Again, this is probably because I am not a lawyer, but I just don’t see the big deal in this:
First, Obama said this when justifying Manning’s treatment (video and transcript are here):
We’re a nation of laws. We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.
The impropriety of Obama’s public pre-trial declaration of Manning’s guilt (“He broke the law”) is both gross and manifest. How can Manning possibly expect to receive a fair hearing from military officers when their Commander-in-Chief has already decreed his guilt? Numerous commentators have noted how egregiously wrong was Obama’s condemnation. Michael Whitney wrote: “the President of the United States of America and a self-described Constitutional scholar does not care that Manning has yet to be tried or convicted for any crime.” BoingBoing’s Rob Beschizza interpreted Obama’s declaration of guilt this way: “Just so you know, jurors subordinate judging officers!” And Politico quoted legal experts explaining why Obama’s remarks are so obviously inappropriate.
I’ll just accept that this was inappropriate, given all the legal experts who have a problem with it, but as quick to freak out about things as I am, I read this and thought it was no big deal. The President thinks he broke the law, so does Holder, so do lots of people in the military, and that is why he is going to be tried! If Obama didn’t think he had broken the law, but was trying him anyway, then I’d have a problem.
Again, I’m not arguing what he said was right or that everyone upset about his remarks are wrong, I’m just telling you what I thought when I heard it- from the point of view of the non-lawyer proles, this was not a big deal.