By Elias Groll
Watching the verdict handed down against Bradley Manning Tuesday, Edward Snowden had his worst fears confirmed.
With a litany of guilty verdicts, the judge, Col. Denise Lind, all but certainly condemned Manning, the man accused of providing WikiLeaks with a huge trove of classified documents, to spend the majority of his adult life behind bars. And it’s all bad news for Snowden.
Though the military court acquitted Manning of the most serious charge — aiding the enemy — it convicted him on five charges of espionage under a legal rationale similar to the one presented by prosecutors in indicting Snowden under the 1917 Espionage Act.
In past cases in which the government pressed espionage charges against members of the intelligence community who provided classified information to the media, the government had to prove “bad faith” — that the accused intended to harm U.S. interests. If there was ever to be a legal reprieve for men like Manning and Snowden, it lay in the “bad faith” provision and the argument that these whistleblowers had in fact acted in the best interests of the nation. But that provision has been jettisoned in more recent rulings, a precedent continued by Lind.
Photo: By United States Army [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons