Bradley Manning is a United States Army soldier who has created an avalanche of controversy with his alleged leaks of classified government documents to the media watchdog website Wikileaks. Because of his actions, not only is the American public forced to re-evaluate their government’s actions in the Middle East, but also how the government is reacting to an insider exposing its ‘wrongdoing’.
Before 2010 Manning was trained as an intelligence analyst and received
a top secret security clearance, which granted him access to “unprecedented” amounts of classified material.
In May 2010 Manning was arrested in Iraq on suspicion of giving WikiLeaks classified material. He was charged with nearly 22 offenses, the most important being aiding the enemy.
After his arrest, Manning was taken to a Level 1 military prison in Virginia, where he was held until April 2011. He was held under the Prevention of Injury status, meaning he was subject to solitary confinement and other restrictions which were seen internationally as inhumane treatment. His treatment was justified by the Marine Corps Brig. Quantico as necessary because Manning had supposed mental conditions, including suicidal thoughts. However, in April 2011 his detention conditions accused of violating the United States Constitution, and he was transferred to another detention center. His trial is expected to start in June 2013.
The material published by WikiLeaks between April and November 2010 include:
-Videos of the 2007 Baghdad airstrike and the 2009 Afghanistan airstrike
-250,000 US diplomatic cables
-500,000 US Army reports (“Afghan War Logs” & “Iraq War Logs”)
-Guantanamo Bay files
Manning’s work with WikiLeaks has been credited with being the catalyst for the Arab Spring, which began after the leaked cables exposed vast government corruption.
The American public seemed to have had a different response to the international scandal than the American media. Countless support petitions and websites were formed for the release of Bradley Manning, calling out the injustices of the inner-workings of the United States government. Conservatives and Liberals alike seem to be in agreement on the issue, severely questioning US military tactics and reasons for their war in the Middle East. The documents leaked by Manning reveal US war crimes and corruption of governments around the world.
Ron Paul, a Republican politician, made a speech on whistleblowers stating: “Bradley Manning Bradley Manning hasn’t caused the death of anybody. And what he has exposed—he is the equivalent of Daniel Ellsberg, who told us the truth about Vietnam!”
Ann Wright, a resigned Colonel from the US State Department and currently a writer for Michael Moore’s website, describes this scandal as the government’s clear warning to whistleblowers and media watchdogs: “Don’t tell on us, or we will put you behind bars for the rest of your life.”
The alternative reaction to Manning, a viewer held by the US government, is that he is a traitor to his country and a national security threat….
I believe this incident is a wakeup call for the American public. Are Americans not supposed to hold the government accountable for its actions? Are they not supposed to know the truth of what the military is doing overseas, even when they are paying for it? The scariest part of this scandal, even more so than the information actually exposed, is how the government is reacting.
On the WikiLeaks website, it states: “Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public… To publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.” What possible harm could a media watchdog website such as WikiLeaks cause? In my opinion, the existence of sites such as WikiLeaks is vital for the protection of the public against government propaganda and to hold all world forces accountable for their actions. Bradley Manning and other whistleblowers risk their lives in order to expose the general public to the truth, and should inspire people to re-evaluate powerful institutions.
In the next few months, as the Manning trial proceeds, a lot can be revealed in how the government handles the situation. People should ask themselves why a man should lose his life for essentially just informing the American public. In my opinion, The Man doth protest too much.
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