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Sun Jan 20, 2013, 04:29 PM

Bradley Manning: What is at the heart of the matter?

Last edited Sun Jan 20, 2013, 07:41 PM - Edit history (1)

The act: The biggest act of "spilling the beans" in the history of the world. Thousands of military as well as other governmental communications which were classified secret or confidential were suddenly made public

The motive: Manning felt the only way to right a wrongdoing was to expose it. Since so much of the information showed acts of wrongdoing, the one way to make sure it would come to light would be reveal all of it.

The genesis of the motive: As a private in the army, Manning followed the rules by bringing what he thought was unlawful behavior to his superiors. His superiors, however, decided not to act upon his complaint. Manning, frustrated by the inaction regarding the transgressions he reported, decided to act on his own because he saw the actions of his superiors as being morally, perhaps even legally wrong, and the only way for him n o t to be part of such immoral/illegal behavior was to expose it on his own.

The military context: The general subtext for soldiers, especially low-ranking ones, is "Ours is not to question why. Ours is but to do or die." In other words, you better not question authority, especially not direct orders. But--- if a subordinate is given an unlawful order, he or she is to resist that order.

The reaction: After divulging thousands of governmental communications, people in various governmental agencies from the military to the state department felt betrayed because communications they thought were private were suddenly made public. Much of what was revealed was of great embarrassment to the persons who wrote the exposed communication. In other words, Manning, in his naive way of wishing to right a wrong, ended up committing one of the greatest violations of the privacy of the members of the U.S. as well as other governments.

The emotional component of the reaction: Sudden embarrassment may result in unfathomable anger on the part of all those whose privacy was violated. The target of this anger? ---Bradley Manning.

Did Manning intend to cause the emotlonal anguish resulting massive embarrassment? The answer lies in Manning's heart and mind.

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply Bradley Manning: What is at the heart of the matter? (Original post)
NobodyInParticular Jan 2013 OP
1-Old-Man Jan 2013 #1
JDPriestly Jan 2013 #2
JDPriestly Jan 2013 #3
OneTenthofOnePercent Jan 2013 #4
redgreenandblue Jan 2013 #5
randome Jan 2013 #6
NobodyInParticular Jan 2013 #7
JDPriestly Jan 2013 #8

Response to NobodyInParticular (Original post)

Sun Jan 20, 2013, 04:36 PM

1. and if we learn nothing else from this it is that far too much information is classified

Most of what he released was just diplomatic junk mail, but never the less it held high classification. It is very expensive to maintain classified information, all the way from clearing people to the actual physical storage of information and artifacts. So one of the things I see here is that there is way too much stuff being classified, and as the piece alludes, most of it is simply embarrassing, but not the stuff of national intrigue.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 04:00 AM

2. Agreed. Way too much is classified.

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Response to NobodyInParticular (Original post)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 04:01 AM

3. K&R

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Response to NobodyInParticular (Original post)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 06:09 AM

4. Illegal transfer of classified materials (despite benign content) is serious business.

 

He took action on something he firmly believed in. That is excellent - the world would be a better place today if more people had his beliefs/convictions. He also broke the law in a willing premeditated fashion; laws and regulations which there is absolutely ZERO ambiguity about what constitutes violation and what the consequences can be.

Government ITAR and handling, creation, transfer and destruction of classified materials is literally crammed down the throats of those who must work with it on a daily basis. Zero ambiguity. I'm not saying I'd make the same choice he did (I absolutely wouldn't) but I understand why he felt he did it and in making the well informed choice that he did, the choice was obviously worth it at the time.

SO I guess I've just got to ask, 'What did he think was going to happen?"

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Response to NobodyInParticular (Original post)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 06:46 AM

5. He is charged with "aiding the enemy". That charge at least is void.

A country has no right to charge someone with this, if the war in the context of which this charge arose is itself a breach of international law. This is the case in Iraq.

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Response to NobodyInParticular (Original post)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 06:48 AM

6. And handing the information to an Australian was the way to go about this?

Hardly. There are all sorts of whistleblower procedures he could have followed. There are noble Democrats in Congress who would have helped him.

Manning suffers from gender identity disorder. He punched a superior officer. He was found on the floor curled in a fetal position after having carved the words 'I want' into a chair.

He is emotionally unstable. The things he 'exposed' resulted in no changes. He may have been considered an adult in the Army but it's plain he acted like a confused kid.

His superiors deserve blame for this, as well, because they were warned not to deploy him to Iraq and they let him have access to classified material.

But he is not the noble soldier some want to portray him as. He is very confused.

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Response to randome (Reply #6)

Mon Jan 21, 2013, 04:02 PM

7. A noble soldier?

The only way to find out if he was noble, ignoble or someone somewhere in between is to find out what his decision making steps were. A confused kid is a kid groping for an identity, and in this process he confronts the social universe in which he is, and he responds in accordance with whatever values are dominant within him. I see him as someone desperately trying to do what is right, but not having a well-functioning role model that provides him with ways of coping with what he sees as wrong, he strikes out against the system that refuses to communicate let alone acknowledge him. Yes, there are whistleblower procedures in places--but I seriously doubt that army recruits are handed brochures outlining said procedures.

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Response to randome (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 11:12 AM

8. This morning I woke up thinking about your post.

"Manning suffers from gender identity disorder. He punched a superior officer. He was found on the floor curled in a fetal position after having carved the words 'I want' into a chair.

He is emotionally unstable. The things he 'exposed' resulted in no changes. He may have been considered an adult in the Army but it's plain he acted like a confused kid.

His superiors deserve blame for this, as well, because they were warned not to deploy him to Iraq and they let him have access to classified material.

But he is not the noble soldier some want to portray him as. He is very confused."

Dismissing Manning as emotionally unstable is all too easy.

It may be that he is actually a young man with a strong sense of morality who was caught in a vise created by the total immorality of the actions and attitudes of his commanding officers and his own sense of right and wrong.

If so, he would not be the first to be classified as "emotionally unstable" or "mentally ill" because his the immorality around him was at a dissonance with his moral sense.

In the USSR, people whose moral sense put them at odds with the loyalty required of them by their government were called "dissidents." They were unceremoniously imprisoned, sent away for years to Siberia in some cases.

Are we better than the repressive Communist regime in the Soviet Union? Can we respect our dissidents?

Did Manning violate a law? Maybe. Is he a reminder of an abandoned morality, a morality we once valued?

Were Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and all who fought the Revolutionary War for their ideals also mentally unstable? The conduct you ascribe to Manning is not nearly as defiant as Washington's attacks on British soldiers or the Boston Tea Party.

These are things to think about. When do we acknowledge that a young, idealistic individual who shows moral courage may be righter than our might government? Is that the case here? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves.

I heard last week that a new book is coming out that discusses the many hidden atrocities our troops committed in Viet Nam. The author studied the atrocities as part of an investigation of the causes of post-traumatic stress. That should be interesting and may shine some new light on Manning's case.

Anyway, thought I would write this down since I woke up with these thoughts on my mind.

How should a person deal with obvious immorality of the kind that young soldiers see?

It's a tough question. Embrace the immorality? Or reject it? Keep the immorality a secret? Or expose it?

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