On the other hand.. we have Private Bradley Manning. I've got mixed feelings on him. First off. He DID commit treason. He DID take actions that led to outcomes DEFINITELY counter to American interests. His actions did NOT benefit the public or the government. He hurt the US interests overseas, endangered allies and cost lives and trust in those committed to our interests. The leaked cables cost lives in the Middle East, cost hard won trust among allies and diplomatic circles. We lost trust. That is hard to regain in the diplomatic AND espionage fields. If you can't be trusted to keep secrets.. folks won't talk to you. If you've been proven to not be able to keep folk's names/locations secret.. the next person you try to recruit WON'T rely on you to keep them and their family secret.
See, I've seen this claim (the one in bold) made many times, buy I've yet to hear any actual numbers or facts to back it up. I am not ruling out the possiblity that I just missed those news, but so far I haven't seen anyone provide actual proof that those cable leaks directly or even indirectly resulted in lost lives. So, no offense, but I do think this kind of discredits the claim.
What I do agree with is that the U.S. did lose trust. But they did get caught spying on allies through really skeevy methods... and if trust is so important to the U.S. government... maybe they shouldn't be doing that? If the truth is contrary to the interests of a government then maybe that government's interests aren't all that righteous in the first place and should be pushed back against, maybe even by its own people. I mean, I'm no intelligence agent, but I do take pride on being smart and generally well informed, and the actions exposed by the cables that Manning released that 'caused the biggest blowback... really don't strike me as anything that would help protect the American people in any way. But it does strike me as something that would inspire me to distrust the American government.
That being said, as a member of the US Military (retired) I am.. TOTALLY ashamed in the manner of his continued and protracted imprisonment. We have an obligation to do the trial, detention and treatment of our people in the proper way. YEARS in solitary suicide watch is wrong. Period. We are trying to be the 'right side' on this. That means.. you do it RIGHT and by your LAWS dammit. I really think part of this was done to keep it from being an election issue.. it shouldn't have been.
Now this, I can agree with.
That is why Snowden did right in my opinion but Manning didn't do his release in any real intent to serve the public good..he was striking out in anger for the system not 'giving him his due'. I've met men like him in the service, and they get bitter when they put their failures on the system..and back to whoever outed Valerie Plame did it to serve a political agenda that would harm her husband's political career.
I don't think you can actually prove that his intent was not to help the American people. It can be argued that he was indeed angry at the government itself for being about discharge him for service due to being *GASP* gay, and wished to lash out and harm them.
At the same time, it could also very well be exactly what he says it was, that he thought that information belonged in the public domain.
I mean, if my government was allowing my country's soldiers to gun down innocent civilians and journalists in the streets of Iraq DELIBERATELY, I'd kinda' want to know about it.
That being said.. I don't think Manning should have been held as long as he did.. and honestly.. I don't hold him responsible for the deaths his leaks might have caused, though I do hold him responsible for the loss of face and trust in diplomatic circles the country took. That is an intangible loss at best that we can re-earn if we do things right. The person I hold responsible for any deaths from the Wikileaks incident is Julian Assange.. who operated with vast ranges of hubris, ego and a dire lack of empathy for anyone who didn't share his outlook. He, however, is neither an American citizen or without our territory. So.. we have to let him go. Snowden should return to the US to face the consequences of his actions like Daniel Ellsberg did with the disclosure of the Pentagon papers, but I can understand (given the late actions of the administration and government at large) why he might be reluctant.
Any deaths... so, no word on specific deaths as of yet?
Doesn't the American criminal justice system rest on the core value of Assumption of Innocence (innocent until proven guilty)? If so, why are we condemning Assange for deaths we don't even know happened yet? (unless you wish to provide specific examples?)
We're standing on the edge a dangerous moment. One side.. the continued erosion of liberty and freedoms within our country and the return to a more tolerant rational outlook on the other. Since 9/11 we've lived in fear. That needs to end. Yes, we are in a dangerous world.. but we were before the Towers fell. .and will be again. We don't turtle in and sell the future's rights and freedoms to protect the present. Being the good guy isn't easy.. and sometimes folks like Snowden and Ellsberg have to face prison time to do the right thing and bring change.
I know that Americans love to think they are the good guys, but this is honestly a flawed and far too one sided view. There are no good guys in history (and if there are, they're certainly not running the United States Government, nor have they been for a long time). The Iraq war certainly wasn't born of good intentions, it was born of fear and misinformation (They've got ALUMINUM! GET THEM!), and the Afghanistan war was nothing short of an overreaction that the American government decided to commit to for far too long. Neither of them was needed to catch Osama Bin Laden (despite what Jessica Chastain wants you to believe), and neither of them has made the American public any safer (or the Iraqi, or Afghan public for sure). By the way... I can actually back those statements up with facts, but even so, I apologize if they offend you.
Now, I will agree that Saddam Hussein needed to be deposed, and tried for his crimes, but that wasn't the responsibility of the U.S. It was the responsibility of the Iraqi people.
This statement that "we're the good guys" kind of ignores the kind of mentality that the U.S. has been running on for ages now. Nixon spied on Democrats unlawfully, Reagan sold arms to Contras, and then there was Vietnam and Korea way before that. The last war that the U.S. got into that was lawfully declared was World War II. I realize that there are a lot of people that are good and have good intentions in the U.S., and it's a country built on beautiful values (even if it's a tad hypocritical to say all men are created equal, and then go home to your slaves and have them pack your lunch for an expedition out west to kill all the natives, it's still a beautiful value). But to try to characterize the American government as the good guys in the world stage or in world History? Yeah, no, that simply doesn't fly with anyone that has even a mediocre grasp on history.
Because doing right isn't ever the same as doing the easy thing. Being a moral and ethical human trying to protect your country sometimes means you have to run against the system you serve. I have done it in saying 'no sir' when I served.. I've seen men and women ruin their careers to do it.
Right... I've got no objection with this statement, my only objection with your overall point is that you really can't prove that this isn't what Bradley Manning was trying to do.