|Brave, Committed, Important, and|
As such, I like to think of the liberal media as much more "reality-based", willing to discuss issues in an honest and factual way, accepting that not all outcomes will be favorable and not all the people in my tribe will do the right thing 100% of the time. The fact that this biased behavior and disingenuous reporting is something we have come to accept from the right only makes it that much more cringe-worthy when I see it from the left.
Which brings us, sadly, to Bradley Manning. The liberal media, particularly the blogs, want to portray him simultaneously as some kind of innocent, unwitting dupe and as a great hero of American democracy. But, quite obviously, both are not, and cannot be, true. The demands to "Free Bradley Manning" are both silly and utterly hopeless - missing the whole point of the exercise while denying the most basic, salient facts of the case.
Let's start with a premise: Bradley Manning is a criminal. He broke the law, a law he was fully aware of, and chose willingly to violate. Indeed, if there was not the risk of prosecution involved, it would be impossible to portray any of his activities with Wikileaks as heroic. If the information was available in the public record, there would be nothing noteworthy about its publication. It is fair to say that his current situation is the very thing that allows him to be presented as a man of courage. It has always been a crime to release classified information, and in the course of the security clearance process this is made quite abundantly clear. It is important to remember that Daniel Elsberg was prosecuted for releasing the Pentagon Papers. The key difference between his case and Manning's is that Elsberg was a civilian and was therefore prosecuted in regular civilian court, and due to the government's dishonest and illegal acts (remember, this was in the time of Nixon) the case ended in a mistrial, with all charges dismissed.
As a member of the active duty military, Manning is rightly being prosecuted by a Court Martial under the UCMJ. You and I might find the way he has been treated in custody to be offensive and deeply un-democratic, but in the end there is very little likelihood that his conditions of incarceration will be dispositive in this case. On the other hand, people are absolutely correct to speak out on these matters. Both the nature of the charges and the matter of his gross mistreatment at the hands of military prosecutors are topics that should be discussed, and challenged. It is, once again, a case of the decline of American values at the hands of the very American system that was charged with preserving those values.
But that's where the purveyors of opinion should stop. Manning is going to prison - he committed a crime and he understood the potential consequences. It is not a matter of "Free Bradley Manning" - there is simply no mechanism for that. It's time to stop acting as if prosecuting him for the crimes he committed is, itself, some kind of crime or injustice.