Courageous, honest folk
need to expose government
wrongdoing from the inside
Pfc. Bradley Manning, sentenced this morning. Click image to enlarge.
Click image to enlarge.
IT IS A SAD DAY in America: the Statue of Liberty on Staten Island has a tear in her eye.
Not only is it a tragic day for Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was sentenced this morning to spend 35 years of his young life in prison, but it is also gloomy for everyone who believes in the free flow of information about what our government is doing FOR us and TO us.
One of Manning’s most ardent supporters throughout his ordeal has been Daniel Ellsberg, revered for his role in leaking The Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and Washington Post in 1971.
(Watch the amazing video “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” in which Ellsberg tells his own story, below the fold).
That leak is credited with changing the course of history. Ellsberg, today, is regarded as a hero by many.
Perhaps history will also be kind to Bradley Manning. The U.S. government certainly has not been.
MANNING HAS PAID a high price for whistleblowing. But he is not the only one.
As Dana Milbank wrote in The Washington Post (now owned by Jeff Bezos) on Tuesday, the Obama administration’s record on prosecuting those who would hold the government to account is abysmal.
Dana Milbank’s article in Tuesday’s Washington Post about the costs of whistleblowing. Click image to enlarge.
In The price Gina Gray paid for whistleblowing Milbank reported:
“Obama came into office pledging transparency and professing admiration for government workers who expose abuses.
“But his administration has pursued more cases under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined (including the prosecution of National Security Agency workers who tried to register their objections through “proper” channels).
“And the alleged intimidation of would-be whistleblowers goes beyond those involved in sensitive intelligence…
“If the Obama administration wants whistleblowers to take the “proper” route, it needs to protect them when they do.”
Protection for whistleblowers? Whoever heard of such a noble proposition?
In truth, it is the law of the land.
The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, public law No. 101-12, is a federal law that protects federal whistleblowers who work for the government and report agency misconduct.
IT CERTAINLY WAS NOT the law when Ellsberg single-handedly changed the course of the Vietnam War – and the country.
Daniel Ellsberg, hero of The Pentagon Papers case in 1971. Click image to enlarge.
The publication of the data in the Pentagon Papers was widely credited – at the time and still today – with changing public opinion in America, which had until then been sharply divided. Suddenly, a majority wanted out of the morass in Southeast Asia.
Because of Ellsberg, President Richard Nixon was reelected in 1972 only because he promised “peace in our time.”
Listen to Ellsberg’s story, in his own words. These are the first we hear in “The Most Dangerous Man in America:”
“It was the evening of October 1, 1969 when I first smuggled several hundred pages of top-secret documents out of my safe at the Rand Corporation (in Santa Monica, Calif.)
“The study contained 47 volumes, 7,000 pages.
“My plan was to Xerox the study and reveal the secret history of the Vietnam War to the American people.”
What follows is a dramatic account of how it took Ellsberg more than six months, each evening, taking stacks of paperwork (there were no word processors or email then, remember) from his office to his home in Malibu, Calif.
There, sometimes assisted by his children, he manually fed each page through one of those ancient copying machines – no high-speed whiz-bang duplicators like we have today.
It was clearly an ultimate act of patriotism for a man who started out as war supporter, to discover his conscience and at such personal risk reveal data that helped end the senseless violence.
Private Manning, 25, will be credited for the three and a half years he has already spent in custody, reported Emmarie Huetteman in The New York Times on Tuesday.
However, “there is no minimum sentence. The judge, Col. Denise R. Lind, convicted him in July of most of the charges , including six counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917.”
Manning’s sentence will automatically be sent to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, unless he unexpectedly decides to waive that right.
“Prosecutors have made it clear that their intention was not only to punish Private Manning but also to discourage others from leaking information.”
Let us hope they fail.
We would be less well off as a nation if the press is no longer able to expose government wrongdoing at every level, and to do so, it needs courageous, honest people on the inside willing to risk it all in the name of patriotism.
Thank you, Bradley Manning.
Watch the video below
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