“Flag Meant Nothing” to Leaker, Prosecutor Says
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Prosecutors seeking life in prison for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning described him Thursday as an attention-seeking soldier bent on using his position to harm the U.S. by leaking huge archives of sensitive documents to the anti-secrecy WikiLeaks website.
“The flag meant nothing to him,” said Maj. Ashden Fein, a military prosecutor. “He ultimately knew what he provided to WikiLeaks would make its way to the enemy because he knew the enemy used WikiLeaks.”
Defense lawyers, who will present their closing argument on Friday, were expected to portray Pfc. Manning as a concerned American troubled by what he saw in Iraq and motivated to air information that would open the country’s eyes.
The presentations came as Pfc. Manning’s court-martial wound down more than three years after he was arrested at a military base in Iraq on charges that he illegally turned over more than 700,000 sensitive documents and other information about the U.S. conduct of the war and its dealings with other countries.
Because Pfc. Manning waived his right to a jury trial, leaving the presiding judge, Army Col. Denise Lind as the sole arbiter, the final arguments hold less drama than in other cases. But Maj. Fein described the defendant harshly, dismissing any humanistic motivations and citing chat logs to show Pfc. Manning regarded fellow soldiers as “hyper-masculine, trigger-happy, gullible idiots.”
“Pfc. Manning was an anarchist whose agenda was made abundantly clear almost immediately after he deployed to Iraq,” said Maj. Fein. “He was not a whistleblower, he was a traitor. A traitor who understood the value of compromised information in the hands of the enemy.”
The Obama administration’s use of the 1917 Espionage Act to charge Pfc. Manning with aiding the enemy stoked fears that a conviction would establish a precedent that providing information to a news organization is legally equal to giving it to U.S. enemies.
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