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Whistleblowing For Fun & Profit: Bradley Manning Will Enjoy Neither

Topics: Lifestyle & Culture | Add A CommentBy admin | December 11, 2010

As George Bernard Shaw pointed out, you should never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. To get the truth out these days, it seems like everyone involved has to be the kind of person you wouldn’t want dating your sister.

We’re probably all getting a little WikiWeary, with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange dominating the news cycle for the last few weeks. Which is probably a good thing, because as Assange gets all the credit for exposing the corruption of governments worldwide, and hacktivists around the world rise to defend him, the guy who REALLY exposed the corruption is rotting in jail, largely forgotten. So what about Private First Class Bradley Manning? Is he a hero? A traitor? In the increasingly less-nuanced views of our time, there seems to be little middle ground on this topic. My personal views are mixed. I have a pretty strong sense of honor, and this man was a soldier. In my eyes, his method of releasing classified information clearly violated the guidelines of his command structure. But on the other hand, his command structure has violated its own sense of honor, from the Abu Ghraib scandal to the Collateral Murder video that was the first of Manning’s leaks to be released. And frankly, the fact that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld intentionally blew the cover of Abu Ghraib whistleblower Joe Darby doesn’t bode well for the US Military’s Whistleblower Program. Historically of course, doing the right thing has to be its own reward. Although Daniel Ellsberg is regarded as a hero of sorts for the Pentagon Papers, you’ve probably entirely forgotten Jeffrey Wigand of the Brown & Williamson ‘impact boosting’ scandal that cost the tobacco industry billions in headaches. And although there’s a good chance you know Karen Silkwood’s name, she probably died for her efforts. And I personally had never even heard of Wendell Potter, the former insurance industry executive who exposed many of the industry’s deceptive practices, and has recently come out in defense of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, asserting that the private sector attacks on WikiLeaks set a scary precedent. Things look a little dismal all around for truth; sadly, the president that campaigned on transparency in government is being even harder on whistleblowers than the Bush administration. So no, there’s probably not much glory awaiting Bradley Manning, unless they’re stupid enough to martyr him with execution, as many are suggesting. And the rat that ratted out Manning? If you have the time, Glenn Greenwald has a lengthy piece on Salon trying to sort out the convoluted trail of Adrian Lamo, the convicted hacker turned government informant in whom Manning confided. Lamo has a pretty sordid history himself, and when you read about how he works, and his recent push for a heavier hand with WikiLeaks, you get a strong sense that he blew Manning’s cover more out of self-interested ass-covering than out of some sense of reluctantly doing what was right, as he typically tries to play it all off. So the next time you’re thinking about blowing open that international scandal at work, make sure you sell out properly and get your millions. Basic honesty seems to lead to jail. Or death. And as Adrian Lamo shows us, your reward will have less to do with human decency than your desire to profit.