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Bradley Manning Is My Second Cousin

July 26, 2013



A military court found Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history, not guilty of aiding the enemy. The verdict from the judge overseeing Manning’s court-martial means he dodged a life sentence. He has already pleaded guilty to nearly a dozen lesser charges that could carry a sentence of up to 20 years behind bars.

Not many are aware of the fact Bradley Manning is my second cousin.  He was even at one of our family reunions many years agoI have followed the legal events play out over what must seem like a life-time for this young man, and wondered many times how he came to be in such a place.  I have questioned how his parents did not see that a very slender and gay kid should not ever enter the military, and so wonder all sorts of things that date back far longer than the current military courtroom that Manning now finds himself.

I have never taken a position on my blog about Manning, but did write when Wikileaks first started, and without knowing Manning was at the center of it, that “it is imperative that candid assessments of political leaders and political movements in other countries not be open to the general public in this manner.”

And I still believe that to be true.

Governments have secrets, and should have the ability to secure those it deems important.   I also think the public has a right to know what their government is doing.

In saying both of those things does not make one inconsistent, but demonstrates the continual argument that everyone can have about what is really classified material that can undermine national security or the broader goals of our government, and what is worthy of being known by the electorate.  There are no easy answers, and the latest NSA controversy only deepens the debate, and the tangled options.

I will probably never know with any degree of certainty what motivated Manning to take the steps he did.   I am not sure if he thought there was a higher imperative by undertaking the release of the classified material, or if this was some effort to heighten himself in the eyes of others.

It is a sad day for this young man who most likely will be imprisoned for the remainder of his life.  I am heartened that the death penalty was rejected, and hope that at some level Manning can find peace.

One Comment
  1. Kendra permalink
    August 19, 2017 6:48 PM

    I had no idea about this family connection! How interesting and I suspect if and when you meet the conversation will be worthy of a blog post.

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