The City of Berkeley in California is considering a resolution to declare alleged WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning a national hero. Many others however consider him a traitor and guilty of treason.
Supporters of the resolution believe Manning is a true American patriot, a whistleblower who deserves a medal. Similar statements have been made about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, with sources calling on the Nobel committee to give him the Nobel Peace prize.
Currently in an Army prison, Manning is accounted of using his accedes as an Army private to leak most of the significant US documents released by WikiLeaks. Thus far, a city commission has passed the resolution; on December 14th the city council will cast a final vote.
Is Manning a hero, a truth seeker opening the eyes of American or is he a traitor, a treasonous villain deserving of prosecution?
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK, a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement, argued that Manning exposed government lies and brought details to out public needed to see.
She explained that information released has brought to like information that could have stopped many of the abuses of the Iraq war.
“Having this information is making us more educated as a citizenry, able to make better decisions about how to get out of these wars and how to stop an unchecked foreign policy run amuck,” said Benjamin.
Blogger Michael Haltman from The Political Commentator said Manning leaked information that compromised the safety and national security of the United States.
He argued, “It’s not for the citizenry to be fully kept up-to-date on everything that the government is doing in terms of our national security, in terms of engaging in wars around the world.”
Americans simply do not need to know everything, Haltman explained. In the past, Americans were not aware of everything the government did, citing the date of the Normandy Invasion in World War II as an example for the need of secrecy in national security.
“The moves that our government needs to make in terms of fighting an enemy is not something that should be debated in public,” he added.
In years past, journalists used to do this kind of work. The media was responsible for keeping the government in check. Now they don’t, argued Benjamin, thus people like Manning have to step-up in order to get to truth out.
“I want to know!” said Benjamin. “We have a foreign policy run amuck. We have a State Department run amuck. I mean, they have turned diplomats into spies. That should not be what our foreign policy is about. It’s against the rules of the United Nations.”
“A citizenry does not have a right to know everything that the government is doing,” Haltman commented.
The leaks compromised US national security and released classified data the public does not need to know, he argued. These were secrets that should not have been leaked. They have negatively impacted our diplomatic relations, he contended.
Haltman claimed he believed in the freedom of the press, but that the people simply do not need to know everything.
“Berkeley, California is bringing a potential and likely traitor up and being placed on hero status,” he said. “To bring up a man that compromises [national security] is wrong.”
Benjamin stated, “We need sunshine to have a good democracy.”
David Gewirtz, the director of the US Strategic Perspective Institute argued that the messenger is the issue; a member of the US military has allegedly passed classified documents to a non-US citizen, Julian Assange.
“Someone stole property from a nation and gave it to a foreign agent. I’m sure had the tables been turned and Russia had its own Bradley Manning, they probably wouldn’t have been terribly thrilled if their proprietary confidential information, classified documents from their military, had been given to a foreign body as well,” he explained.
However, Jeff Paterson, a project director with Courage to Resist said he is excited that the City of Berkeley is taking up this cause, and that Manning is indeed a hero.
“WikiLeaks is fulfilling the role that the US media has fulfilled in the past, of mud-raking, fact finding, investigating journalism that is not afraid to upset the powers that be,” argued Paterson. “Supporter’s of Bradley Manning can’t wait for him to be convicted before we speak up. If we simply ignore this case until the military sentences him to life in prison, it’s too late for him. We need to show that if he is indeed the person who leaked these documents, and I actually assume he is the person based on what the government has shown. I don’t have any inside information to this case. If he is the person, he deserves our support.