Bradley Manning, who has never actually been convicted of anything, is being punished for one crime, and one crime alone: Embarrassing the United States government. He has exposed the criminal activities of the U.S. government — including war crimes by American troops — as well as criminal activities by foreign governments in collusion with the U.S. What’s more, he’s created a demonstration effect by showing others how easy it is to do it, and forced government officials to work under the threat of exposure. Murdering civilians and pimping little boys to Afghan police officials is small potatoes. But embarrassing the U.S. government? For this Manning must die.
Bradley Manning, directly and indirectly, has probably done more for freedom than any single human being in years.
His exposure of war crimes by U.S. forces in Iraq, and his exposure of how the sausage of U.S. foreign policy is made, benefit freedom in their own right insofar as they undermine — to whatever extent — the global and domestic credibility of the United States government.
But more importantly, the cables Manning leaked — which were published on Wikileaks — played a central role in triggering the so-called Twitter revolution that started in Tunisia, spread to Egypt and much of the Middle East, and is now striking Qaddafi with hurricane-force winds of freedom. Among the cables which Wikileaks published were detailed descriptions of the Tunisian regime’s corruption, which galvanized local dissident groups into launching the movement that overthrew the government.