Pfc. Bradley Manning recently was convicted of violating the Espionage Act for releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. Judge Denise Lind declared that Private Manning's conduct was "wanton and reckless." He is likely to be sentenced to decades in military prison for his crime ("Manning deserves at least 60 years, prosecutor says," Aug. 20).
I would use different adjectives to describe Mr. Manning's conduct: moral, ethical, patriotic and heroic. He released those documents because he was disgusted by the lies and hypocrisy put forth by our government. He sought to expose those lies, and by doing so, he helped to end the war in Iraq.
"Now, wait," you shout. "He released hundreds of thousands of documents. He was reckless!" Maybe so, but no more reckless than the National Security Agency which violated the rules meant to protect privacy of Americans over 2,700 times in 2012, according to The Sun. Mr. Manning had no intent to harm any American. His trial showed that the documents he released failed to provide any substantive aid to enemies of the United States. The NSA, on the other hand, has become an increasingly brazen entity that is tearing away the constitutionally protected privacy of Americans and doing God knows what else with its technology.
Meanwhile, what of the criminals from the "Collateral Murder" video released by Mr. Manning who wantonly massacred those civilians and journalists? It made me sick to my stomach to watch civilians desperately try to load a wounded man into a van only to be gunned down by a U.S. helicopter. Has the U.S. government prosecuted these crimes with such zeal and vigor as the Manning case? It is precisely these acts of disregard for human life that keep the cycles of terror going for decades.
But no, the government is more concerned with stopping people like Mr. Manning who dare to expose the truth to the public. So while we still have a First Amendment left in this nation, let me say this: Our government is not to be trusted. If it continues to jail heroes, like Mr. Manning and commit wanton acts of murder against civilians while eroding the privacy of Americans, the public should rise up and use all non-violent means necessary to replace this government with one that will respect American values and human rights.
Vincent Tola, BaltimoreCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun