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back to article Bradley Manning in court as lawyers wrestle over secret docs

Bradley Manning, the US soldier charged with leaking confidential government and military documents to whistleblowing platform WikiLeaks, returned to court yesterday for the first day of a pretrial hearing as lawyers argued over what documents were relevant to his case. The 23-year-old has been in jail since May 2010. Manning's …

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Irrelevant you say?

Yeah a defense verses a government with files that should be released that could have a direct bearing on the case against their client and they call them irrelevant.

They've already decided his fate, this is a show trial fit for Stalinist Russia.

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Re: Irrelevant you say?

Manning's lawyers know there is no way the prosecution would allow, for example, an analysis of how the leak threatened the lives of informers in the Pakistani/Afghan border regions, as releasing the details of those informers would lead to their immediate deaths at the hands of the Taleban. Such a result would not only hamper current operations but also reduce the likelyhood of informers being ready to come forward in future. Or is that the type of result you'd hope for, Jeebus?

The only Stalinist remnant here is the twaddle trotted out by the sheeple supporting Manning.

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Re: Irrelevant you say?

EXACTLY THIS WILL HAPPEN.

JEEBUS COST US THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN.

Meanwhile in the real world your attempts too goad a reply from me as anything other than a flippant dismissal of your "appeal to emotion" has failed but I appreciate the effort you put in. However I'm a little too smart to fall into the conservative baiting. You should try mentioning how I believe Obama is American and that makes me a member of the muslim brotherhood or something.

That'll get my hackles up for sure.

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Re: Irrelevant you say?

Prosecution: "You endangered the life of our men, and for that you shall spend your life behind bars."

Defense: "Oh yeah? show me the docs that prove it."

Prosecution: "Stop 'greymailing' us! Die scum die, and stop defending yourself!"

And some US citizen think Iran is bad....

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Re: Re: Irrelevant you say?

Pierre, if you had half a clue, you'd know that the prosecution don't have to show damage from the criminal action, just that Manning made the action. It's just the same as if Manning were on trial for deserting his post - the prosecution would not have to prove that Manning deserting his post was of benefit to an enemy, just that he had an order to be at his post and did choose to leave it. Manning had a clear order not to disclose the information he worked with, all teh prosecution have to prove is that he did so and that he gave it to a foreign national. Manning's lawyers are just wasting time and trying to get certain documents excluded by trying to drag more non-public documents into court. The aim seems to be to "win" in the court of public opinion because they know they stand SFA chance of winning in the trial. I'd say their only hope is the election cycle will cause the Obumbler to step in and lessen Manning's sentence in the hope of keeping some of his faithfuls' votes, which explains such legally-pointless actions from Manning's team.

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Re: Re: Irrelevant you say?

Yeah, keep on frothing, Jeebus, it's very entertaining in a "ooh, look what a naive ickle kiddie he is" kind of way. Oh, and you missed out the standard "You watch Fox News" lameness in the regurgitation of your spoonfed ideals. You're not even good at being an empty-minded echo-chamber.

As I understand it, all the prosecution have to show is that Manning gave secret material to a foreign national. They don't even have to show that A$$nut had an intent to damage the US, though it would add to the list of charges if they did (and wouldn't be hard to prove either).

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Re: Irrelevant you say?

Surely if the leak threatened the lives of the informers they would already be dead? The information is already out there and releasing the information to a military trial is effectively closed door so wouldn't go any further.

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Unhappy

Re: Irrelevant you say?

It is very painful to say this, but Matt Bryant is correct on this. "Military justice", as I have said before, is an oxymoron. It tends to be strict liability i.e. "Did the defendant do this?", "Yes, but he had a reason", "The reason is irrelevant - prepare the firing-squad".

The historical development of this speedy, brutal decision-making in a war-zone made sense, when everything was miles from the nearest legitimate courthouse, but the whole thing is totally out of date now. It really needs urgently bringing into line with what any other citizen of the same country would expect.

I hope Bradley's lawyers can find a way out of this - let's face it, the whole "aiding the enemy" bit is far-fetched - but I feel less than sanguine about his chances of ever being a free man again, because the whole system is set up to deter people acting in line with their consciences.

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Re: Irrelevant you say?

> It tends to be strict liability i.e. "Did the defendant do this?", "Yes, but he had a reason", "The reason is irrelevant - prepare the firing-squad".

I might very well be missing something, but that's true only for the "computer misuse" part. For the "endangered the lives..." they still have to show that some lives were put in danger. If he is found to have "stolen" and disseminated that info, the prosecution still has to prove that said release had the consequences they claim it had (helped the enemy/endangered lives/whatever).

The number of rolls of bog paper used by the US military in 'stan is probably classified info so a private could go to martial court for releasing it. However it is hard to claim that it would endanger anyone's life or aid the ennemy in any way.

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Re: Re: Irrelevant you say?

".....because the whole system is set up to deter people acting in line with their consciences." So wrong. It is set up to ensure people follow orders as having every order questioned would lead to other soldiers dying. Just imagine if one set of soldiers advance on the battlefield expecting covering fire from a second group, only the second group don't provide the covering fire because they're debating the order. Soldiers cannot be allowed to question every order, but they do have legal recourse if they are ordered to something illegal. Manning did not take up that recourse as he knew very well he was not being ordered to do anything illegal. Please also show me the ground-shaking, illegal activity his leak exposed, because hundreds of experienced journos went through the dump and came up empty-handed, and they would have squealed from the rooftops if they had found any real meat. This whole case has nothing to do with conscience, it is simply Manning throwing a tantrum and possibly A$$nut taking advantage of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

I'd love to see this guy swinging from a yardarm.

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Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

For what exactly? Telling the American People what their government is doing in their name? Oh what a horrible thing to happen in a democracy.

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Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

@Chad - There is quite a bit of difference between leaking documents to prove specific wrongdoing and just dumping everything you can get your hands on, on the offchance. One is laudable, the other is excrable.

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Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

I'm keen to know where you draw the line between patting him on the back and slipping a noose around his neck.

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Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

I draw the line when as a military soldier he discloses the first confidential file. That's treason under U.S. military law and he should pay with his life, IMO. If you're dumb enought o disclose secret files you're dumb enough to die.

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Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

Ironic that this is all coming from an Anonymous Coward

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@ 1Rafayal

> Ironic that this is all coming from an Anonymous Coward

That's logical if you think about it. Posting under a genuine handle may compromise their security. I'm sure whatever dream enemy they have is waiting for them to slip and publish a patriotic comment under a valid pseudonym so that they can invade Alaska, take the chinese-built Canadian train to the US border and kill them. Or something.

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Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

"I draw the line when as a military soldier he discloses the first confidential file. That's treason under U.S. military law and he should pay with his life, IMO. If you're dumb enought o disclose secret files you're dumb enough to die."

As the ACLU has discovered, the murder of Al Quaeda leaders by drone is so secret that the CIA cannot even admit that such a process exists. ( http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/aclu-sues-us-information-targeted-killing-program )

And yet both the president (head of the armed forces) and secretary of defense have both given details on the record about such killings.

So should we not see senior members of the American Administration and their advisors / spin doctors on death row for revealing such secret information?

Or is the difference between the Manning disclosures and the Administration disclosures that the Adminstration's disclosures make the president look good in election season and some people are clearly more equal than others?

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Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

'Murder of Al Quaeda leaders"? Ah, don't tell me, the people who died in the WTO were 'legitimate targets' as were those who died in the Wishing Well bombing, the Miami Showband Murders, the Warrington bombing, the dockside bombing. Ah, them were 'days tha knoos. I remember legitimate targets, shoot to kill policy (someone saw too many Hollywood films in which the hero shoots the firearm out of the bad guy's hand, leaving him unhurt, baffled and docile), and this is no different, because Al Quaeda are only killing legitimate targets and those who attack them are murderers. Uhuh.

Oh, and before I forget, soldiers may at their personal discretion indiscriminately release military secrets without fear of comeback. Indeed.

If you jab an animal in the ribs do not be surprised when it bites you back.

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@Scorchio!

Are you saying that assissination of a terrorist is a valid legal process? Or is it just that because the American government is 'an animal' that they have every right to bite back? Eye for an eye sort of thing?

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Re: @Scorchio!

assissination

assassination

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Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

@Whitespace

The CIA answer to the president. The military answer to the president. That kind of means he tells them what to do, not the other way around. So no, the CIA can't admit some super-secret-assassination-program exists, but the President can.

So the difference between Manning disclosing sensitive information and the President doing so is the President has the authority to do so and Manning did not. Indeed, Manning had a duty not to disclose the information.

Doesn't excuse how he's been treated, though. Doesn't excuse the US for their actions, either. All it means is the President should have disclosed the information and not Manning.

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Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

"Manning had a duty not to disclose the information."

What if, just if, he thought that letting the US public know what was going on over there that he was fulfilling his oath? i.e. to protect the constitution (i.e. not the military infrastructure) from enemies both foreign AND domestic.

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Re: @ 1Rafayal

If you are unable to separate an online I.D. from treason, you simply are not technically qualified to post a legitimate comment. You look like a fool when you try to make excuses for treason. The judicial system dismisses this type of ignorance as a defense.

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Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

PFC Manning was operating in a legally established chain of command that defined his role. By his oath, he agreed to subject himself and his actions to the chain of command and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While he was, as a human being, free to reach his own conclusions about the meaning of protecting and defending the Constitution, he was not legally free to act on that. And now, if convicted of illegal acts, he will have to accept the defined punishment.

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@Runcible Spoon

"Are you saying that assissination of a terrorist is a valid legal process?"

I think you'll find that we're talking about the assassination of suspects as a legal process.

Obviously in the minds of US military gun nuts there's no difference, but out in the real world there's actually quite an important one.

"Kill them all and let God sort them out" has been the MO of the US army for 150 years. And they wonder why the people they bomb and torture hate them!

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Re: Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

"......enemies both foreign AND domestic." Please do show which bits Manning leaked show any US party acting in a manner deemed to be "harmful" to the US. Oh, you can't. This is my surprised face, honest.

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Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

@ Scorchio, so the solution to get rid of people who hate our secular civilisation based on the rule of law is to simply abandon civilised practice, and go around the world engaging in frontier justice killing whoever we like (including folk who are carrying Cameras that are somehow confused with RPGs..

If we have to become like them, to beat them, I'll pass.

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Anonymous Coward

I hear that Gitmo have a jump suit tailored specially for Mr Assange. I know that orange will suit him just fine.

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I heard rumours they're busy moving the shower soap dispensers down - 30 cm off the floor..

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Did you hear about the feet shackles on either side? :-)

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Manning is a hero

It's hard to get anyone to expose the stupid and evil things done by our government. They know the full force of the wounded bulls will be all over them. Private Manning is a brave man. He apparently knew that what he was giving to the world would improve things somehow, by exposing stupidity and venality. He most likely had no intention of damaging our real security (and probably hasn't). Most whistle-blowers are accused of doing serious damage to something or other. (That's what they used to say about hackers who exposed vulnerabilities.) Generally it's a lie. Kind of like the damage done by some kid sharing a file.

So seriously, the leaks threatened the lives of informers in Afghanistan? If so, the leaks are still up there -- show us!

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Re: Manning is a hero

Didn't you see Mark Bryant's post above Sandra. Supporting Manning means you hate the west and you want sharia law tomorrow morning.

In the real world we want a transparent system, we want to know what is being done in our name.

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Re: Manning is a hero

> So seriously, the leaks threatened the lives of informers in Afghanistan? If so, the leaks are still up there -- show us!

Ah, but that would be "greymailing" the CIA. To Gitmo you go!

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Re: Manning is a hero

Yawn. Please do show how any of the info Manning leaked "improved things" in any way at all. Did he expose some great conspiracy against the US public? No. Did he expose some superdupersecret activity, a la South American deathsquads? No. He just threw a tantrum when he was told he couldn't just jack it all in and go home. If that's your kind of heroics then all I can say is you set the bar very, very low.

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Meh

Manning is a Tool

Whose actions were pointless & identified no specific wrongs. He was being an attention whore & should be punished on principal.

If he had published anything truly important I'd say he should be hung, but since no real harm came he should just go to Kansas or Cuba for a few years.

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The 'Manning is a Tool' claqueurs

All these guys have wet dreams when they remember that Sidney Carton had his head lopped off to save some Frenchie. If it was was a better thing for Sid, it's far, far better thing for Brad. Something that the yardarm gang and the shower soap boys don't have a clue about.

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Re: The 'Manning is a Tool' claqueurs

"All these guys have wet dreams when they remember that Sidney Carton had his head lopped off to save some Frenchie. If it was was a better thing for Sid, it's far, far better thing for Brad. Something that the yardarm gang and the shower soap boys don't have a clue about."

Quoting from Dicken's Tale of Two Cities, the story of a man who deeply hated someone he saved? Don't tell me, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.".

Pick on a real example please, not an imagined one. Pshaw.

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Re: The 'Manning is a Tool' claqueurs

Just pointing out to the telepathists on your side that you have no idea what motivated Manning. Zero. Nada. What impels someone to give up his life or freedom for a cause? It is something you guys only read about in Dickens and can never understand. Something you'd never consider doing yourselves. Claqueurs are excited by their own self-interest and someone that threatens it, what, 200 lashes?, that'll cut the meat off his bones.

Consider the case of Mordechai Vanunu.

"Mordechai Vanunu is a former Israeli nuclear technician who, citing his opposition to weapons of mass destruction, revealed details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. He was subsequently lured to Italy by a Mossad agent, where he was drugged and abducted by Israeli intelligence agents. He was transported to Israel and ultimately convicted in a trial that was held behind closed doors."

Are you glad Vanunu did it? Do you think Israel was too lenient in locking him up for only18 years, 11 of them in solitary? Should he have been 'flogged through the fleet' for telling the world the size of Israel's nuclear arsenal?

When we get rid of the Mannings and Assanges and Vanunus, and eradicate their worthless thinking, the highway to '1984' will be finally paved and, as we approach the White City on the hill, we can say together "Long Live Big Brother" and we will really mean it.

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Re: Re: The 'Manning is a Tool' claqueurs

".....Consider the case of Mordechai Vanunu...." Instead, why not consider that of Jonathan Pollard, shall we apply the same criteria the Manning sheeple want to apply? Did Pollard's theft of secrets "harm" the US? Did his actions lead to any US soldiers dying? Oh, so you want to free him then? I bet not. Epic fail!

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Whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, no member of our government want their non-transparent doings brought to light. A soldier of Manning's rank could never gain access to truly dangerous information - dangerous to Democracy or spies or whatever. Politicians (ambassadors, presidents) regardless of orientation cannot tolerate exposure of their double-dealing at best and brutality at worst.

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Apparently the data (memos) were accessible to around 2 million "security cleared" staff, so a) I doubt there was anything very important thus classified and b) it's a miracle it took this long to be exposed.

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Manning's supporters should use the Yulia Tymoshenko maneuver.

Photographs of bruised body parts followed by busybodies from other countries shrilly demanding his immediate release.

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my stupid opinion

When this man joined the military he gave forth this oath. "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

This, as well as when he accepted a security clearance, placed upon him responsibilities above and beyond those of a normal citizen. In my opinion he violated his oath and the duties of his security clearance. Whether this was an act of valor or treason is irrelevant. Until and unless he is pardoned he must be prosecuted.

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Re: my stupid opinion

Unfortunately, easyk, you are posting facts in a thread dominated by those too blinkered to understand them. Jeebus and Pierre will be on in a minute to accuse you of working for Fox News.

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Re: my stupid opinion

Quotes like the above always bring to mind that moment in Shooter when Whalburg's character proves his innocence. How do you handle it when your Domestic enemy is a part of the system?

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Re: my stupid opinion

Meybe he decided he was best serving the constitution by flogging the documents ? After all, if I -being a stupid foreigner not even deemed fit for a US invasion - understand the vaunted ducument correctly - it is the right - nay, the solemn duty - of every US citizen to remove any government leader that threatens said constitution.

There's an explanation for everything. You just have to choose to accept it. Or not.

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Re: my stupid opinion

Remember, "I was only following orders" has not been a valid defence since the Nuremberg trials.

If anyone (including a soldier) has evidence of or is asked to commit a war crime (given an illegal order, for example invading a sovereign nation, as "to initiate a war of aggression...is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole") then he has a duty to report it.

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Re: my stupid opinion

...and of course, the IT issue here is not the question of morality - though that we can argue - the point was that Manning could not have assessed any of the material that he allowed to fall into unauthorised hands; the point was that he was not in a position to judge whether or not it could be harmful, or indeed whether or not the intended recipient intended harmful consequences to US and allied military personnel, or even had the time to carry out such a risk assessment; this did not conform to any sensible military practise of restricting information on a basis of 'need to know' or 'needs not to know'.

As to Assange himself, he is a convict on some 25 counts, including for stealing passwords from Pentagon air force computers (for which he should have been extradited and imprisoned, but received a slap over the wrist for citing a difficult childhood), and has gone on to demonstrate that this, the Wikileaks process, is a cash cow for Assange (classic in intelligence and security; the main offenders being those with ideological motives, those wanting cash and those who are susceptible to blackmail), as much as he would like to paint himself as neo to an audience willing to believe in some real life version of the Matrix phantasm; Assange's plans for turning misery into cash included an autobiography, from which he pulled out after receiving a substantial advance while claiming the publisher had misbehaved, included a pay wall for those wishing to view US military classified data, included a variety of agreeable arrangements with newspapers - most of whom seem to have seen through him, thence causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth from St. Jules - and of course St Jules of Assange has a £80,000 salary.

Assange's profile is enough to make it clear that his motives are suspect. His contemporaneous attempts to turn stolen money into a career and into cash are similarly suspect. His quasi political mouthings, in which it appears that he envisages a political career, power, inflicting himself on the lying supine world electorate, quivering with anticipation for the intromission of one tumescent Julian are almost incredible, or should I say incredible enough to make it unlikely that anyone but the cynical will see it coming and, I do hope, swat the twat before he sets himself up.

As to his sexual behaviour, his attraction to pulchritudinous young 16 year old girls, inseminating them and elbowing journalists out of relationships with their women and then flaunting it in their faces, making as if to fight them, these things say much about him and I will experience no surprise at all if Julian Assange is convicted as charged.

That leaves Manning; Manning was only able to steal classified information and pass it on, either directly or through intermediaries, to Assange in the first place because the US military on the ground practised such dire security (here is your IT angle); Manning did not tailgate, Manning did not SE, manning did not use brute force crackers; he simply entered the passwords written on post it notes and stuck to the sides of his colleagues' screens.

I also blame his supervising officer for failing to pick up on a number of signs that showed Manning was experiencing those classic doubts and misgivings about his own person and sexuality, the sort of thing which to which we used to pay much attention during the cold war, and always should because, whilst the enemy may change, the vectors never do.

Furthermore, Manning knew from his military contract (as did I, giving me absolutely no difficulty for shopping a colleague who infringed information security during my time) that he was absolutely not, under any circumstances, to give away or steal classified information, under pain of punishment.

The rest is, frankly, mere politicking, PC gainsaying and trolling.

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Re: my stupid opinion - @ easyk

Define "enemy". To some, the military administration is so corrupt that it *is* the enemy. If the "officers appointed over me" are "domestic enemies", conscience is the only guide.

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