FORT MEADE, Md. — Army Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court-martial for giving hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to WikiLeaks entered its second week Monday in a fresh spotlight cast by a brand-new leak by another low-level intelligence employee.
Like Manning, Edward Snowden could find himself hauled into court by the U.S. government after he unmasked himself Sunday as the leaker who exposed the nation’s secret phone and Internet surveillance programs to reporters.
Legal experts closely following both cases said they were shocked to find out young, low-ranking people had such access to powerful government secrets. Manning was 22 when he turned over the military and diplomatic cables about three years ago; Snowden is 29.
“In that respect, these cases suggest we should be much more careful about who is given security clearances,” said David J.R. Frakt, a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer who has taught at several law schools.
At the same time, legal experts saw differences between the two cases, namely that Manning’s secret-spilling was more scattershot, while Snowden appeared more selective.