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Manning verdict Tuesday


The army private faces a possible sentence of life in military custody with no chance of parole should Colonel Denise Lind find him guilty of the most serious charge – that he knowingly "aided the enemy" by transmitting intelligence to WikiLeaks.

Remind me who "the enemy" is?

Apparently, along with secret laws, we've got secret enemies:

Cora Currier at Pro Publica has an important story on why DOD won’t publish the list of AUMF “associated forces” against whom we are at war.  DOD’s rationale:

A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that revealing such a list could cause “serious damage to national security.”

“Because elements that might be considered ‘associated forces’ can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list,” said the spokesman, Lt. Col. Jim Gregory. “We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks.”

I am quoted in the article as finding this rationale “weak,” and would like here to expand my reasoning, and add a few points.

First, DOD says it must keep the identities of our enemies secret so as not to “inflate” or enhance their “credibility.”  I suppose the idea, viewed charitably, is that being a named enemy of the United States can spur recruitment and might enhance the group’s interest in targeting U.S. interests.  Still, “inflating” the enemy is a pretty soft criterion for keeping its identity secret.  After all, the premise of for including a group on an AUMF list is that the AQ-associated force is (in the Obama administration’s typical formulation) “engaged in hostilities against the United States,” and presumably the fact of being on the receiving end of U.S. or U.S-supported military operations can be known locally and a spur to recruitment regardless of USG acknowledgment. ....

Fourth, the fact that the “list” is classified only at the secret level suggests the perceived national security harms from disclosure are not that high.  And of course, there is a countervailing interest in disclosure that the DOD statement does not discuss: The American People’s interest in knowing against whom, and where, U.S. military forces are engaged in war in its name. 

Of course, if you imagine that the national security class sees the American people as their enemy -- after all, who else would take away their funding? -- then everything becomes simple.

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