Pfc. Bradley Man­ning: No­body asked, no­body told

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

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.

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