Yahoo asked military service members, veterans and others to react to Bradley Manning's acquittal on charges that he aided the enemy when he leaked classified government documents. Manning, a former U.S. Army soldier arrested in 2010, was found guilty of lesser charges on Tuesday. Here's one perspective.
COMMENTARY | During basic training, it is made very clear to us that military personnel are no longer citizens with the same rights as non-military Americans. There is a higher power and set of rules that has precedence over civilian laws and personal rights. That power is called the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or UMJ. The UMJ, combined with the chain of command, through which additional mandates are made, are the controlling forces and law that set nearly every aspect of a military person's life. It is a system of law that is very necessary in a military organization if victory over an enemy has any chance of success.
Under that system, the only people with the necessary knowledge used to pass judgment on a defendant are those who worked with the defendant and those in the chain of command above the defendant.
While in the Navy, I worked in a "secure" facility where it was necessary to have a security clearance. Security clearances are not given out freely. The government does complete background checks that often include interviewing the candidate's teachers, religious leaders and even neighbors, in person.
It is logical to assume, since clearances are also costly, the government does not hand out clearances to people not intelligent enough to recognize what is classified, or not. In any case, most classified material is marked as such, just to eliminate any confusion. I use the word "most" because there are also other bits of information considered to be classified but that a whole unit may be aware of. This information may be of a unit's movements, supply lines or mission. Personnel involved and with knowledge of this type information are made aware of the sensitivity through the chain of command.
Therefore, I cannot see any way Bradley Manning was not aware he was releasing sensitive information. He had no authority to declassify information, and he was aware of consequences of releasing the information. The confirming proof may be classified so there is actually no way for the general public to know for certain of any grey areas the military court had to consider. Also, military courts do not operate as civilian courts; proof beyond all doubts is not required in a military court.
Paul Smith enlisted in the U.S. Navy before graduating from high school, attended boot camp one week after graduation and served four years, 1967-71
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