I’m sure everyone has an opinion regarding those people who leak government secrets. Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning are the latest. We held Manning for three years without charge while he was kept in a small cell, most of the time he was naked, the lights were on 24/7 and he was provided no blankets. This “torture” was for his own safety.
Manning leaked a video to Assange who then posted it on Wikileaks. The government said that the video put American lives at risk. I provided a link to the video so you may see our national security being compromised. The two murdered men which the video highlights are Reuters News Services photographers each carrying cameras. After the massacre, a van pulls up to help the wounded. In the van was a father who was bringing his two children to school or to visit a relative. While driving by, he saw one of the wounded men and stopped to help him. No good deed goes unpunished. The video is located here:
You can read about the video here:
Manning is just now, three years later, being formally charged for treason because he leaked that video. There are legal avenues to blow the whistle on the government but, there is no way the government would release this video on its own merit had Manning even pursued those avenues.
The soldiers’ demeanor in the video raises other issues. There are many people who harshly judged them although no charges or punishment was lodged against them. I admit I wouldn’t want any of them as neighbors but this sort of activity and behavior is what they are trained to do. They are trained, rewarded and some would even go so far as to say “brainwashed,” into taking joy in what they do: Killing. The alternative is PTSD or not being able to do their job when it most counts. They are like police dogs who are trained to attack. Police dogs are not being vicious, they are having fun when they attack, it is mostly play for them. That’s how they are trained. That is why they are effective at fighting crime. If a dog didn’t like what he was doing, he probably wouldn’t do it, at least not effectively.
Military training is one reason why there are so many unemployed veterans. Employers know the type of training military soldiers go through and don’t want to take a chance on one of them going “postal.” An interesting movie on the topic is “Jack Reacher.” It is about a military homicide investigator who digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims because he was trained to kill and was never afforded the opportunity to do it.
The other bane veterans have lurking in their corner is that many of them entered the military fresh out of high school and despite having some of the best training in the world, they don’t have college degrees. So a nurse, trained in battlefield triage, who has amputated limbs, stitched gaping wounds, stabilized traumatized bodies, set broken bones and even performed her job while under enemy fire, is not qualified to take your child’s temperature in your local school. Given the rise in school shooting incidents, I think I’d rather have her at my school than someone with text book training in boo-boo management.
So, Manning, Assange, Snowden – are they patriots like so many of our national heroes who came before them by doing much the same and made this country what it is today or are they enemies of the state? Sure, Snowden just informed every terrorist in the world that we are reading their emails and listening in on their phone calls (like we didn’t know this ten years ago when Bush signed the Patriot Act) but don’t you think that that too is a deterrent? How many armchair terrorists have second thoughts because they now realize that trying to pull something off is too risky or difficult with the government listening in on their calls?
We were warned after the Tsarnaev brothers pulled off the Boston bombings that there would be copycat bombings. Well, after learning that there is a camera on every corner, in many cars, in every shirt pocket, in most stores, how many would-be-bombers decided not to do anything because they now know they can’t pull it off? I don’t think Snowden put as many American lives at risk as we think. He may have actually saved some.
Isn’t that the reason our country criminalizes honesty? If someone admits to completing a crime we send them to prison. Not because they are necessarily a threat to society, but the punishment is designed to serve as a warning to others not to commit the same crime. In reality, if someone has designs to commit a crime, they’re going to do it anyway because they are not thinking of the consequences, they are thinking about the immediate payoff. They all think they can get away with it, that’s why they do it and that is why deterrence sentencing doesn’t work.
Reading peoples’ emails, Facebook accounts and cell phone records is a good way to stop crime as it is happening. Knowing that the government is reading emails, Facebook accounts and cell phone records can also deter crime so it doesn’t happen. Knowing there are cameras in stores prevents shoplifting although, everyone knows that most store theft occurs by the employees in the back rooms. You know – the people who passed the background and drug checks.
I’m not sure how I feel about entrapment. Should we turn the lights out and leave our doors unlocked so we can entrap criminals and burglars or should we warn them that there is a pit bull inside and and out of fear, they don’t do the crime in the first place? Currently the government is the biggest distributor of child pornography. They distribute it so they can catch people downloading it. If the government didn’t distribute it, would the criminals exist? Is it a wise investment to spend $30,000 per year to incarcerate someone who would otherwise be a taxpayer had we not entrapped him? We then put them on the sex offender registry where they will be unemployable and a drain on the largess of the social service department. Although, the new Farm Bill denies people convicted of violent crimes, such as downloading child pornography, of food stamps and other benefits afforded to people who can’t find jobs or housing.
Contrary to what everyone opines, Manning, Assange and Snowden were not thinking about an immediate payoff, fame or fortune, they were thinking about the consequences and the actions by our government. They knew they were sacrificing everything for what they thought to be the greater good: Knowledge and transparency.
One thing these patriots/whistleblowers/traitors/snitches do reveal to us is why so many other countries in the world view America as the terrorists.