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Glenn Greenwald on Bradley Manning

…Americans love to cheer for the Arab Spring rebellions — look at those inspiring people standing up to their evil dictators and demanding freedom — yet the American government officials who propped up those dictators for decades and helped suppress those revolts, including the ones currently in power, are treated as dignified statesmen, while a person who actually exposed those tyrants and played at least some role in triggering those inspiring revolts (Manning) rots in a prison after enduring 10 months of deeply inhumane treatment.

There’s no doubt that it’s illegal for a member of the military to leak classified or secret documents — just as there was no doubt about the illegality of Daniel Ellsberg’s leaks, or a whole slew of other acts of civil disobedience we consider noble.  The fact that an act is legal does not mean it is just, and conversely, that an act is illegal does not mean it is unjust.  Many people enjoy hearing themselves condemn the acts of tyrants and imperial forces in the world. If the allegations against him are true, Bradley Manning knowingly risked his liberty to take action against those acts, in the hope of exposing those responsible and triggering worldwide reforms.  It’s hard to dispute that these leaks achieved exactly that, but even if they hadn’t, his conduct is profoundly commendable, and the world needs far more, not fewer, Bradley Mannings.

Glenn Greenwald


6 thoughts on “Glenn Greenwald on Bradley Manning”

  1. This is something that I delved into recently in a discussion for one of my college courses. We were discussing the ethics of a certain situation and the author of our text stated that one of the first tests would be whether or not the act was legal. Sadly, most of my classmates fell for this tripe. Laws are unethical in nature and can’t be used as any kind of measure of whether or not actions are ethical.


  2. As we cheer on hopes of democracy and human rights elsewhere, we must remember also to protect them here at home. Many civil liberties have weakened over the past decade, which should trouble any genuine patriot.


    1. Unfortunately, Ahab, the trend seems still headed in the wrong direction. For instance, the President now claims a right to kill American citizens without a trial and without due process if he suspects them of terrorism. Anwar Awlaki being the main case in point.


  3. It is absolutely true that not all things that are legal are just, and not all things that are illegal are unjust. I think I could possibly write a book about that, but the task might drag me down into an emotional depression.


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