Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Bradley Manning: WikiLeaker, Part 3

The Public Debate: Traitor or Hero


Kevin Poulsen
Kevin Poulsen

After Manning's identity was revealed, public opinion was torn. Was Manning a traitor to his country, or was he a hero?

Some argued that if the information that he was releasing revealed corruption in the government and military revealed possible abuse of the military power in ways that were illegal, that would make him a hero. Others pointed out that, because there were so many documents that even Manning had allegedly admitted to being overwhelmed by the number, it was also possible that much of the information released could needlessly make the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorist or other enemy attacks.

After Lamo had gotten a larger picture of what Manning knew and what he had allegedly leaked to Assange, he told his wife, who worked for the Army in counterintelligence. His cooperation with the FBI and other government agents began just two days after Manning had initiated their chats. The next day he told Kevin Poulsen, a reporter for The New York Times, what had transpired. Two days later, Manning was arrested in Iraq.

Joe Lieberman
Joe Lieberman

Lamo's actions, like Manning's, set off a debate over his actions. It was a debate that Lamo himself had internally conducted before turning Manning in. He told The New York Times, "I thought to myself, 'What if somebody dies because this information is leaked?'"

In the political arena, people were having a field day using the leaks to their own perceived benefit. Some politicians, including Joe Lieberman, railed against WikiLeaks, but no one went as far as Representative Mike Rogers, who told a Michigan radio station that Manning should be charged with treason. Treason can carry the ultimate sentence: execution.

WikiLeaks and Manning attracted comment from one of the premier whistleblowers of the last century: Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst famous or infamous for the leaking of the so-called "Pentagon Papers" exposing numerous lies the American government had told the American public about the Vietnam War.

Free Bradley Manning poster
Free Bradley Manning poster

Ellsberg held that what Manning had done was not traitorous and should be lauded.

He told CNN simply, "I was that young man. I was Bradley Manning."

Ellsberg was even arrested twice during protests for Manning. The protests, occurring in Washington D.C., Quantico, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles and even Toronto, Canada, followed reports of Bradley Manning's treatment in prison.


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