After being unable to convince Bradley Manning to lie about his “relationship” with Julian Assange, the government has decided to up the pressure on Manning by filing another 22 charges against him, including putting him at risk of facing the death penalty — though, they insist that they will not ask for the death penalty. In the end, however, it is up to the judge, so whether or not the feds ask for it, he is still technically facing the death penalty. In addition, the new charges could put him in jail for life.
Some of the charges seem like clear exaggerations. Government officials have already admitted that the State Department cable leaks have done little to actually damage US diplomatic relationships or put anyone in danger. Yet, the charges certainly suggest both things are true. There’s a charge for “aiding the enemy,” charges for “theft of public property,” the inevitable (but highly questionable) “computer fraud” charges and (of course) Espionage Act charges. It’ll take some time before the reasonings behind all of the charges are understood, but the point is pretty clear: the feds don’t want any more whistleblowers, so they’re throwing the book at Manning as a warning shot to anyone else who wants to expose government misdeeds.