The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bradley Manning, Wikileaks, Berkeley and Hypocrisy

Please read my thoughts on the Bradley Manning situation, but also please feel free to take the poll or leave your comments:

Do you believe Bradley Manning should be hailed or jailed for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks? free polls

Yesterday, I spoke with Fox News on a recent proposal by the Berkeley, Calif., City Council to hail disgraced soldier Bradley Manning as a hero for allegedly leaking more than 250,000 classified documents to the self-proclaimed watchdog Web site Wikileaks.

In response to the proposal I labeled Manning a traitor with blood on his hands for our Afghan allies sought out by the Taliban as a result of the leak.

Though Manning has not been convicted, he bragged in online chats to reformed hacker Adrian Lamo that he had copied the files to expose what he perceived as wrongdoing by the American government. Regardless of what Manning perceived to be his benevolent purposes, copying the files was a crime and distributing them for use against the United States was treason.

Manning's security breach was indiscriminate. He didn't simply target documents he had reviewed or thought contained questionable actions; he copied everything he could get his hands on and blindly turned it over to a subversive anti-American group without consideration for the contents.

Since the leaks, American lives in the combat zone have been compromised, American diplomatic ties have been weakened, and allies have been killed. Immediately following the irresponsible publishing of documents related to Afghanistan--a country in which Manning had never set foot--the Taliban began to scrub records for names of informants to, as Newsweek reported, hunt down and "punish" them.

Whether Manning thought he was serving a greater good, the wet-behind-the-ears private severely violated the terms of his security clearance and utterly disgraced the U.S. Army uniform he had volunteered to wear on one short year before. He has given aide and comfort to enemies of the United States, which, to me, makes Manning a traitor.

Though I certainly do not pity the boy who now sits in the brig at Marine Corps Base Quantico awaiting his Article 32 hearing, I do feel he may have been manipulated by a greater enemy of the United States, Wikileaks and its ego-maniacal front man Julian Assange.

What's curious to me about Wikileaks and the operations of self-proclaimed activist-journalist Assange is that he and his company rely on similar security protocols and secret operations which they rail against in the U.S. government.

For example, the paranoid Assange would routinely change his appearance and travel under aliases and Wikileaks continues to conceal its operational infrastructure, boasts military-grade encryption and even distributed a failsafe code should Assange or the Web site be compromised. I must ask Assange that if such protocols are critical to his success, wouldn't it follow that similar protocols would be necessary in government operations to ensure security and success in an unstable world?

We all have secrets. How would you feel if every candid, private moment of your life was available for public consumption? (I've seen the indignation on Facebook each time the site's security settings are updated, so I know we'd all be at the very least perturbed.)

But keep in mind, we're not simply talking about publicizing gossip, we're talking about classified exchanges critical to preserving national interests. When I was enlisted in the U.S. Army, I sat through briefings on the nuts and bolts of the classification process. It's serious business.

Classification levels do not exist to propagate some nebulous sweeping government conspiracy. They exist to protect lives; the lives of covert informants, the lives of American service members, and, most importantly, the lives of American citizens.

For American interests, the information stolen and distributed by Manning was not Top Secret in nature. Though some of the information is salacious--such as candid diplomatic cables--the information may not directly compromise national security. Unfortunately, for our allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the consequences from some of the leaked information have been dire, as indicated by the Newsweek story.

It's very confusing to me why anyone could hail Manning or Assange as cult heroes, as these pariahs and their supporters launch cyber attacks on entities that disagree with their tactics. (Seems hypocritical that cyberterrorists would seek to silence dissenting ideas in the name of "free speech.")

This whole situation is appalling; and Berkeley, in particular, should be ashamed for openly endorsing such ridiculous and dangerous behavior. It’s tragic that the same rights and liberties afforded to Berkeley’s citizens through the sacrifices of our service members and veterans can be manipulated and exploited for such an absurd purpose.

AMVETS has tangled with the bastion of ultraliberal thought in the past, when Past National Commander J.P. Brown III stood up for the Marine Corps recruiters being harassed by the city. The Berkeley City Council ultimately rejected the proposal to tell the Marines they were unwelcome in the city. Hopefully in this instance city counselors will once again act reasonably and reject Bradley Manning as their hero.


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  1. Manning's crimes endanger American lives. After his day in court, I hope he gets a long prison sentence. We need to send a strong message that will be remembered by other's with access to classified information that could endanger American lives. Manning swore an oath to protect our country. He broke that oath when he made a political statement that put thousands of fellow service members at greater risk.

  2. Ryan I think you are the man but this article was a little short on specifics. Your analogy about encryption was a stretch, and to say manning has blood on his hands is a bit dramatic considering you only cited some Taliban propaganda but didn't mention a specific incident. I expect some hard hitting facts from Ryan G. But thanks anyway for sharing you views. Lastly, wikileaks is nothing more then a legal loophole being exploited by a group of lawyers. The value or harm of their efforts wouldn't be seen for decades because its radical and new. Obviously it acts as a check against the governments power. Realistically its too early to tell if that is a good thing or bad thing. That's why peoples opinions lack specifics. I guess we'll see if they can whether the storm or not.

  3. This post also makes unsupported assertions. Can you show any proof regarding the risks you claim have materialized?

    What puts more soldiers lives at risk- these leaks or the war? This war is killing more people than the released cables are. Since when are we not willing to lose lives over a greater good? It seems only when we agree with the politics.

    Sometimes whistleblowers save lives, for example Franz Gayl.

  4. Food for thought

    Lets not forget in Nov in Pa, a mossad group called ITRR was spying on veterans who peacefully protesting on issues.. The straw Man may be alive

  5. I want to note that this piece is my opinion on the issue. I can assure that many of my assertions, if I didn't cite them in the posting, can be supported easily through the wealth of information available on this issue. Others draw directly on my experience in the military. I was doing my best to be concise.

  6. Perhaps rather than fixating on a PFC and what punishment he should be given we should focus on other more pertinent Veterans related issues. For example, the recent analysis and reporting on PTSD by Veterans groups and the medical community is commendable. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs in June 2010, there were 171,423 deployed Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans diagnosed with PTSD, out of total of 593,634 patients treated by VA ( Thus far 84,005 Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veteran patients have been granted VA disability compensation; of that about half for PTSD.Often disregarded is the fact that many of our wounded veterans are surviving injuries that would have resulted in their fatality in wars past. Recently I read The Long-term Costs of Providing Veterans Medical Care and Disability Benefits (2007) “As of September 30, 2006, more than 50,500 US soldiers have suffered non-mortal wounds in Iraq, Afghanistan and nearby staging locations —a ratio of 16 wounded servicemen for every fatality. This is by far the highest killed-to-wounded ratio in US history.”

    If this ratio still exists today it will require further medical treatment for our wounded veterans in addition to treating TBI and PTSD. Given the escalating costs of medical care and budget constraints it will be interesting to see if Congress maintains it’s commitment to supporting the troops after they have left the battlefield.
    Very respectfully,
    Nathan W. Tierney
    CW3, USA