Is Exposing War Crimes a Crime?

Military prosecutors claimed that PFC Bradley Manning was guilty of “aiding the enemy.” A federal judge dismissed that charge—the most serious of the lot—but the army intelligence analyst still faces many other counts, which could keep him behind bars for the rest of his life. The key ethical question, one that may be debated for decades to come, is this: Was Manning’s unauthorized distribution of war videos, diplomatic cables, and top-secret documents to the WikiLeaks organization treasonous—or was it legitimate whistleblowing? According to Independent Institute Research Fellow Anthony Gregory, the author of The Power of Habeas Corpus in America, the latter label applies: Manning did Americans a favor by exposing war crimes—such as the execution of ten innocent civilians in Ishaqui, Iraq, in 2006, and the use of air strikes to cover up any evidence.

“War criminality ranks among the most important types of government wrongdoing warranting transparency,” Gregory writes in the Daily Caller. “The American people need to understand what U.S. occupations are like.”

As Gregory notes, Barack Obama might have agreed with that assessment way back in 2008: During his first presidential campaign Sen. Obama called for greater transparency and protection for government whistleblowers. But you can’t find statements to that effect on the Oval Office website—they’ve recently been removed. Perhaps that’s because the White House is embarrassed by the dramatic difference between Obama’s original promises and the current reality—that the Obama administration is prosecuting twice as many people for leaking classified information under the Espionage Act as all previous administrations combined. Gregory continues: “This is the administration: Nearly unparalleled secrecy, daily scandals, a surveillance state unbound by law, unilateral presidential wars, indefinite detention, the power to kill any terrorist suspect anywhere without a hint of due process, a politicized regulatory state collecting limitless data and harassing political opponents at home, and the persecution of whistleblowers using an anachronistic law from the darkest days of American civil liberty.”

Guilty of Aiding the American People, by Anthony Gregory (The Daily Caller, 7/30/13)

The Power of Habeas Corpus in America: From the King’s Prerogative to the War on Terror, by Anthony Gregory

Video: Civil Liberties and Security in the Age of Terrorism, featuring Robert Higgs, Anthony Gregory, and Mary L. G. Theroux (7/18/13)

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