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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Open discussion -- PFC Manning

Imagine for just a minute that you're 22 year old PFC Bradley Manning, a patriotic soldier doing your job and minding your own business, when one day the worst possible moral and patriotic dilemma falls in your lap.  You're working as an intel analyst when you see part or all of what's become known as the Collateral Murder footage, where it certainly appears that an Apache helicopter is firing on unarmed people trying to keep from being shot at.   So for the sake of this discussion, let's assume it is what it appears to be.
If you're unfamiliar with this issue, here's some background from the PBS show Need To Know that includes a videotape of the incident.
Now I could care less about the website Wikileaks or its founder, Julian Assange.  My concern is that the issue easily gets sidetracked when you talk about Wikileaks because, the Collateral Murder tape aside, most of us would agree we don't agree with their methods and their choices.
But just from a purely patriotic and moral standpoint, how do you feel about the fact that Manning released a sensitive US military "document" that plainly puts the US in a bad light? 
Is it that simple...thou shalt never release anything, no matter the circumstances, at any time?   No.
Is it worse because he was an active duty soldier as opposed to a civilian?  I don't think so.  You don't have to obey an unlawful order, for example.  The issue is certainly complicated by the fact that this whistle blowing incident takes place during wartime, where doing the right thing can often also be doing the wrong thing.  Yes, both at the same time in my opinion.
This is where I fall on this if I were to put myself in his shoes.  I know if I go against my government and cause this material to become public, I'm going to go to jail for a long time and rightfully so.  No matter the cause, I'm breaking the wartime laws of my country that I've sworn to uphold.  But I'd do it anyway.  The releasing of that material is detrimental to our country but the incident in and of itself is detrimental to this country and the ramifications of not coming clean (YET AGAIN) in these kinds of incidents is much worse. 
I can envision instances where during wartime I could witness a murder and still know that the right thing is to keep it a secret.  This isn't one of those instances.


deb said...

I agree. I think your obligation to humanity is higher than your obligation to your country.

R.J. said...

I'm with both of you on this one. Humanity above country if it means doing the right thing.

Zebster said...

I think it's the right thing to do for the country as well, look at Abu Ghraib as just one example.

Brent said...

Having experience as an intel analyst, he took the moral and ethical high ground. About 98% of us wouldn't have done it. I know that I wouldn't have done it while I was in the military.

PFC Manning will go to jail for releasing the videotape, of that I have no doubt. And that in and of itself is a crime against humanity. While he will serve a penalty for his actions, PFC Manning is a true American hero.