If truth is treason, then those that claim the treason are criminals. I understand that Bradley Manning betrayed the trust that he was given by his country. I have been thinking about this for a long time. Let me tell you a story;
When I was in the Army in 1969, I was against the Vietnam War. I was a thorn in the side of my commander, a captain of a battery of Nike-Hercules unit. We were about 200 soldiers isolated some 50 miles from our headquarters on a mountaintop in rural Korea.
I wrote a letter to a mother from my hometown that had lost a son in Vietnam. The letter was given to the newspapers. I received mail back from that mother and from others that supported my stance against the war. I talked to other people in my unit and gradually became a focal point for dissent against the war in my unit. Needless to say, I was singled out for harassment.
I was busted from E-4 to E-3 a month after going to a promotion board for E-5. The charge was that I had left my duty station on top of the mountain to attend a party in the Administration Area at the bottom of the mountain (I was guilty). I accepted the demotion.
The next Friday at Reveille (the lowering of the colors), I was told to attend the formation. I was on duty at the top of the mountain cleaning space-heaters and was covered in soot. I protested, but was sent down to formation, looking like a chimney sweep.
At the formation, the First Sergeant bellowed, "Persons to be promoted, front and center!" The section chief of the other crew pushed me and said "Get up there Gatto!" I went up front hesitantly. I was wondering if the Captain was going to publically bust me in front of the unit.
To my surprise, he walked up to me as I was standing at attention, covered in soot, and pinned Sergeant Stripes on my collar. I was, needless to say, astonished. When this was done, he whispered in my ear, "I'll get those Stripes back, Gatto," Then I realized that I really WAS getting promoted.
After the Colors were lowered and the formation was over, I was told to go to the Orderly Room. I went over and was told to report to the Commander. I walked into the Commanders office and saw the Battalion Commander sitting at the Captains desk. I reported, saluting and standing at attention, black faced in soot. He told me to take a seat.
The Colonel explained that I was promoted to Sergeant the day before I was busted to E-3. Since a Captain can't bust a Sergeant, the Article 15 was thrown out. The Army is a stickler for regulations.
He then went on to tell me that he knew about my activities against the Vietnam War. He then told me that there was a difference between living in a democratic society and being in the Army. In the Army he told me, I no longer had constitutional rights. I was under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He said there was a difference between a democratic government and a democratic army. He told me about the Soviet army in the 1930's that tried to establish a democratic army.
They elected their leaders on a regular basis. The experiment was a disaster. He told me that the Soviet Army was so disorganized that Finland kicked their ass. He also told me that he didn't really support the war in Vietnam either, but that as an officer in the Army he was expected to be apolitical. He said that the people of the United States should dictate what the Army does and that right now they are saying we should fight in Vietnam. When the will of the people changes, we will stop the war. Still he said, we took an oath and that means as long as we wear the uniform, we do as we are told. He also told me that I shouldn't stop thinking; I should just stop talking in uniform.
I told him that I understood. It made sense. I knew about how the Japanese Army dictated policy to the government that led to war with the United States. I thought long and hard about the military and its role. From that point on, I decided that I would only do my protesting when off-duty and out of uniform, and that's what I did. (Except when I went to the Stop the War Rally in Washington DC in my fatigues and John Kerry and his boys picked up my firebird and got me out minutes before the Federal Marshalls on horseback arrived, but that's another story).
Which leads me to Bradley Manning., he was a PFC in the Army with a security clearance. He too had taken an oath. This is the Oath that we took:
"I, XXXXXXXXXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
So in reality, Bradley Manning violated his oath. Remember, this is coming from someone that also violated his oath, and not only that, I fully support what Bradley manning did. I expect that PFC Manning knew exactly what he was doing, and exactly what the consequences would be. This does not mean that I believe he should be exonerated. In fact, I believe he should be charged for leaking classified information because that is exactly what he did. The facts are the facts.