Is Bradley Manning a hero or a traitor?

There are many people who are rallying to the defense of the soldier Bradley Manning, who was convicted of charges in connection to the leaking of sensitive government documents.

The Catechism states (2239): It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community.

Oath of loyalty taken by all members of the military:

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
I fail to see how Manning’s anti-war views could have, in any way, trumped his duty to his country as a member of the military. What do others think about the moral implications of this case?

It is an extremely difficult question to answer. What would happen if large numbers of people who are privy to intelligence divulged what they know? On the other hand if states are committing offences how do we hold them to account if no one ever divulges what they’re doing? We have to look at both sides of the coin, so to speak. I, for one, don’t know the answer.

He wants to say he is a whistle blower. There are good ways and bad ways to be a whistle blower. As I understand it he just handed over documents indiscriminantly - he may not have even known what half of it was. That’s not being a whistleblower, that’s being irresponsible. And yes, traitor. He could have come up with much less damaging (or potentially damaging) ways to bring to light whatever he thought was wrong, even if he felt threatened by the higher-ups in his chain of command.

I have a hard time reconciling the fact that his method of exposing certain illegal things the department was doing was blowing open extraordinary amounts of data, including materials that compromised the safety of many field employees. It smacks more of a rebel than a martyr.

In the CNN opinion piece I cited above, Manning said, in court:

“Your honor, regardless of my opinion or my assessment of documents such as these, it’s beyond my pay grade – it**'s not my authority to make these decisions.**” [Emphasis mine]

He acknowledged that he did wrong. And he violated his oath he took when he joined the service. My attitude may sound legalistic, but I think his action was imprudent at best. At worst, it was a reckless betrayal of his country. He could have turned this information to a congressman or senator. I’m just not sure I can establish a Catholic moral foundation for my argument.

He’s a traitor. If he really wanted to blow the whistle, he should have conveyed the information to his superiors.

To be fair, he did reveal atrocities, such as those shown in this video.

Maybe this information would have never gotten out any other way. And maybe revealing the information served the greater good. I don’t know.

Yup. Ever since the days of the Pentagon Papers, some have felt that their supposed good intentions and personal code trump national security and the personal safety of others.

Please explain how the actions in the video equate to an atrocity. I haven’t watched it, but I’m pretty sure the Apache crew doesn’t say one of the following on it-
-“hey let’s ignore the ROE and light these people up”
-“hey civilians/non-combatants, let’s light them up”
-“hey random group of people that aren’t a military target, let’s light them up”
-“hey I want to re-enact that scene from that movie where a chopper lights up random civilians”

Watch it and then be your own judge. I just put it out there for the benefit of discussion. :slight_smile:

Cardinal Ratzinger once mused that it may be impossible for a just war to exist at all in the modern world, because the nature of modern warfare. Cardinal Ottaviani (Prefect of the Holy Office during Vatican, and a member of the traditionalist camp during the Council) wanted the Council to declare that all forms of modern warfare were unjust. The Council did not decree this, so it is not part of the Magisterium, but regardless, it is a legitimate belief for Catholics to hold.

All that being said, I think that the US war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and previously in Iraq, are unjust, and thus I believe that Bradley Manning was justified in revealing the secrets of an unjust war.

Here’s a transcript of the video, but it will mean very little without having watched it.

With all due respect, I live in the NYC metro area and I saw what was left of the Towers. The war in Afghanistan was completely justified. Just ask the families of the 3,000 people killed and see whether they agree.

What happened in New York on 11th September 2001 was the most heinous crime you could ever imagine. Three thousand people were murdered that day; 3000 too many. They were murdered by a small number of terrorists. They weren’t killed by the Afghani or or Iraqi peoples. The UK and USA, Blair and Bush, had no justification for the war in Afghanistan or Iraq. Oh, I forgot Irag’s a major supplier of oil. The American and British governments just had to ensure that those oil supplies were under their control.

The West could learn from the former USSR. They’ll never win in Afghanistan. On top of the 3000 murdered in New York far too many American and British service personnel have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. Every time the West finds an answer, the Middle East will find the problem.

The Taliban were giving safe haven to Al Qaeda and refused to surrender Bin Laden.

And while I’m at it, how would you like to be a woman under the Taliban regime?

Yes, they were a terrorist group not the Afghan people. If you follow that line of reasoning why didn’t the USA ever invade the UK when we were being terrorised by Irish terrorists.

No, of course, I wasn’t. Similarly, I wouldn’t want my wife or daughters treated that way. But, we simply cannot invade countries on that basis. I strongly disagree with the way women are treated in Saudi Arabia. Do we invade Saudi Arabia, no, in fact we support their regime. North Korea is starving its people. Will we invade?

We have no right going around invading countries just because it suits our agenda. How do we choose which regime to attack. Why’ve we never gone into Zimbabwe and removed that odious, murdering dictator Mugabe?

Why aren’t we giving the final death blow to the Assad regime in Syria?

We weren’t and aren’t justified in invading Afghanistan. The problem isn’t resolved one little bit but we’re now pulling out of Afghanistan. It’s too late. It should’ve never happened!

The Taliban were giving safe haven to our enemies. That’s the difference. Al Qaeda has been largely defanged and Bin Laden has been eliminated. That’s a good thing in my book.

CCC 2309: The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

[INDENT]- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
    These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine.
    The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good. [/INDENT]

We negotiated with the Taliban. They refused to give up our sworn enemies. And military force was the only option to secure the safety of the U.S.

Condition not met.

Condition not met and won’t be met.

Condition not met.

I believe HH Benedict XVI (when Joseph Card. Ratzinger) said there could be no justification for a just war in our times.

Tony Blair and George Bush had these?

It wasn’t a valid option.


We’re at a stalemate here. Let’s get back to the original post. Your argument, as I understand it, is that Manning, a 25-year-old PFC, has the right, based on his understanding, to violate his oath of service for the greater good – even though he later said he didn’t have that right.

His statement in court: “Your honor, regardless of my opinion or my assessment of documents such as these, it’s beyond my pay grade – it’s not my authority to make these decisions.”
(See CNN link in my original post)

I get your point, but, respectfully, I don’t agree.

Now, I’m totally confused.:confused: I don’t agree that the UK and USA should’ve invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Would you please kindly explain how that translates into support for Bradley Manning?

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