America owes Bradley Manning a debt of gratitude

Let’s be clear: No one has died as a result of the secrets U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning gave to WikiLeaks—which is more than can be said of those keeping the secrets.

Manning’s been acquitted of aiding our enemies. The other charges—serious though they are—appear to be a response to U.S. embarrassment.

What Manning revealed is, indeed, embarrassing: a U.S. government that lied to the public, spied on allies and enemies alike, and ran roughshod over the rules of war.

But the information Manning gave to WikiLeaks belonged to us. Manning didn’t leak information about weapons systems or troop movements. He didn’t sell it to the highest bidder or give it to our enemies. Instead, he went to the press with the truth.

This does not equal to treason, and the possibility of a sentence of up to 136 years for Manning is outrageous.

Manning has indicated his willingness to serve 20 years. Frankly, we think he should be released on time served. Yes, what he did was illegal. But in a larger context, it wasn’t nearly as illegal as killing civilians.

We’ve got a huge amount of work to do to fix what’s wrong with U.S. foreign policy. We owe Bradley Manning a debt of gratitude for providing an idea about where to start.