Julian Assange’s legal team won the right to appeal to Britain’s supreme court over his possible extradition to Sweden last week, while Pfc. Bradley Manning faced a military hearing to determine whether he will be court-martialed after 19 months of severe confinement.
While Assange is on appeal in London, a US federal grand jury in Arlington, Virginia, is exploring a possible indictment against him for conspiracy to release the classified WikiLeaks documents which exposed secret torture facilities, previously-unreported civilian casualties, and a 2007 American helicopter attack that killed eleven innocent Iraqis.
Manning, 24, faces 22 counts and a possible life sentence. Manning is alleged to have disseminated the video of the 2007 helicopter attack among tens of thousands of classified battlefield and diplomatic documents. Some of those released documents helped trigger the Tunisian uprising which was the catalyst for the ongoing revolutions in the Arab world.
The Pentagon has inflicted significant harrassment and punishment on Manning, partly in a prosecution effort to coerce Manning to testify against Assange, with no results thus far. A key witness against Manning is Adrian Lamo, a Bay Area hacker once arrested in 2003 for electronic break-ins at the New York Times, Yahoo and Microsoft. Lamo, who received lenient treatment from prosecutors, later became a security consultant and somehow came to conduct email chats with Manning, some of which were published in Wired magazine. Lamo’s questions read like the prepared text of a prosecutor leading a witness into damaging admissions. The tapes of Manning also reveal an emotional and lyrical intensity that reveal a young soldier shocked and anguished about his discovery of illegal episodes of war.
At some future time, the Manning tapes may be remembered as the “Howl” of a new generation.