One would have expected more from a President who taught law at one of the nation’s most prestigious law schools:
President Barack Obama’s assertion at a recent California fundraiser that Bradley Manning “broke the law” may have run afoul of presidential protocol, according to legal analysts who have been tracking the case of the Army private charged in the WikiLeaks case.
“I have to abide by certain classified information,” Obama said on a video that quickly began to circulate among media outlets Friday. “If I was to release stuff, information that I’m not authorized to release, I’m breaking the law. … We’re a nation of laws. We don’t individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate. … He broke the law.”
[. . .]
“The comment was not appropriate because it assumes that Manning is guilty,” Steven Aftergood, a classified information expert at the Federation of American Scientists, told POLITICO. “The president got carried away and misspoke. No one should mistake a charge for a conviction — especially the nation’s highest official.”
Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice and military law expert, predicted that before the end of the day, the White House will have issued a corrective statement.
“Commenting on Manning’s conditions of confinement is one thing — I would have strongly advised him to not comment about Manning’s guilt,” Fidell told POLITICO.
As with similar instances, I invite readers to contemplate what might have been the reaction if George W. Bush had dispensed with that whole “innocent until proven guilty” idea in commenting on the case of a particular defendant who had yet to face trial.