Bradley Manning and Julian Assange – two non-heroes

Dan Abrams at Mediaite:

Bradley Manning’s Own Defense Appears To Concede He’s No Hero

Hailed as a hero by some for exposing what they claim are U.S. government misdeeds, as well as illegal and immoral conduct, he has websites like devoted to him and many prominent supporters — aside from, of course, Wikileaks editor Julian Assange. Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg stated flatly that he “was Bradley Manning” and that he was profoundly affected by Manning’s decision to leak. “I never thought,” he said of Manning, “for the rest of my life, I would ever hear anyone willing to do that, to risk their life, so that horrible, awful secrets could be known.” Manning himself can allegedly be counted among those promoting the lionization of his image, accused of having said about his own conduct: “This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.”

Unfortunately, that sort of principled position is far from what his own defense team suggests motivated Manning’s alleged perfidy. No, they appear to be pursuing the defense that he was a gay man in a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military, struggling with gender identity issues, who never should have had access to the files in the first place. His attorney focused on Manning’s alter ego, Breanna Manning, and quoted an email from Manning where he said his “entire life feel(s) like a bad dream that won’t end. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what will happen to me. But at this point I feel like I am not here anymore.” That characterization suggests he was no hero; not a man standing for principle nor acting in the best interest of the country but, rather, a sad troubled soul worthy of sympathy. It is a defense which appears to concede that he leaked the documents but also abandons any pretense of righteousness in exchange for an apologia for his behavior. That is a trade Assange himself would likely detest since he complained to then New York Times Editor Bill Keller that a profile of Manning “psychologicalized” him while giving “short shrift” to his “political awakening.”

and Rex Murphy at National Post:

My view of the WikiLeaks disclosures – leaving aside for the time being the Americans own vast carelessness over the files – is that they were absolutely wrong. The action was licensed only by Assange’s own massively arrogant assumption that he, Julian Assange, was somehow “entitled” to do so; that he was the Solon who could determine whether lives could be put at risk, relations between countries ruptured, names named, and life-and death operations opened to all.

We have come to regard almost any and all actions against “the state” automatically as works of virtue and worthy of praise. But our esteem is, in many instances, deeply misplaced and fraught with mischief and peril. Assange is more fame-seeker and groupie-collector than he is a moral agent. We should not confuse Assange, or the immature, morally witless Bradley Manning, with Solhenitsyn or Sakharov. The great Russians were heros who faced imprisonment, torture and ostracism to tell the truth. Assange was taxed to summon the courage for an appearance on the Today Show, with the grand inquisitor Meredith Vierra.

It may come as a surprise to the excitable protestors of the West that not everything a democracy does is wrong; that the United States is not monolithically wicked; that rules and laws have some purpose other than to be broken on some callow individual’s own authority; or that every one who has a secret to spill is not necessarily motivated by conscience.

Assange was a very poor choice of hero from the beginning. He should have been shunned for his recklessness, rebuked for his arrogance, and held to account for the many lives he has either wrecked or put in jeopardy.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m a ratfucking fascist because I don’t follow the politically correct party line.

But it seems to me that a lot of people made some hasty assumptions about Bradley Manning and Julian Assange that just aren’t true. People assumed that Manning was a brave whistle-blower acting on his conscience. It turns out he is a disturbed and pathetic individual. Others defended him as a gay man facing persecution by a homophobic military. Ironically, the evidence showed that his superiors were aware of his sexual orientation but ignored it.

As for Assange, even if he is innocent of any crimes in Sweden his behavior was that of a low-life scumbag. It’s easy to feel pity for Manning, but not Assange.

On the other hand, none of the evidence available so far would warrant a sentence of death or life in prison for either man.

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23 Responses to Bradley Manning and Julian Assange – two non-heroes

  1. Two asswipes that I have no sympathy for. They did stuff they knew was really bad and could cause people to die unnecessarily. There were a few things in those leaked documents that could have been defended as legitimate whistle blowing efforts to disclose bad things going on. But the disregard for what was legitimate wrongdoing to be disclosed in a safe way vs. the material that had no daylight value but still put lives at risk is abhorrent.

  2. Lola-at-Large says:

    Manning may have been and may be disturbed, but I don’t think that diminishes the importance or righteousness of what he did with regard to leaking the document. Bottom line for me is that our government is engaged in activity that is morally repugnant and extra-Constitutional, and it adds insult to injury by trying to hide those deeds from We The People. The government has no right to do these things and it is anathema to democracy itself. So I’m glad he did it and I hope more do it. I support the Age of Transparency, whether that be voluntary or involuntary.

    I would also argue that it’s not Manning’s actions at all, but the government’s itself that people’s lives were at risk. They put those people in those positions, after all. My 2 cents.

    • There was material in the vast amount of stuff released that should have been released. When the government is doing things wrong, it should be leaked. Unfortunately for us, Obama has removed a number of whistleblower protections.

      There was also volumes of stuff that by the very nature of the way the state department works needs to be secret. And what’s secret has nothing to do with the government doing things wrong. It’s just the way you have state to state discussions. Releasing some of that could cause irreversible harm.

      I absolutely do not support transparency in all things. State must have some secrets to function. Defense infrastructure must have some secrets to function. But too often there are things hidden under those requirements that shouldn’t be hidden.

      How the pentagon papers release was covered is a good example of the right approach. Exposing all the material that wikileaks did is a perfect example of how not to do it.

      • Zaladonis says:

        What are some examples of the volumes of stuff that was released that needs to be kept secret?

        • DandyTiger says:

          Yes, list the things with links that when exposed or, now, if more reminders are discussed again, could cause lots of people to die.

        • Zaladonis says:

          Oh please with the drama. What kind of secrets, repeated on this blog, do you claim would cause lots of people to die? Don’t need to be specific about the secrets, themselves, if you’re so afraid of mass death as a result, just tell me in broad terms the sort of secrets.

          • myiq2xu says:

            Names – some countries get upset when they find out their citizens have been helping (and/or getting help from) the United States.

        • The pirate loves drama. What I’m talking about are just common sense things about how a state department works and how a defense infrastructure works for any particular country. Countries know all sorts of secrets about each other. They communicate with each other about secrets of other countries. They sometimes talk candidly about things that they can’t talk about to their constituents. If some of those things come out, then relations among countries change, current leaders of countries change, etc. It’s common sense. There were lots of documents leaked that included those things, and relations among various countries did change.

          As for defense departments, that’s so common sensical, I’m sure you don’t need examples. What are your strategic capabilities, plans, current deployments, what are your battle plans in current wars, etc. And of course, like with a state department, what are your ongoing relations and negotiations and general discussion. Disclosing some of those things could clearly cost many lives.

          Many have argued lives have been lost as a direct consequence of the leaks, and many have argued that lives are more at risk today because of those leaks. Some of those risks are the price you pay for some leaks that should have happened because there is serious wrong doing from a country, many of those risks were due to the arrogance and desire for power by Assange. Sort of old news now of course.

        • Yes, myiq, that’s right. Some documents disclosed individuals that have been helping our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some undercover, some just language translators, etc. Some of those people are now dead.

        • Zaladonis says:

          That makes sense, Moose.

          If there’s going to be a jury trial I wish I could sit on the jury. Would love to hear the full case made by each side. Interesting convergence of rights and necessity of a free Democratic society.

    • myiq2xu says:

      Manning didn’t even know what all he was leaking. He downloaded thousands of documents and turned them over to Wikileaks without reading them first.

      I might have a different opinion about him if he was very careful in what he leaked.

  3. votermom says:

    OT. I finally thought of a Resolution:

    • DandyTiger says:

      Honk, honk.

    • DeniseVB says:

      Speaking of We The People, I saw a photo of OWS at the Rose Parade marching with a 200 mile long (estimated, heh) copy of the Constitution with a honking big WE THE PEOPLE sign. Isn’t that so Tea Party of them?

      Well, there is hope for our country if our left and right factions can find one common goal that’s important to all of us, fix it, then go back to bickering over stupid stuff 😉

  4. DeniseVB says:

    Amateur punks. A real leaker would have shown us Obama’s college transcripts with full financial disclosure. 😉

  5. yttik says:

    I feel bad for Manning. I think he has major mental health problems. I think the Army was negligent in not identifying that he had problems and I think the wikileaks people exploited a mentally ill person. He’s guilty and could have done a lot of harm, so I hope he’s held accountable, but he’s not the real criminal here.

    • Zaladonis says:

      If he was mentally ill before being arrested, the terms of his detention — 23 hours a day of solitary and stripped virtually naked at night — seems all the more out of line.

      • yttik says:

        I don’t know, allegedly they were doing that for his own protection. If he was suicidal or violent, i imagine they probably would put him in solitary and take away his clothes.

        I don’t know where you draw that line between crazy and fully accountable for all your actions, but this guy was confused about his gender, found one day curled up in a fetal position, and didn’t even bother to check and see what info was leaking. Nothing about him seems very stable.

        • DeniseVB says:

          The Ft. Hood shooter was protected more rights and given better treatment than this poor kid 😦

          And our idiot President and his crack security team felt the need to blabber about Seal Team 6 being the OBL killers. The media soon blabbed they were from my area, which put a heightened security on our schools and malls, and put a higher alert on our local bases for a few days.

  6. Catfish says:

    Uh, Wikileaks was very careful about vetting what got released, only a few thousand cables were released of the hundreds of thousands that they received.

    It was “responsible” “mainstream” outlet The Guardian that leaked the key to the whole shebang.

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