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Like it or Not, Bradley Manning is a Traitor — Not a Hero

I don’t expect a giant “liberal embrace” for my opinion on Mr. Manning, and that’s okay.  I’ve never been one to change my opinion to pander to anyone.   Especially on an individual who betrays his country.

And that’s exactly what he did.

His supporters always seem to have tunnel vision when it comes to his actions.  They’ll read an article here or there about some of the atrocities that were revealed in the information he leaked (during a time of war), and because of those atrocities they believe his actions suddenly become that of a hero, not a traitor.

These people quickly display how easy it is for all of us at times to fail to see the bigger picture.

This isn’t a case of the government prosecuting a whistleblower, because every member of the military is subjected to a completely different set of rules than ordinary citizens.  What Manning did was violate his oath to the United States military.  He broke the chain of command—one of the most vital structures in our military.

Imagine for a moment if breaking the chain of command in the military became acceptable.  Suddenly, it was allowed for subordinates to question their superiors and act independently of their unit.

It would be complete chaos.

Don’t kid yourself, Bradley Manning isn’t a hero.  He obviously suffers from some serious emotional issues.  He seems to struggle with his gender, his sexuality, his parents divorce and from most accounts of those who knew him, he never seemed to fit in with anyone.

And while I sympathize with his struggles, that doesn’t excuse his actions.  I think that’s something some of his supporters seem to confuse.  They read the story about a bullied gay man, who struggled with acceptance in society (and the military) and empathize with his life story.  And while I’m an avid supporter of LGBT rights, that doesn’t impact my views on why I oppose his actions.

Bradley Manning was a gay American (at a time when being openly gay wasn’t allowed in the military), struggling with his gender, emotionally unstable, opposed to the war we were fighting—who volunteered to join the United States Army.

Keyword: Volunteered.

Nobody made him join.  At the time he knew being openly gay wasn’t allowed in the military and we were still at war.  If he struggled with being gay as an ordinary civilian, and opposed the wars with which we were engaged, what in the world was he doing joining the United States Army?

The bottom line is, this guy should have never been in the military.

The real controversy in all of this should be how exactly did such a emotionally unstable individual not only get accepted into the Army, but how did they get deployed to war and gain access to such sensitive classified material? But that’s a story for another day.

Upon entering the Army, almost immediately, there are accounts of Bradley Manning’s conflicts with drill sergeants and his near discharge before even completing basic training.  While deployed in Iraq he lacked discipline, seemed to be looking for ways to get kicked out and often was subjected to disciplinary action for his behavior.

Have many of his supporters read some of the transcripts of his conversations with Adrian Lamo?  When I say Manning has serious emotional issues, it’s not an exaggeration or any kind of personal attack.  In one of the transcripts with Mr. Lamo,  Manning states that he didn’t mind being put in jail for the rest of his life, or being executed, he just worried about “his picture being plastered all over the World Press—as a boy.”

He seemingly wasn’t aware of the consequences that his actions might have on others — instead, one of his main concerns was that the world would see him in the press as a male, not a female, which he felt deep down he really was.

Here’s a piece of the transcript:

(1:11:54 PM) bradass87: and … its important that it gets out … i feel, for some bizarre reason

(1:12:02 PM) bradass87: it might actually change something

(1:13:10 PM) bradass87: i just … dont wish to be a part of it … at least not now … im not ready … i wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much, if it wasn’t for the possibility of having pictures of me … plastered all over the world press … as a boy

(1:14:11 PM) bradass87: i’ve totally lost my mind … i make no sense … the CPU is not made for this motherboard

(1:39:03 PM) bradass87: i cant believe what im confessing to you :’(

I don’t bring this up to attack Mr. Manning, I only point out the selfish worry he seemed to have about how people may see him gender-wise in the press rather than his own death, the possibility of life in prison or the potential ramifications of his choices on others.  This is not the talk of any kind of “patriot,” it’s the talk of someone battling with emotional instability.

Again, Manning wasn’t thinking about the consequences of his actions.  He wasn’t trying to be a hero.  What he was doing was looking for anyone to connect with.  He had confessed to feeling isolated and alone in the Army (as he had often throughout his life).  He didn’t feel like he fit in and seemed to hold great animosity towards the United States military and many of those he served along side with.

He wasn’t someone that had years of knowledge within the intelligence community, who carefully leaked specific and vital information to the media, hoping to expose some wrong doings by our government.  He was an angry individual, looking for some kind of validation in his life, that did an information dump of hundreds of thousands of pieces of classified information recklessly—because he could.

Looking at how much information he leaked out, there’s no way he really knew about everything he was releasing.  He basically grabbed as much as he could, as quickly as he could.

At the time, he had no way to know the ramifications of what could happen once this information was exposed, because he had no way of knowing what every piece of information he leaked contained.  It’s a “what if” question most of his supporters won’t answer:

What if you had a loved one serving in the military, and the classified information he recklessly leaked out brought about a response from our enemies that resulted in your loved ones death?

It’s easy to dismiss this “what if” question because anyone can play that game with almost any scenario in life.  But most who dismiss the question simply don’t want to answer it because they know their feelings about Mr. Manning would change.

Seeing the pieces of information he exposed, it’s easy to hold him up as a hero because some of it was horrific, and controversial, behavior by our government.  But those that do so ignore the dangers of someone in our military, with access to classified information, during a time of war, deployed to war, leaking information that could compromise the lives of our brave men and women serving overseas.

I’m sorry, I just don’t have sympathy for someone who does that.

His supporters sympathize with someone who they view as a “hero” for exposing some wrongdoings during a time of war.  What they seem to fail to understand are the inherent dangers of someone within our military, trusted with classified information, leaking that information out and possibly risking the lives of deployed men and women.

Bradley Manning didn’t release this information to be a hero.  He didn’t release the information to see “the truth come out.”  He released this information because he seemed to be seeking validation, not justice, in a life that he never felt comfortable in.

He felt isolated, alone, and was approaching a psychological level of mental breakdown according to published transcripts and military records.

I do feel bad for the guy because he’s obviously struggled through life.  From reading comments by people who’ve known him, it seems that he never felt accepted by society, struggled to accept himself and never quite seemed to fit in anywhere.  What our “norms of society” can drive certain people to do is often tragic.

But the moment he voluntarily swore an oath to our United States military, then broke that oath by leaking classified information that could have risked the lives of our brave military men and women—he became a traitor.

And I’m sorry, but that’s where Bradley Manning lost my sympathy.

About Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has a degree in Political Science. He is a co-founder of Forward Progressives, and author of the popular Right Off A Cliff column. He is also the founder of the Right Off A Cliff facebook page, on which he routinely voices his opinions and stirs the pot for the Progressive movement. Follow Allen on Twitter as well, @Allen_Clifton.

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  • angryspittle

    How can anyone who fulfilled his oath that he took when inducted be considered a fucking traitor? He had an obligation to report criminal actions. He is a hell of a lot more honorable than the assholes who sent him there on lies. They are the bastards who belong in jail.

  • angryspittle

    Something is seriously wrong when the ones who expose the crimes go to jail and the criminals responsible for those crimes walk free.

  • Ernest Humperdinck

    He did far more damage than any good, I used to think he did right but it damaged the support for the troops more than influence a change on foreign policy. Snowden was another thing and don’t have much to say about him, but Manning did the most damage for the military and the military is my concern. If he wanted a change he should have been an activist at the grass roots after service. He was ignorant for what he did and now is paying the price