After the Bradley Manning verdict was revealed, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, made an expected statement. His is a just cause, but in the case of Manning, he has the wrong position.
Hundreds of thousands around the world are fans of Assange and Manning. Freedom of information, and the protection of the right of privacy are on the minds of hundreds of thousands within the global community. After Bradley Manning exposed multiple transgressions in Iraq, Edward Snowden unveiled and extensive program called PRISM, which was designed to spy on every citizen of the United States. Assange, the world’s leading advocate of free speech and government transparency, has been supportive of both young men, and the causes for which they stand. Although his intent is commendable, his position on the Bradley verdict is wrong.
Assange called the verdict, ‘short-sighted and his whistle-blowing organization won’t rest until the verdict is overturned.’
Colonel Denise Lind found Manning guilty of 19 of 21 charges of passing secret military information on to WikiLeaks, but found him innocent of the most egregious charge of ‘aiding the enemy.’ Manning will most likely face many years in a federal prison.
Assange made a statement after the verdict was released. Speaking after the judgment Assange described Manning as “the most important journalistic source that the world has ever seen”.
The statements concerning the value of Manning’s disclosures are entirely accurate and portray a young man who was courageous, and a true patriot. As Assange stated, ‘he exposed war crimes, sparked revolutions, and induced democratic reform.’
Assange said about Manning: “He is the quintessential whistleblower,” Assange told a handful of reporters, including AAP, inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
He claimed the conviction set a precedent for the future of those who choose to expose government wrong doing.
“It is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism,” the 42-year-old said.
“It is a short-sighted judgment that cannot be tolerated and it must be reversed.”
Manning has two appeals available to him through the Military Code of Justice, and the Supreme Court.
“WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning’s support team will not rest until he is free.
“There was only ever one just outcome from this trial and that was an acquittal.”
Assange said the aiding the enemy charge against Manning was only ever included “to make calling journalism `espionage’ sound reasonable – but it is not”.
Julian Assange is an Australian. Although I admire his fervor and dedication to both the cause of his organization and for the future of Bradley Manning, his lack of information and understanding of the laws of the United States are obvious.
In no possible way is Manning un-patriotic, nor is he seeking damage against the United States. He is a courageous young man who became a hero because he was aware of the certainty of prosecution and eventual punishment he would receive.
From the President of the United States to the lowliest of federal employees, an oath of office is administered. It’s a serious oath, and one that must be respected. Choosing to break that oath will, and must, have consequences. Heroes are not those who have the advantage of legal recourse on their side, or those who make millions of dollars playing a child’s game, they are the individuals who decide to ‘do the right thing’ regardless of personal difficulty and possible loss of freedom in their future.
Julian Assange is fighting the just fight, for the right cause, but he has taken the wrong position regarding Manning’s courage and resolve.
Alfred James reporting