Monday, March 14, 2011

Bradley Manning...

I've been thinking a lot about this kid and the hullaballoo surrounding him. I'll try now, because it's lunch and I can, to write some of my thoughts on the situation.

The first reaction I had was one that is colored heavily by my own job in intelligence. I know that Manning signed statements swearing to never release classified information on pain of life in prison or other punishments. That being said, point 1 goes to the US Government.

The second thing I had to do was ask myself, "but what if that information proves illegality by the US govt/military?" I gave Manning some (not a lot, but some) leeway in that case. I say only "some" because there are precautions built into the system for "whistle blowers". What I mean is, if I see something illegal happening (as a Private or a General) there are systems built into the Army which allow me to bring that to light. Now, if I give Manning the benefit of the doubt and assume that he worked through those systems and nothing was done (which I doubt since there would be evidence of that), then I guess you could say the next step would be some sort of civil disobedience where you say that your dedication to the rule of law is higher than your oath to not release classified information. So, this one--and I stress only because I give the kid the most outrageous benefit of the doubt, for argument's sake only--goes to Manning.

However, the third issue for me is--even if I give him the benefit of the doubt above, then it still doesn't justify his releasing thousands upon thousands of diplomatic cables. That definitely ISN'T "civil disobedience" by any means--point, US GOVT.

Now, he's released the information and is put into prison pending a trial. Having signed the waiver saying exactly this would happen, I have no pity for the boy. He loses, point Army.

As for his treatment in prison, this one's difficult. It seems as though the govt is doing a piss-poor job of PR, to say the least. If I give Manning the benefit of the doubt again, and assume that everything he's written is true and take it all in the most flattering light for him and negative light for the Army, then yeah, point Manning...however, I don't know if I can.

From what I've read, a lot of his allegations aren't founded, and aren't verified by any source outside his letters. Take, for example, the allegation I read recently that he was "forced to strip naked and stand at parade rest". Which was followed by an explanation that all prisons are told to stand at parade rest for morning inspection, and that Manning chose to strip off his clothes. That would change the situation completely and instead of being some sort of forced torture on the part of the Army into an attempt by Manning to "get" the guards, and having it backfire.

So, I guess my overall understanding is that Manning is an idiot (for breaking a fairly simple oath he signed) but that the government is doing its best to turn what is a clear-cut case of subversion into a martyr. Sometimes a tactical win can be a strategic loss, and in the case of public relations, the treatment of (or, more appropriately, perceived treatment of) Manning might turn out to be such a case.


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