only that he communicated the potentially harmful information, knowing that the enemy could read the publications to which he leaked the materials. This would be true whether al-Qaida searched the WikiLeaks database or The New York Times'. - NationalJournal.com
- Manning verdict strikes balance for leakers: Our view
Bradley Manning is a criminal but not a traitor. A military judge made that sensible distinction Tuesday in finding the 25-year-old Army private not guilty of the most serious charge against him while convicting him of a long list of lesser crimes, including violating espionage laws.