Today, a verdict was reached in the trial of Bradley Manning. The Private, who was tried for a plethora of charges, was found not guilty of the biggest charge, aiding the enemy. While being found guilty on most other charges, this ruling cleared Bradley Manning of facing life in prison, but he still could get over 130 years from the charges he was convicted of. While the sentencing phase of the trial begins tomorrow, the verdict has people on both sides talking.
One camp, those who support Manning are joyous over the verdict, but they still have hesitation that Manning was convicted of the other charges. Meanwhile, the other camp believes that Manning is a traitor who did not get his just desserts. No matter what, I think that this trial has had many Americans asking serious questions, and it has created an important dialogue.
One of those questions is how much power the government has in keeping confidential information versus how much the citizens of the United States have the right to know. I, for one, believe there is a balancing act that has to be done, and it is important that U.S. citizens are factored into this balancing act. For instance, the fact that drones and phone taps are being used on U.S. citizens, as revealed by Edward Snowden, is something that we Americans have the right to know, but when it comes to information that could potentially aid our enemies, I believe that the government should be able to keep these confidential if necessary.
Another question that I have asked since I have heard the verdict is one that has not been covered in the media nearly enough. While imprisoned, Manning has been subjected to some treatment that is less than humane. This included being forced to strip naked every morning and being in solitary confinement for extreme amounts of time. To me, I believe that this was wrong, and this needs to be addressed in a serious matter so it does not happen again. After all, one never knows what the government can do if its citizens allow them to have unlimited power over the actions of their people.
Last but not least, I would just like to clarify that I do believe that Manning should face some type of punishment for his actions. He clearly knew that what he was doing was wrong, and, if he would have leaked more information than he did, he could have given troops fighting overseas serious troubles to deal with. At the same time, do I think that he, being as young as he is , face life in prison for his stupidity in putting other human beings’ lives at risk? Not really. That’s why I hope he is given a twenty or so year sentence when the judge makes her ruling. After all, there has to be some protection for people who want to stand up to things they find inappropriate in our government without fear of backlash.
May God Bless America,
The Generation X Conservative