A conviction on this charge [“aiding the enemy”] literally would have criminalized the dissemination of information, which is the central purpose of the First Amendment, as long as one of our many purported enemies had access to a computer, or a buck to pick up The New York Times at the newsstand in Abbottabad. It would have made free expression subject to the hypothetical future acts of international criminals and sociopaths. The prosecutors claimed that Manning should be punished because the people in the compound in which Osama bin Laden had been murdered had downloaded some of the information that Manning had released to WikiLeaks, as if that proved Manning’s desire to assist our “enemies,” and not the fact that the Internet is a marvelous environment for getting out the word. This is the logic of authoritarians. That it was pursued so vigorously by a putatively democratic state should terrify us all.