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SPOTLIGHT
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Manning admits guilt

Published on -3/4/2013, 9:52 AM

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The Army private accused of providing hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks has admitted his guilt.

Last week, Pfc. Bradley Manning told a judge it was indeed he who forwarded diplomatic cables, detainee files, videos and other classified military and CIA records to the website run by Julian Assange. In a 35-page statement, Manning offered he merely was attempting to provoke public debate regarding U.S. military strategy and foreign policy.

"I felt I had accomplished something that allowed me to have a clear conscience," said Manning, who is facing perhaps life in prison if convicted of aiding the enemy.

We're glad he has a clear conscience, for that should allow easier acceptance of the lengthy prison sentence he deserves.

We simply do not share the viewpoint held primarily outside the United States of him being a hero of any kind. He is not a political prisoner, nor a glorified whistleblower. This disgraced enlisted soldier willfully engaged in repeated acts that could have led to fellow military members being put in compromised situations or, even worse, their death.

To be clear, we would fully support a robust discussion of current foreign policy and the many ways this nation abuses its status as the world's greatest military power. There simply is no outside check on strategic decisions made regarding which countries we'll invade, the use of armed drones to assassinate, the "rendering" facilities we operate, the "collateral damage" we accept, or even the sides we choose in other sovereign nations' civil wars. At the same time, we disallow others even attempting to develop the kinds of weaponry we have at our disposal. That's what happens when we dedicate more to defense than the next 20 countries combined.

With no rival, the U.S. gets to do as it chooses. We have shown the world we can invade other countries and topple regimes on false pretenses without so much as an apology. Such hubris, if left unchecked, has the potential for disastrous effects down the road.

But this conversation needs to take place within the infrastructure established by the Founding Fathers. Our Congress, rather than kowtowing to arms manufacturers and others in the military-industrial complex, needs to demand a respect for others' human rights. And we as citizens need to demand accountability, not a continuation of the status quo.

The conversation cannot be jump-started by the illegal act of a rogue U.S. soldier or broadcasting by a foreign computer hacker.

To remind the uninitiated, this was the oath Manning took when entering the military: "I, Bradley Manning, 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."

Consciously deciding to disregard such a vow is inexcusable. Claiming it was done for the betterment of the nation is the epitome of hypocrisy.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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