Friday, August 2, 2013

Bradley Manning Guilty on 19 of 21 Charges

The judge overseeing Bradley Manning’s court martial, Colonel Denise Lind acquitted him of the most serious and controversial charge, i.e. aiding the enemy, but he was still found guilty on 19 of 21 charges, including six counts of espionage. 

[Manning, the Army intelligence analyst had laid bare America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by covertly transmitting a massive trove of sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks. When these were made public in 2010 and 2011, Manning's leaks – 391,832 battlefield reports from Iraq, 75,000 reports from Afghanistan, and 251,287 State Department Cables – rocked the world with their details on the intimate doings of the Departments of Defense and State. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton protested the damage she said they had done to international relations, and the current chair of the House Intelligence committee had suggested that he should face the death penalty].

The verdict brings to a close the three-year period since Manning's incarceration in May 2010 that saw the private first class living in a state of limbo, subjected to conditions in solitary confinement that a UN investigator even compared to torture. 

The sentencing phase of the trial began Wednesday. Manning now faces up to 136 years in prison on his convictions. But I am still left wondering how Manning has harmed national security as was claimed. That, regrettably, wasn’t made clear at all. 

On Wednesday evening, I was in the Federal Hotel Kuala Lumpur along busy Jalan Bukit Bintang for the ITC Bintang Toastmasters meeting. This was at the kind invitation of the VP Education, Benny Chia who had assembled a posse of six speakers and they were to be evaluated based loosely on the American Idol format. The speakers were slotted into two groups and they faced two different panels of ‘judges’. I had a double role – first as a speaker (in the first group) – I presented an Advanced speech from The Entertaining Speaker manual titled “Women!” and second, I was one of three ‘judges’ in the second panel. 

A richly refreshing experience that I enjoyed very much. Absolutely, this was a successful meeting that befittingly earns an 8 over 10 score – from a club that is not afraid to try something new and different and yet, still staying true to Toastmasters! 

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