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Exposing America’s sources to harm and America’s secrets to the world doesn’t make America better or stronger. It makes it harder for friends to stay friends and information to flow our way. This was the point—to cripple, or at least hamstring, America’s foreign policy apparatus. Like Alger Hiss or Julius Rosenberg, Manning’s treachery needed not thirty pieces of silver as an inducement. Hatred of country sufficed—just as love of country has prompted thousands of his Army comrades to die on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Iraq. The same word, “patriotism,” cannot retain any semblance of a stable meaning when it’s used to describe both Army Private First Class Ross McGinnis, who jumped on a grenade in Baghdad to save his comrades from death or serious injury, and Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, who transferred America’s secrets to an anti-American computer hacker.
A glib omniscience characterized the betrayal, in which a “never noticed” and “regularly ignored” 22-year-old private first class not only released more than a quarter-million secret documents without review, but did so while lip-synching to Lady Ga Ga. The frivolousness in which Manning carried out that grave act was fueled by a reflexive anti-Americanism and an ends-justify-the-means mentality. He may not have been old enough to even remember the Cold War, but Manning unknowingly adopted many of the attributes of Americans rooting for the wrong side of that conflict.
Certainly the disseminator of Manning’s purloined information remembers the Cold War. Veteran reporter Arnaud de Borchgrave recently detailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s childhood drenched in radical politics. De Borchgrave reported, “Australian acquaintances say [Assange] was bitterly disappointed by the outcome of the Cold War with a resounding global victory for the United States and its allies.”
The heaven on earth has long since disappeared. The devil state remains.
Historians John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, writing in their 2003 book In Denial, observed of an earlier generation of domestic subversives:
The American people, through the Constitution and under laws enacted by the Congress, invested in Presidents Roosevelt and Truman authority to share or not share the nation’s secrets with our allies. They did not invest that authority in Harry White, Theodore Hall, Alger Hiss or Lauchlin Currie. These men never went before American voters to ask for this authority or to account for their actions, but arrogated to themselves the right to give secrets to a foreign power.
Ditto for Bradley Manning. No one voted for him to decide what information remains private and what becomes public. He hubristically usurped that power.
He will pay the consequences. More so will his country.
Daniel J. Flynn, author of A Conservative History of the American Left, blogs at www.flynnfiles.com.
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