Bradley Manning and doing the right thing.

Was Bradley Manning right? Was he justified in passing to Wikileaks classified files showing what American foreign policy was really up to? Many if not most of us would be tempted to respond with a firm ‘Yes’. But if we were American would we be as firm in our approval of the US soldier? He’s been acquitted of the charge that he leaked files that helped Osama Bin Laden hatch plots against the US, but he’s seen as having done so much other damage to his country, he could face the rest of his life in prison. 
On a smaller scale, we get the same situation here. Republicans are often urged to reveal to the authorities any information they may have about killings that occurred during the Troubles. (In passing it’s worth noting that we don’t hear the same emphatic calls for former members of the RUC or the UDR or the British army to blow the whistle on killings committed by their colleagues. )
In cases of suspected child sexual abuse, Catholic clergy are condemned for having remained silent rather than going to the authorities to report illegal and obscene crimes by their fellow-priests.  In all cases, the assumption is that the right thing to do is to support the authorities, the law of the land, and condemn those who fail to do so. 
That’s not how that thoughtful Englishman E M Forster saw things. “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend I hope I should have the guts to betray my country. Such a choice may scandalize the modern reader, and he may stretch out his patriotic hand to the telephone at once and ring up the police. It would not have shocked Dante,  though. Dante places Brutus and Cassius in the lowest circle of Hell because they had chosen to betray their friend Julius Caesar rather than their country Rome.”
I think, all things considered, I’m with Forster. Bradley Manning wasn’t choosing between his friend and his country but between the truth and his country – in some ways  an even harder decision to arrive at. I know one thing: if a son or daughter or brother or sister or spouse of mine were to have committed a serious crime – say, murder – and came to me for help, there’s not a cat’s chance in hell that I’d turn them in. That’d be a crime? Right. And your point is?

8 Responses to Bradley Manning and doing the right thing.

  1. Anonymous July 31, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    ‘He’s been acquitted of the charge that he leaked files that helped Osama Bin Laden hatch plots against the US, but he’s seen as having done so much other damage to his country, he could face the rest of his life in prison.’

    Those who believe that conflate treachery and treason with exposing the crimes of narrow elites. The aims of banksters and their bought and paid for politicians and media do not align, in any way, with ordinary ‘People’ who populate countries.

    It is not patriotism to hide from public scrutiny corporatism, gangsterism and profiteering under the guise of a war on terror.

    Private security contractors would know this information anyway as proved by Edward Snowden, leaving ‘We the People’ with governments blackmailed into ever tighter security, lest their misdeeds leaked out. He did ordinary people a favour; we know how corrupt the system is. This just underlines it.

    Is Bradley Manning a hero?

    Probably not, my guess is he found out something dangerous, had he not done what he did he would probably be quietly dead as Gary Webb is. So he did what he had to do for himself as people do. As it is, at least he will live, probably not his preferred life, but who gets that anyway?

    Did his actions expose anything new?

    Nope, we all know what these people are, ultimately we need to figure out how to kick the one per cent out of the decision making process. I think the next decade will see real upheaval because obscenely rich and selfish elites believe they have the right to rule without the responsibility that goes along with it.

    ‘Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.’ Honore de Balzac

    How many bankers are in jail for treason?

  2. Séamus July 31, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    What Manning did, he did for the truth and for his country. He did it for the America people, to show them the kinds of murderous crimes that were being committed in their name. That’s why the charge of aiding the enemy was so farcical, because the enemy of the US government in this instance was the American people.

  3. giordanobruno July 31, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    “there’s not a cat’s chance in hell that I’d turn them in.”
    You would be wrong not only legally but morally. Of course we would probably all do the same. It illustrates the evolutionary imperative of the selfish gene. We will protect our own kin first, then our own community, then our wider society and so on.

  4. Jude Collins July 31, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Gio – as so often, you’re half right. I know it would be illegal,but it would NOT be immoral for the very good reason that I would be following my conscience. No, sorry, not interested in what YOU’d do – I’m talking about what I’d do and I’d feel morally OK with that. You can call it a selfish gene if you like. I’d call it loving my family.

  5. Anonymous August 1, 2013 at 4:57 am #

    What if you saw your brother or sister stagger out of the house drunk and drive down the road with his kids in the car,would you call the cops?

  6. giordanobruno August 1, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    Interesting moral code you have there. How many bodies would you allow to pile up in the cellar before you would think it morally right to turn that family member in? Would 2 do it? 20? 100?

  7. Jude Collins August 1, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    gio – it’d depend on how many of the bodies were related to you and how closely

    Anon 05:57 – No, I’d shoot out his tyres.

    • giordanobruno August 1, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

      Well if it’s my relatives, work away.
      tá sé go maith , ach níl sé ceart,as Roy Walker would say.