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The Apology That Calls For An Apology

August 2013

[After sentencing, Manning asked Obama for a pardon, and in the process, took back the ill-conceived apology.]

Bradley Manning's apology to the court dealt a setback to the cause of freedom.

He effectively confessed to having "hurt the United States". This appears to be a false confession, since based on all available evidence his leaks did not hurt the United States.

It is not unusual for prisoners to be pressured into false confessions. Manning's treatment in prison was tantamount to brainwashing, which now appears to have succeeded in making him condemn his own great deeds.

Worse, he has lent his support the government's absurd insistance that whistleblowers go through channels rather than telling the public. As other whistleblowers have explained, that is a sure recipe for being quashed and punished, achieving nothing.

For the sake of future whistleblowers, Manning should have stood firm in defending the moral legitimacy of revealing US government dirty deeds to the public. A hero would have said, "I only regret that I have but one lifetime to spend in prison for my world."

I don't despise Bradley Manning for not being such a hero. The prospect of (in effect) life in prison is terrifying; few can remain true to a cause at such cost. I have no basis to claim I would do better than he did, so I have no right to look down at him; but I feel a great disappointment.

I still admire the past Manning who did great deeds for the world, but I can't admire the present Manning. With a heavy heart, I no longer plan to celebrate Bradley Manning Day.

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