US private Bradley Manning finally learned of his fate on Wednesday after standing trial on charges from espionage to aiding the enemy. He was exonerated on aiding the enemy—which carries a sentence of life in prison—but was found guilty of stealing and spying.
Even though Manning will not receive an exact sentence of life behind bars, because he was convicted on at least 17 different charges, he is likely to spend a great portion of his life trapped behind a government run reformatory facility, or just prison.
Manning was hailed as a hero leading up to his trial. Dr. Cornel West called him this generation’s “John Brown without the violence,” while others simply named Manning a traitor.
But for many, including me, Manning’s trial represents a dangerous turn in America. In the name of transparency, we’ve always had great independent researchers and investigative journalists to expose truth and honesty.
Think about cases such as Watergate, or most recently, Glenn Greenwald’s expose of how the United States government is spying on Americans. From simple news shows like 20/20 or Primetime, this is how we usually find out what’s going on behind the scenes.
It’s our way of peeking behind a layered secret curtain that we wouldn’t have access to without individuals poking and prodding for information that the public needs to hear or see.
While Manning isn’t an investigative journalist or researcher, he did something that exposed the truth about our government: They aren’t very truthful. In leaking over 700,000 documents to Julian Assange of Wikileaks, Manning did something that many people label as heroic. But this case represents where journalism is headed in America. Better yet, he characterizes how the government views truth.
Recently, I spoke with Bruce Dixon, the senior managing editor of the Black Agenda Report, about the Obama Administration’s war on journalism. During our interview, or conversation, Mr. Dixon strongly suggested that Manning and Edward Snowden, the man who leaked the National Security Agency information to Glenn Greenwald, gives us strong indicators of how President Obama views investigative journalism.
In fact, Dixon directly told me that investigative journalism and reporting are dead sports, and it is due in part because of the disdain that the Obama administration has for them.
Need more proof? Under President Obama’s stewardship, the United States government has charged eight people under the Espionage Act, a number that doubles all previous presidents combined.
In addition, former State Department freelancer Stephen Kim was charged under the act for giving confidential documents on North Korea to Fox News reporter James Rosen. Rosen was lambasted by the administration as he was tagged a “co-conspirator” with Kim.
In the end, most Americans should show a little outrage over how the government treated Manning. He was reportedly tortured, which is an entirely different article, but because of his action, we have a better understanding of how the government views whistleblowers.
The men and women who decide to side with honesty and integrity have been clothed with the unfair label of traitor.
The next time you read or see a small story about where the local diner buys its meat for that delicious beef steak, or where your favorite clothing store has its clothes made, remember that it probably came from the efforts of a journalist trying to expose some form of the truth.
Without them, how would we know if Richard Nixon was a crook or not?
Check out the latest Jason Henry Project podcast for news and commentary on Egypt, Syria, the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit bankruptcy, and much more.
Follow Jason on twitter @ProgressJason
Like The Jason Henry Project on Facebook