Death to Whistle-Blowers?
by Al DeVito
March 14, 2013
That’s the title of an op-ed by Floyd Abrams and Yochai Benkler. While they disagree about Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks, they are united in their opposition to the severity of the prosecution’s charges, particularly that of “aiding the enemy”. Thus, a leak of supposedly national security information could lead to execution or a life sentence.
The prosecution derives its aiding the enemy claim from the possibility that Al Qaeda could have read the leaks on the WikiLeaks web site and, therefore, Manning indirectly communicated with terrorists. Talk about a far-fetched conclusion! In the Pentagon papers case, Justice Black gave the Court’s view of such matters, “The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.” If we now reject such principles, what will this do to future whistle-blowers? As the authors conclude, “We cannot allow our concerns about terrorism to turn us into a country where communicating with the press can be prosecuted as a capital offense.”