Monday, May 30, 2011

More on Bradley Manning

Pfc. Manning has been moved from the U.S. Marines brig, but is still in prison, with no trial date announced. I recommend that readers here research his name online. I only have space for a short comment on an ethical question. A recent 60 Minutes episode featured an interview with the man (Adrian Lamo) who reported him to the authorities. Lamo and Manning became friends online, and Manning revealed that he was the source of the Wikileaks materials.

Lamo told the interviewer that he was faced with a dilemma: to betray a friend or keep his knowledge to himself. He says that (in effect) he put his country first, only reluctantly reporting that Manning had confessed to him that he was the source of the leaks.

Lamo said that he wanted to stop the leaks, but that Manning told him it was too late. It occurred to me that there was a third choice: to tell Manning that the leaking of secrets had to stop:if it continued, Lano would have to turn him in. I also think it likely that good detective work might have revealed Manning's involvement in time, anyway. Admittedly, this is speculation.

I continue to wonder at the folly of the army in allowing any junior soldier, let alone a clearly disgruntled one, to have access to secret documents. Manning had been reduced in rank from Specialist to Pfc., for allegedly punching a woman officer in the face, and had been informed that he was to be discharged. At that point, he should no longer have been allowed access to sensitive materials.

No-one comes out well in this story: not Manning, not Lano, not the army, including those who made him live in solitary confinement in harsh conditions, and not the politicians who allowed their anger at the leaks to cause them to mistreat Manning.

In my opinion, Manning should be brought to trial promptly, and his eventual sentence should take into account his cruel incarceration over the past year.

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