WORTH REPEATING: Being Bradley Manning


JOSHUA FOUST: By all accounts he was deeply conflicted?—?with his gender identity, his poor integration into his Army unit, and his own moral struggle with the war. His chain of command in Iraq, which was responsible for his well-being and conduct, failed him utterly when they did not respond sufficiently to his breaks of discipline (which included punching a female superior officer in the face). After displaying such behavioral issues, he should never have been allowed to maintain his access to classified information, much less have unfettered access to a CD burner inside his intelligence facility.The lack of reprisals for those failures is a letdown.

Some of the discussion online, especially on Twitter, focused on Manning’s political beliefs, as if he was being persecuted for them. He is not: Had he not leaked hundreds of thousands of secret documents, he never would have been imprisoned or put on trial. It was his decision to break the law in so many different ways that brought him to where he is now. Yet his beliefs are not immaterial. The wars were horrendous, there was far too much carnage for far too little gain, and the system supporting them does badly need to be reformed. […]

But moving an entire system like the U.S. government on your own is hard work. I only worked on it for a few years. It takes dogged tenacity, a loud voice, meticulous research, and the patience to network your way into the right offices to meet the right people who might be able to change things. It takes understanding how the legislative process works, how appropriations function, how Congress and the White House and the various national security departments interact.

Bradley Manning didn’t bother with any of that. After his immediate supervisor in Iraq didn’t respond to his complaints the way he wanted, Manning did not write about his experiences or concerns elsewhere. He did not search out open information to expose wrongdoing or poor decision making. He did not petition his own government, or Congress, or his superiors in Baghdad, or in Washington, or join a protest. He made the leap from having a bad feeling about the war to leaking hundreds of thousands of secret documents to a shadowy organization on the Internet. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Here’s the kicker, folks. Despite ALL the dire predictions, ALL the fretting, All the fuming, All the wringing of hands, ALL the sky-is-falling CRAP — the only thing that’s fallen is some of the Middle East’s most despicable tyrants! Nobody’s death or torture has been tied to the exposure! Widespread embarrassment? You betcha!  And what about the hypocrisy of the media’s unwillingness to stand up for Manning and Wikileaks, despite the fact they they constantly parrot — and make money off that parroting –  every newsworthy revelation from the reams of Pentagon and State department  documents that Manning/Assange (allegedly) took it upon themselves to declassify. Where’s the debate about re-calibrating the ratio of transparency and accountability in the name of national security? Where’s the national conversation about the threats that state secrecy poses to an open society? Where’s congressional hearings on the abuse of government secrecy?! Where are the people in the streets and public squares demanding less official secrets and more official truth? Oh right, that is happening — in the Middle East. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Here’s how the “powers that be” SHOULD end this mockery: immediately release Manning from custody, formally apologize, allow him to leave the armed services under a Medical Discharge, and agree to forgo any and all existing or future legal actions against him. But, recognizing that our military leadership is entirely too petty and pharisaic to ever do the altogether proper thing, here’s a given-the-circumstances decent and honorable face-saving alternative that deserves serious consideration, if not straight-up acceptance, by both sides: Manning is unconditionally released from custody; the army issues him an unspecified General Discharge; both parties agree to abstain from any and all legal action in perpetuity; a permanent iron-clad gag order is imposed on both sides. Enough is enough. It’s time to set things right. MORE

WIKILEAKS: Collateral Murder