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Who is Private Bradley Manning? Mainstream Media Focuses on Wrong Subject in WikiLeaks Scandal

12.21.10

With people on one side calling Julian Assange a hero and others calling him a terrorist for his organization WikiLeaks publishing classified government documents online, it’s hard to determine where I stand.  Am I for his anarchistic, reveal the secrets, power to the people ideology?  Or are his actions putting lives in danger and a detriment to the free world?

Guest blogger Sean Brown wrote his take on this fiasco yesterday and you can read it here.

Considering the fact that we were misled into the war in Iraq under the guise of WMD which were never found and that the embarrassing revelation at Abu Ghraib informed us that America was torturing its war prisoners, it’s hard to trust the government these days — if it ever was trustworthy to begin with.  Assange’s goals with leaking these confidential documents is to bring transparency to governments, which will create justice.

A noble goal, indeed.

But at the same time, I don’t know that what he’s doing is all that productive.  In the short term, at least, he’s reinforcing the tight security measures and potentially liberty-busting new laws like the SHIELD Act. While the unauthorized release of classified information is already illegal, lawmakers are taking aim directly at publishers now with this new legislation, which could have some serious ramifications on the freedom of the press — all in the name of national security (pretty much the official conversation ender these days, regardless of party affiliation).

What’s interesting is how much face time Assange has gotten for all of this, when the reality is that someone else is leaking this information to him to publish.  Who is on the inside sending them the documents?  And why aren’t they the ones being scrutinized all over the mainstream media?  It seems that we’ve forgotten that old adage: don’t shoot the messenger.

Perhaps its even shadier than that.

It turns out that the accused culprit behind a leak was Pfc. Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old Army Private, who has been held in solitary confinement for over seven months with no trail date even set. You won’t see his face on the main page of CNN or Yahoo or Fox News.  You’ll for sure see something about WikiLeaks or Assange’s rape charges (which, if legitimate, are serious crimes and nothing to be brushed aside) on them all, though, without having to look much beyond the top headlines.  MSNBC and CBS News have run stories about Manning, but they’ve not gotten the nationwide attention as the other two heavy hitters.  Not by a long shot.

How ridiculous that the mass media continues to fail miserably at exposing the injustices being done by our own government, whose own questionable actions are a direct result of Assange’s methods of exposing the injustices being done by governments. And instead of focusing on the real story that should be investigated — Private Manning — the media takes aim at WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, neither of whom are the real issues here.

There will always be another WikiLeaks.  Another rebel looking to spread secrets and gain notoriety.  Another insider looking to break the code of conduct.  Similar to the futile effort by the music industry to end piracy by demonizing Napster, the government’s knee-jerk reaction against WikiLeaks and Assange is a hollow attack all for show, focusing on his salacious rape charges instead of the stories that truly affect Americans.

Like why an American not yet convicted of a single crime is being held in a Supermax-like captivity with no trial in sight.

Image courtesy of Steve Rhodes’ Flickr Photostream.

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3 comments

  1. Manning was sold out buy fame whore “hacker” Adrian Lamo, who is very good friends with a few of the writers at Wired. In some chat logs, he thought knew what he was in for if he had gotten caught, and he stated that if he did nothing he would have to live with that, which when you’re 19 seems like super-hero shit to say.

    It is unfortunate that he hasnt received as much attention in terms of what exactly the govt is going to do with this situation, but if there looking at his as a potentially treasonous act, well he best be getting ready for the firing squad.

    My stance on this whole thing is its good. We classify way too much unimportant stuff, as proven by the latest dump. We have tons of people with no good guidelines as to what should be secret. When you make even the mundane aspects of Govt secret, its a dark road, . Its just too bad all this had to be revealed by a young man who may not really understand the personal ramifications of dealing with an asshat like Assange.


    • I tend to think you’re right, Jessica. I think overall it’s a good thing. Exposing lies and corruption might be painful for some in the short term, but is better in the long run — especially for us citizens. I get that there needs to be certain levels of classification to protect covert ops and sensitive negotiations between heads of state and intelligence agencies. And that could still be the case — but, some of this stuff needs to just be out in the open.

      And Manning had to know what he was going to get. He’s 22 years old and in the Army — it’s not like he wasn’t aware what we do to alleged traitors and terrorists. At best he’ll get solitary for the rest of his life like that Hanssen guy. I give him props for doing what he thought needed to be done, but man, he just pretty much signed his own death warrant. A long, psychologically destroying death all alone. I do not envy him. He’d get better treatment if he’d just murdered someone (in most states, anyway).


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