Here in the United States, a young, gay soldier is on trial. The dry facts follow: He was stationed in Iraq. He had access to Top Secret Intel. He downloaded some of that intel and passed it onto a publisher who published it on the internet. The soldier was caught and detained.
Today in the United States, he is on trial or a number of offenses, any of which could get him a Life sentence in prison.
There are three basic camps around this issue:
There are those who view him as a hero and a whistle-blower: He’s the guy who showed everyone that the country that styles itself as the beacon-on-the-hill, is actually filled with petty, cowardly bureaucrats who have less than flattering opinions of many of our most powerful allies. This country has murdered innocent women and children who happened to be walking across an arbitrary tract of land that we deemed to be “the battlefield.” There was video of it happening from the helicopter that fired the shots. That video was released. One camp believes the Soldier had a noble purpose to expose the dirt and stop the policies that were senselessly killing people.
He willfully put people in harm’s way and got defenders of our freedoms killed: Top secret information is made secret for a reason. Sometimes, to outside people, the act of classifying information is the Government trying to hide its wrong-doing from us. Sometimes in reality, that might be true. Often-times, documents are classified because some of the stuff our Government does on a day-to-day basis really makes no sense, comes off as unbearably cruel, or if seen out of context, is really, really horrible. But more often than not, information is classified because if some of the stuff we do in the public interest, if it were part of everyday public knowledge, would make civilians targets, would endanger diplomats, would reveal the identities of people who get us the information our country needs in order to prevent misguided men from blowing themselves up on our planes, at public events, and anywhere else they can exact maximum carnage.
Revelation of some of the information the Soldier released may have enabled some of that to happen. And most of the actions our country commits, egregious and admirable, believe it or not, is necessary to keep our country running.
The third group would consist of people who are distracted: In this country, we have lots and lots and LOTS of means of entertainment. Movies and television and music and bars and plays and shows and sports and family and hobbies and activities and porn and fashion and the list goes on. We have “News” that pretends to inform, but usually just provides information about subjects which have no actual bearing on the decision-making process of our everyday lives. Most of these things, plus jobs, commuting, and family fill up our days. Most of us get our “News” while we are doing something else. Most of our “News” now produced now in a 24-hour cycle, isn’t always accurate, isn’t always fact-checked, and often reflects the narrowed lens of the people who have the money to produce it. They may not willfully be withholding information from us, but if we aren’t demanding more information and less fluff, the producers of the news will continue to think that “entertainment” is “sexy” and “information” makes us change the channel.
So right now, a few miles from where I sit, the wheels of Government grind slowly forward. One kid, hero, or villain, sits in the doc waiting for his fate to be decided while the guy who tempted him to make his choices sits in a foreign embassy, resisting efforts to be deported. Apparently the publisher of the classified information was fond of prostitutes. He was fond of sex with prostitutes bareback – he didn’t like condoms – and apparently had sex with two women in which he surreptitiously removed protection before entering them. They reported him to the police, as this all occurred in a country where prostitution is legal, but the act of removing a condom during sex without the knowledge of the partner is a criminal act and will get you jail time. His circumstances appear to be complicated but at more comfortable than the soldier who spent a lot of time in solitary confinement in his underwear or naked. If you betray your brothers-in-arms and are detained, solitary confinement is likely. Reason being, there’s a pretty good chance the betrayed will take vengeance upon your betrayal. If you express suicidal tendencies, you’ll be in your cell wearing just enough clothing for discretion, but not enough to take off, braid into rope, and hang yourself in your cell.
Everyone in this mess is in varying degrees of discomfort. Its hard to claim you are the land of the Free when there’s video and emails and telexes out there of you oppressing people. Its hard to be a whistle blower when the information you decided to release may have gotten people killed and there are people who expect you to bear responsibility for those decisions. Its hard to live in a country where information you need to make decisions that affect your everyday life isn’t easily obtained, but news on talentless bimbos is streamed across the airwaves 24-7-365.
To be honest, I don’t think we’ll ever know the full truth as to what happened, or if there is such a thing as “truth” in today’s world. “Truth” from a video camera on a US Gunship looks a lot different than the “Truth” of watching a family member die from gunshot wounds. “Truth” from the office of a diplomat looks a lot different than “Truth” from an Intelligence officer downloading Classified information for publication on the Internet. “Truth” for the full pleasure of sex purchased legally looks different than the “Truth” of knowing that you had unprotected sex against your will with a person who has had habitual unprotected sex with prostitutes.
Lots of facets. Lots of “Truths.” Lots of viewpoints and no easy solution.