I’m on the record as not having been impressed with Bradley Manning for turning over thousands of classified diplomatic messages to Wikileaks:
Then, of course, there’s the anonymous asshole who was trusted with access to all this stuff and decided to leak it. Leaking this stuff might have been justified if it contained the shocking truth behind the Kennedy assassination, or proof that 9/11 really was an inside job, or the alien autopsy video, but most of this stuff is routine diplomatic traffic.
Look, whoever you are, you took an oath to keep this stuff secret. People trusted you. Then you broke your oath and leaked it anyway. That ain’t cool.
(At the time, Manning had been mentioned as a suspect, but it wasn’t clear to me that he was the source of the Wikileaks material, so I didn’t use his name.)
To the best of my knowledge — which isn’t very great — there’s still nothing that Manning gave to Wikileaks that justifies his breach of trust. The leaked messages revealed a lot of details about our foreign policy, and about what our diplomats thought of other country’s rulers, but little of it seemed directly relevant to how we Americans live our lives. (Since I haven’t been following the story very closely, however, I’m willing to have my mind changed about that, and it wouldn’t take anything as outrageous as my hyperbolic examples.)
Of course, even if his disclosures were unjustified, he still doesn’t deserve the atrocious treatment he was reportedly subject to, especially since most of it took place while he was still innocent until proven guilty. But that’s another story…
Edward Snowden took an oath too, and he broke it as well, but my initial impression is that he did it for a justifiable reason. It appears the government has been spying on us far more than we thought, and even if it all does turn out to be “legal,” it’s still something that affects us all. We have a need to know.
Heck, this could be something that affects me. Just of the top of my head, I’m friends on Facebook with Mirriam Seddiq, and I follow her on Twitter. Given that she’s an immigrant from Afghanistan and an immigration lawyer, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she’s brushed up against somebody the NSA has taken a look at. And Snowden was claiming that PRISM looked at friends of friends of targets…