Who are the number-one enemies of the United States of America?
Not terrorists. Not an invading army. Not a criminal cartel. No, the biggest threats to the government of the United States of America, the world’s most powerful nation (and supposedly a free and moral one) are a gaggle of nerdy young men. Their only crime? Leaking classified information. Not exclusively to a foreign power. To the American public.
Because really, all Bradely Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden did was release information on government activities. The funny thing is, the actual information released is almost completely absent in criticisms of the leakers. I have yet to hear a single argument based solely on the information they brought to light. No defense of the secret government practices in question. No serious assertion that actions revealed were morally justifiable, and merely misinterpreted. In short, no actual discussion on the issues at all.
What we have had more than enough of is character assassination. Whether it’s the rape charges against Assange or accusations of self-serving behavior leveled against Snowden, there’s been no shortage of attempts to villify the whistleblowers in every way imaginable. The most common of these is the allegation of treason, often without further explanation. After all, how could anyone sympathize with a traitor?
Take a step back and a deep breath, and the whole situation will begin to resemble bickering children. One child tattles on the other. The accused, beside himself with outrage, wastes no time in tearing down his sibling with accusations of tattling, malice, bad odor, an ugly face, and whatever else can be used to make the rotten, no-good tattler look bad. An adult perceives the truth in this sitation: that the accused really had something to hide.
The much-derided whistleblowers have endured the brunt of the scrutiny. It’s time we shift our attention squarely where it belongs: the U.S. government.