US Case Against Wikileaks’ Julian Assange Collapses

The US government, according to NBC correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, now admits that it cannot tie Pfc. Bradley Manning to Wikileaks leader Julian Assange.

The military also admitted that Manning was put on suicide watch improperly twice last week by the base commander at Quantico, essentially as a form of punishment and with no consultation with psychiatrists. During the watch they took his glasses from him so he could not read.

As for Assange,

‘ The officials say that while investigators have determined that Manning had allegedly unlawfully downloaded tens of thousands of documents onto his own computer and passed them to an unauthorized person, there is apparently no evidence he passed the files directly to Assange, or had any direct contact with the controversial WikiLeaks figure. ‘

The admission appears to close off the most plausible legal strategy for the US to prosecute Assange. Since there is no Official Secrets Act in the United States, it is not clear that it is illegal to possess or to pass on classified documents. Manning himself would have broken a contractual obligation as a US government employee if he leaked classified documents, but civilians who received such documents are difficult to prosecute.

Assange, in London, is fighting extradition charges initiated by Sweden on grounds of minor sexual misconduct (not rape as is usually alleged in the US press). His lawyers have expressed fears that if the UK acceded to the Swedish request, its conservative government would promptly hand him over to the US, which would attempt to execute him for espionage.

The USG admission today undermines that legal strategy, since it is an announcement that Washington has no grounds to prosecute for conspiracy to commit espionage.

One can only hope that the end of the US efforts to link Manning to Assange will lead to an end of the abusive terms of Manning’s pretrial detention at Quantico’s brig.

14 Responses

  1. Looks like the US Government has a whole omelette on its face right now…

  2. And to think the former AIPAC spies, who actually stole secrets and share them with a foreign government, got off without a slap on the risk.

  3. And just what is to stop the shites in Washington resurrecting the claim at a future date? The US Supreme Court?

  4. Why would this information change anything about Manning? Whether or not it was Assange or someone else who then gave it to Assange, or even if Assange got the intel from another source altogether, Manning acted against federal law and release boatloads of classified info. I’m not condoning the supposed abuse at Quantico, but losing the link between Manning and Assange changes absolutely nothing.

    • The torturous terms of Manning’s pretrial incarceration are likely intended to extract info on Assange and now have lost a rattionale.

      • Perhaps. The main function would seem to be to deter future whistleblowers so that only those committed enough to risk their freedom and mental health for their country will go through with it.

  5. “Stupid is as stupid does.”

    So much for the sharp mind of the (Con)law scholar.

    Next up for egg on face?? The Swedes.

  6. Such a large and widening gulf between the myth of “America the Beautiful,” where “alabaster cities glean, undimm’d by human tears” and Liberties are preserved in Law, and “America: The Reality Show,” where the background music is the Marines’ Hymn, particularly the part about how “Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze/ From dawn to setting sun;/ We have fought in every clime and place/ Where we could take a gun. “

  7. Espionage as defined by the UCMJ (Article 106a) can still be the main charge against Manning, and he is unlikely to escape conviction. It’s a broad definition that appears to conform with the known facts. Whether Manning dealt directly with Assange probably doesn’t matter, as the classified material he downloaded certainly ended up on Wikileaks. A lesser charge would relate to divulging classified information to someone not authorized to receive it, which could still carry quite a bit of jail time. Manning seems to have made the wrong decision, confiding in Adrian Lamo; I haven’t seen/heard any evidence that anyone in the military was close to discovering what he had done.

    The conditions of his incarceration have indeed been far too harsh, and I share your hope that he will be better-treated in the future.

    Although I’m “in the business” and can never condone unauthorized disclosures of classified information, I was not unhappy to see the video “Collateral Murder” appear on the Internet, apparently thanks to Manning & Wikileaks. I sincerely hope it prompted the US Army to reexamine its rules of engagement.

  8. Could be a trap to fool Assange defense into underestimating danger of extradition to US via Sweden. Watch out guys!

  9. HomerJ-
    Manning is being tortured for the reason that torturers always torture: to extract a false confession from the victim. From medieval witches to Soviet show trials to Guantanamo Bay, the point of torture is to make the victim say what you tell him to say, regardless of the truth.

    In Manning’s case the message has been very unsubtle:

    “Say what we tell you to say or you’ll never see the light of the sun, never see a tree or a blade of grass, never speak to another human being, never sleep in darkness or read a book or run a step for the rest of your life. We will keep you alone in a lighted box in your underwear for the next 50 years. We will drive you insane. But if you say what we tell you to say we’ll put you in a general prison population and you’ll spend your life with other people so at least you’ll retain your sanity. The choice is yours.”

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