I've purposely been mostly silent on the Wikileaks business, but I'll begin by saying I do not agree with Wikileaks' most recent actions. However, I certainly do not believe Assange should be prosecuted over it. The United States has an obligation to guard its secrets. Mr. Assange does not. He is not American nor subject to American jurisdiction. I do not like what he did any more than I like to see people burning the American flag overseas. That does not mean I believe we need to start wars or prosecutions over it. Wikileaks was given the information. All we know at this point is that they did nothing illegal to obtain it. They have every right to publish what they obtain. That is free speech and the United States has to live with it.
Pfc. Bradley Manning, however, is a different story.
Bradley Manning was born in Oklahoma and enlisted in the Army of his own free will at age 18. Manning was an intelligence analyst assigned to the famed 10th Mountain Division which is headquartered at Fort Drum, N.Y. He was promoted to the rank of Specialist. Before this incident, he faced disciplinary action including being busted down in rank back to Pfc. His unit was deployed to Iraq. In his position an analyst, he was given access to DISN, although it appears not full access. His clearance level was secret, giving him access to both confidential and secret information, but not Top Secret.
Private Manning should have had his secret clearance taken at the first incident of trouble. After striking a fellow soldier, being busted down in rank, and being prepared to be discharged, it is simply insane that this man was still given clearance. The Pentagon should investigate Private Manning's chain of command because there was a problem of supervision here. I realize that the granting of secret clearance is not uncommon. I had it myself while standing watch at an American embassy. However, at any sign of discipline problem, which striking a fellow soldier definitely is, that security clearance has to go. I don't know about Big Army, but I know the Corps would have put Manning to cleaning head pronto. So that's the Pentagon's fault in this.
But Private Manning had a responsibility as well. As a member of the armed forces, he is sworn to defend the constitution and obey his chain of command. When Manning was given a security clearance, he was given the duty to keep what he saw secret, no matter how disturbing or unconstitutional. And if he did see something criminal or unconstitutional, he should have reported this up his chain of command. If he got resistance or inaction from his chain of command, then he should have taken it to the staff of the House or Senate Intelligence Committees. If that was ineffective, he should have taken the matter to the Inspector-General. And if that didn't work, refer the matter to FBI or other Justice Department officials who deal with intelligence matters. Only after exhausting all these avenues of administrative remedy should Private Manning have gone to the press, and even then only after he was discharged.
What you don't do is leak that information to a foreign entity. That is most certainly something very much like sedition. Or if he was a Marine, very much like mutiny.
It is only fitting that he is now in the Marine Corps Brig at Quantico. That is exactly where his ass belongs until a court-martial strips of him of whatever dignity he has left and puts him away for a long, long time. He is not a good soldier and certainly not a hero. He should consider himself lucky no American lives were lost as result of his actions or he'd deserve to be put before a firing squad or hanged at high noon. I have absolutely no sympathy for people who voluntarily join our armed forces and then bring dishonor upon it. But there is a chain of command and a military code of justice for a reason: to distinguish the real heroes from the posers.
Private Manning didn't believe in any of this. He didn't believe in the uniform he wore nor what it stood for. He didn't believe in his country. Which is fine. That is his right. He only needed to serve out his tour and become a civilian. He could then emigrate to any country of choice. But what he did while serving in uniform is no different than your banker taking your deposits and heading to Vegas. A trust was violated and a vow broken. He isn't a hero in any sense of the word. Because real heroes don't do shit like this. Not in this way.
So I say free Assange. Shame on the Pentagon. And good riddance to Bradley Manning.