Yahoo asked military service members, veterans and others to react to Bradley Manning's acquittal on charges that he aided the enemy when he leaked classified government documents. Manning, a former U.S. Army soldier arrested in 2010, was found guilty of lesser charges on Tuesday. Here's one perspective.
COMMENTARY | U.S Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was found not guilty of the most serious charge he faced. As a former soldier, I wonder: What is missing from the information we have been given?
On the surface, Manning appears to be a traitor, if you believe the government's case; or, he's a soldier willing to be a martyr, if you believe he was trying to expose rampant corruption by our armed forces. With the information the public was provided, it is hard to determine what to believe.
After serving just more than seven years in the U. S. Army, I can honestly say I saw firsthand things that made me question my leadership. I learned early in my military service certain things will not be shared with the general public. I have no doubt Pfc. Manning probably witnessed things that should not occur, but did he choose the right way of exposing those things?
I witnessed two of my fellow soldiers killed during a training accident in Hawaii, back in 1991. The way we saw the deaths occur was totally different than how the media reported the deaths, which led us to believe the military covered up what we considered a terrible decision by our commanding officer. Many of us who were friends with the soldiers who died felt as if their lives were cheapened by what we read and heard in the media. Several soldiers who entered the military with the idea of making it a career abruptly left the service after the incident.
If Manning did witness something he considered a war crime, he should have followed the proper channels of reporting it to his superiors. By leaking the information, he violated the greatest vow taken by anyone who joins the military. Because Manning admitted to leaking the information, regardless of his motives, I believe he should be punished. The verdict could have had the potential to set off a domino effect of service members sharing classified information, had Manning not been found guilty of anything. I believe with the guilty verdict on less serious charges, the message was sent to both sides.
The Manning situation is troublesome at best. With the rise in technology, and our ability to instantly access and share information, the government must ask itself: What we must do to stop other incidents from happening?
John E. Moore Jr. served in the U.S. Army and Army reserves from 1987 to 1995 -- 25th ID, 1/27th Infantry Wolfhounds, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
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