Thursday, August 22, 2013
Good morning to all:
Bradley Manning was sentenced yesterday to 35 years in prison for disclosing information that embarrassed the United States government and its military. I believe the sentence is an abomination and yet another injury to our nation’s reputation as the defender of liberty and democracy.
We know people by what they do rather than by what they say. Our Founding Fathers knew that meaningful liberty and democracy cannot exist, if the governed are prohibited from knowing what the government and its military are doing. They designed the First Amendment to protect our rights to liberty and democracy by the Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, and Freedom of Assembly Clauses in the First Amendment.
The First Amendment provides:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
We were lied into a war in Iraq when we were told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and he was providing succor to Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda.
The War in Iraq has caused incalculable death, damage and suffering to the people of Iraq and to our men and women who served and continue to serve there. The killing continues in Iraq as opposing religious factions kill each other in an effort to settle grievances and gain control of the government.
We cannot undue the harm but we can and must do everything possible to prevent our government and military from repeating the errors of the past.
Bradley Manning is a genuine American hero and patriot because when he discovered what was being done in our names in Iraq, he realized that we needed to know the truth. He could have chosen to do nothing. That would have been the easy choice. He could have decided not to release the documents because they were classified as secret. Instead, he realized that he had a moral responsibility that compelled him to release the documents, despite the risk of harm to himself. He attempted to minimize that risk by releasing the documents anonymously to Wikileaks, but that did not work out.
Now that we know the truth, we have the moral responsibility to do something with the information to assure that our government and its military never repeats the errors of the past. No amount of self-deceit can eliminate that responsibility.
We are learning an important lesson about democracy and the lesson is that the right to choose our leaders means that we are responsible for what they do in our names.
Because of that heavy responsibility, we have a duty to get informed and remain informed about our government and what it is doing.
The First Amendment acknowledges that we have a right to know what our government and its military are doing by prohibiting Congress from restricting the freedom of the press to publish information and our freedom to speak about that information and assemble with others to discuss it and “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Glenn Greenwald knows that responsibility and takes it seriously.
No one who knew what they were talking about ever said that democracy was easy.