Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bradley Manning and Treason

Julian Assange has dominated much of the ongoing Wikileaks coverage, in part because of his showboating persona, and in part because our more benighted elected officials and members of our commentariat have an unhealthy fixation on killing the messenger.

Thus comparatively little attention has been paid to Bradley Manning, the Pfc. suspected of providing several of Wikileaks' document caches. My initial response regarding him was that he was skirting treason, and that the only thing that could probably save him from such a charge is that he had the documents published instead of passing them onto a foreign government.

Glenn Greenwald notes that Manning considered this very matter:

Manning: i mean what if i were someone more malicious- i could've sold to russia or china, and made bank?

Lamo: why didn’t you?

Manning: because it's public data

Lamo: i mean, the cables

Manning: it belongs in the public domain -information should be free - it belongs in the public domain - because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge - if its out in the open… it should be a public good.

The indiscriminate release of the State Department's international communication network is likely going to do more harm than good. Doing so in order to give the diplomatic sector such a shock that it is rendered inoperable is premised on the assumption that the State Department is conspiratorial enterprise rather than an organization engaging in conspiracy. Julian Assange may endorse this view--he's expressed more moderate opinions elsewhere--but it's obvious Manning was acting out of a desire to expose very real wrongdoing, which is resolutely not a betrayal of his country.

Yet the Obama administration may very well dispute this. Their present disgraceful treatment of Manning dispiritingly suggests as much. If they do consider Manning a traitor, he will be in fact vindicated. If they do,

were fucking screwed (as a society) - and i dont want to believe that we’re screwed.

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