Alternet. By Alex Kane: Bradley Manning Found Guilty on Most Counts,
Acquitted of 'Aiding the Enemy' Faces Over 100 Years in Prison. The military intelligence analyst who leaked hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks and sparked a worldwide debate on U.S. foreign policy was found guilty today on charges that he violated the Espionage Act, the favored tool the Obama administration uses when cracking down on whistle-blowers. But Manning was found not guilty on the charge of "aiding the enemy" the most controversial serious charge he faced. The verdict is the culmination of about two months of legal proceedings that took place at a military base in Maryland. Manning was found guilty on five counts of violating laws prohibiting espionage and guilty on five counts of theft. In total, he faced 21charges, and was found guilty on most of them. He faces over 100 years of prison, and the sentencing phase of his trial begins tomorrow. The court martial of Manning was a whistle-blower seeking to expose war crimes. The harsh charge of "aiding the enemy" had grave implications for press freedom in the U.S. Experts had warned that if Manning was found guilty on that charge, it would be a dark day for journalism, as it would mean Manning was guilty merely because the "enemy" in this case, Al Qaeda, read and possessed the material Manning placed on the Internet. It would have had major consequences for national security journalism. In the closing weeks of the trial, the back and forth between the defense and the prosecution heated up. Army Prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein spoke harshly of Manning and disputed the central premise of the defense's argument: that Manning was acting out of conscience. "He was not a humanist. He was a hacker," said Fein. "He was not a troubled soul. He was not a whistle blower. He was a traitor." Fein also sought to bolster the "aiding the enemy" charge against Manning by arguing that "Osama Bin Laden asked for that information and received it." The prosecution also argued that Manning wanted to be famous for his actions. The defense pushed back against Fein's argument the next day. They argued Manning was driven by his conscience and wanted to inform the American public about what was happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world in their name. Manning's defense lawyer, David Coombs, argued that the former intelligence analyst was a "young, naive, good-intentioned soldier who had human life, in his humanist beliefs, central to his decision." Now that the verdict phase of the trial is over, the sentencing phase begins. Throughout August, the defense and prosecution will call more witnesses and make more arguments regarding the sentencing of Manning.