Bradley Manning and Our Real Secrecy Problem

Ideas

Is he a traitor or a hero? This is the question surrounding Bradley Manning, the army private currently being court-martialed at Fort Meade for aiding the enemy by wrongfully causing defense information to published on the Internet. But among the questions arising out of his case, it is also the least important.

At his trial this week, Manning will be portrayed by the prosecution as a conniving turncoat who knowingly endangered fellow soldiers by giving sensitive information to al Qaeda via WikiLeaks. The defense will tell of an idealistic young man who was troubled by troubling things, like the Orwellian nightmare of prisoners at Guantanamo and the cheapness of life in war torn Iraq. What will not be discussed—because the judge has forbidden the defense from touching the subject— is that Bradley Manning is as much a product of historical forces as an agent in them, that we have stumbled into…

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