Bradley Manning: Hero or Criminal?
Imagine you saw something that troubled you deeply, but few others were aware of it. You have a unique ability to expose this wrongdoing to the public. But what if that meant releasing closely-guarded secrets, and you could be seen as betraying your country? What would you do? In 2010, US Army Private Bradley Manning released around 700,000 government documents to the website WikiLeaks. Manning pled guilty to charges that could bring up to 20 years in prison, but on June 3rd trial began on further charges. The military continued with court martial charges, some with a possible life sentence. Manning, a military analyst in Iraq, was troubled by what he witnessed and how he perceived the military to value human life. He downloaded the documents onto CDs, then tried to contact established news organizations, but got no response, so he went to WikiLeaks. The military says Manning dropped sensitive information “into the hands of the enemy,” and that Osama bin Laden even obtained some of it. His lawyers counter that he was “naive but good intentioned,” and that he was selective in choosing documents to reveal. Manning was recently found not guilty on the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, but his trial and treatment by the US military persist as a global subject of debate. Manning is a controversial figure worldwide. Some see him as a courageous whistleblower, while others maintain that exposing state secrets is a grave security threat. As you read through the perspectives, consider this: Was Bradley Manning right or wrong to expose US military documents?