On Tuesday, the fate of Bradley Manning will be handed down from a military court. The original charges against him included a listing of enemies that Manning had, allegedly, aided. The third name on the list was classified. At some point during the proceeding, the government dropped the charge of aiding the undisclosed enemy.
Earlier, Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan requested that the Department of Defense provide him with the names of the entities that are currently affiliated with al Qaeda. His request was answered privately but when asked by ProPublica about the exchange, the Senator responded that they could not disclose the Pentagon’s answer.
Doing so would endanger national security, according to a Pentagon spokesman speaking with ProPublica.
The Pentagon’s thinking is that by publicly recognizing the affiliates of al Qaeda, they, and any agencies or organizations that do so, bolster the prestige of those affiliates by naming them.
At other times, the Defense Department has even had difficulty in clearly conveying what is meant by “affiliate”. Instead, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Michael Sheehan, has expressed that the identities of al Qaeda’s affiliates is “murky” and/or “shifting”. The nature of these organizations makes their identities difficult to “pin down”.
The danger is that in the War on Terror, in which enemies are constantly evolving and changing, when can a people know that its enemy has been defeated? Without clearer answers from the government, it’s unlikely the people will know with certainty.
It is certain that the future of Bradley Manning will be decided this Tuesday at 1300 hours and, originally, his fate was to be determined by having aided one of these unknown enemies.
Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @Joshual33.