Pfc. Bradley Manning: Nobody asked, nobody told
Rep. Peter King (RN.Y.) calls the socalled WikiLeaks scandal “worse than a military attack.” If that’s true, it has given us an idea of how Barack Obama’s administration might respond in the event of an actual military attack. Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a criminal investigation.
That’s just what Bill Clinton did when Muslim terrorists first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. He treated it like it was a random street crime. And the result of that massive error was the destruction of the World Trade Center and 3,000 lives, eight years later in the worst attack ever perpetrated on the United States.
But this mistake is bigger and in many ways worse than Clinton’s. Because these leaks are a symptom of a national-security nightmare of Obama’s own making.
Only an administration with no respect for security secrets could permit such bungling to begin with. And Obama shows no signs of figuring out what is wrong within his own government. America is a laughingstock around the world as a result of this breakdown. Der Spiegel calls the leaks “a political meltdown for American foreign policy.”
“Never before in history has a superpower lost control of such vast amounts of such sensitive information. . . .” said the German magazine. “Never before has the trust America’s partners have in the country been as badly shaken.” The Guardian, a British paper, wrote: “The impression is of the world’s superpower roaming helpless in a world in which nobody behaves as bidden.”
Yes, Mr. Obama, there are bad guys out there in the world who have no use for the United States, even with you at the helm. But who is responsible?
One of those facing charges is Pfc. Bradley Manning, a young man who should not have been in the Army because he was a homosexual. Yet, he was not only permitted to serve, but he was also provided access to top national-security secrets, hundreds of thousands of classified documents, which he released to WikiLeaks.org.
This was a kid who, according to The New York Times, was defined by his homosexuality from a young age. His friends in the Army knew that he was a homosexual. But nobody asked and nobody told.
Here’s how The New York Times told the story last August: “But it was around two years ago, when Pfc. Bradley Manning came here [Cambridge, Mass.] to visit a man he had fallen in love with, that he finally seemed to have found a place where he fit in, part of a social circle that included politically motivated computer hackers and his boyfriend, a self-described drag queen. So when his military career seemed headed nowhere good, Pvt. Manning, 22, turned increasingly to those friends for moral support. And now some of those friends say they won- der whether his desperation for acceptance, or delusions of grandeur, may have led him to disclose the largest trove of government secrets since the Pentagon Papers.”
“At school, Bradley Manning was clearly different from most of his peers,” reported the Times. “He preferred hacking computer games rather than playing them, former neighbors said. And they said he seemed opinionated beyond his years about politics, religion and even about keeping religion out of politics. In his Bible Belt hometown that he once mockingly wrote in an e-mail had “more pews than people,” Pvt. Manning refused to recite the parts of the Pledge of Allegiance that referred to God or do homework assignments that involved the Scriptures. And if a teacher challenged his views, former classmates said, he was quick to push back.”
Manning enlisted in the Army to help pay for college, and guess what the Army did with him? It gave him a security clearance and trained him as an intelligence analyst. Then, after Manning fell head over heels in love with drag queen Tyler Watkins, the Army shipped him off to Iraq.
By the way, he maintained that security clearance and the access to classified materials despite twice being reprimanded, including once for assaulting an officer. He also told friends that he was taking drugs about the same time he was copying hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables for release through WikiLeaks.org.
Manning faces a long prison sentence for what he did. No doubt others will eventually be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
But I don’t so much blame these misfits for doing what one would expect them to do. I blame the system of moral blindness and the disconnect from common sense that virtually made it inevitable.
Joseph Farah is a nationally syndicated columnist.