Government prosecutors in the Bradley Manning case have made it clear that they see no difference between leaking to WikiLeaks, as Manning has been charged with doing, and leaking to news organizations like the New York Times.
Manning is being charged with "aiding the enemy" by passing along his information, a charge which could land him in prison for life.
Throughout the trial, many have wondered about this aspect of the military's case against Manning. If he could be prosecuted to such a severe extent for passing classified information to a source, what would that mean for newspapers or other media outlets which routinely handle secret documents?
As the New Yorker's Amy Davidson put it in a Wednesday blog post, "Can anyone aid the enemy by giving information to a reporter? Are reporters aiding the enemy if they publish it—and who, by the way, is “the enemy”?
Politico's Josh Gerstein reported Tuesday that Capt. Angel Overgaard, one of the prosecutors in the case, argued that "publishing information in a newspaper [can] indirectly convey information to the enemy."
On Wednesday, the Times' own Scott Shane wrote, Overgaard took this view to its logical conclusion:
Colonel Lind, the judge, asked a prosecutor a hypothetical question: If Private Manning had given the documents to The New York Times rather than to WikiLeaks, would he face the same charges?
"'Yes, ma'am,' said the prosecutor, Capt. Angel Overgaard.
Shane -- whose paper has been criticized for its relative lack of coverage of the Manning trial -- also wrote that the government intends to use evidence that Osama bin Laden "requested and received from a Qaeda member some of the State Department cables and military reports that Private Manning is accused of passing to WikiLeaks." Presumably, the prosecution also sees no difference between that and bin Laden requesting a Times article that detailed classified information.
Blogger Glenn Greenwald noted on Thursday that bin Laden was also found to have perused "Obama's War," a book by Washington Post legend Bob Woodward that contains a great deal of classified information.
"If bin Laden's interest in the WikiLeaks cables proves that Manning aided al-Qaida, why isn't bin Laden's enthusaism for Woodward's book proof that Woodwood's leakers - and Woodward himself - are guilty of the same capital offense?" he wrote.