I was saddened and disturbed by reader Edward McDonnell's letter about convicted Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning ("Manning jailed while Iraq war's instigators go free, Aug. 26).

While I agree it was unfortunate that the U.S. went to war by invading Iraq during President George W. Bush's term, it is important that the world knows the full story regarding this encounter.

The answer appears to lie in an earlier announcement made by our intelligence agencies that they believed Iraq was manufacturing and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction; and because of the apparent instability of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein the U.S. decided to attack Iraq in order to eliminate what we considered to be a highly threatening obstruction.

After attacking, the U.S. soon discovered that the assumption it had made was not true, which was indeed a tremendous embarrassment, and a horrendous, bloody war ensued. Even though the U.S. won, it cost us dearly — more than 4,000 dead, some 30,000 wounded and $1 trillion.

It was hoped that after Saddam Hussein was eliminated Iraq would soon become the first Arab democracy. But, sadly, all havoc broke out in Iraq after our military was withdrawn at the end of 2011 by President Obama in what was obviously a political maneuver by him to appease the people back home as he prepared for the 2012 elections.

Iraq quickly became a battleground for civil strife among the Shiite, Sunni and other religious and ethnic sects, as well as a target for infiltration by terrorist groups led by al-Qaeda and Iranian undercover agents.

The loss of a strong Iraq also prevented the U.S. from being able to come to the rescue of four of our government individuals stationed in Benghazi, Libya, when they came under severe pressure from radicals that eventually cost them their lives along with our prestige in the Arab world.

Quinton D. Thompson, Towson