Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley, is a former United States Army soldier who, in 2013, was convicted of violating the Espionage Act. Her clandestine activities as a soldier allowed Americans to learn about the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike, an incident involving a Reuters journalist as well as other innocent men and children who were targeted by the U.S. military. Her leaks to WikiLeaks were made famous, but her cover was blown while she discussed her actions with former hacker Adrian Lamo.
Lamo turned Manning in to the authorities once Manning told him that the information she had leaked “might change something.”
“I want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are,” she told him. “Because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
Her sentence was meant to end in 2045, but due to the current administration’s latest actions, she is set to be released on May 17.
Like Edward Snowden some time after her, Manning was able to help expose the U.S. government in a way seldom imagined by liberty advocates. After all, we all know government is inherently incompetent, but it’s often difficult to identify instances of misjudgment and irresponsibility when it comes to government entities involved in military action abroad. Without whistleblowers, how would we know about these actions?
As we all know, bureaucracy removes the personal responsibility element from individuals working for government or government-run enterprises. When the buck never stops anywhere, who is to blame for a serious mistake or misjudgment? The public?
No. The individual.
Unfortunately, few bureaucrats, soldiers, policemen, or administrators are charged for their crimes, giving the public little to no hope that they will ever be held accountable for their actions.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why governments have a hard time tolerating whistleblowers.
As libertarians or liberty lovers, we must recognize the importance of whistleblowers. They let us know veterans are being mistreated, alert us when government wants to violate our privacy, and let us know when officials are not upholding the constitutional rights of our citizens. It’s a victory for liberty that Manning is having her sentence commuted, but as a group of conscious and involved people, we must celebrate her and her importance by encouraging others to step forward. After all, libertarians and their message of individual sovereignty can only be embraced widely if the evils associated with the centralization of power are finally exposed.