Well, a big problem here as I mentioned is in the severity of the punishment. The main gist of what Manning released, in my understanding, was far more EMBARRASSING to the US than dangerous per se. There are some web sites that actually cover the scope of what information got released. The information did not jeopardize specific agents and put their lives at risk, etc. The biggest revelations were involving war atrocities performed by the US, its covert involvement in particular activities during war time, secrets about Guatanemo (sp?), our awareness that our allies were torturing and physically abusing prisoners but that we specifically chose to look the other way, etc. It was all secrets that could color how the US civilian population would view our government and provide us with information that could color our support for our own government's activities. i.e., very much the "whistleblower" kind of information to expose our government's duplicities for the purpose of cleaning it up. And Manning got no compensation for this, Manning did all this for free with the goal of empowering the common person.But if, on one hand, he believes in all kinds of information being free, then it makes a lot more sense to me why he'd be bothered and why he'd feel any prison time is unjust. And I can understand Manning being used as an example to discourage other people from doing something similar (long prison time) being a fucked up thing to do (I never liked the idea of punishing someone for what someone else would be LIKELY to do). Personally, in the case of a military though, leaking secrets about the operation and technology of the weaponry is a pretty serious thing to do; there's more of a reason to keep a lot of information private, even if it bothers people to do so; and I'm not sure
This is in contrast to some of these other convicted spies/secrets sellers who actually SOLD their information for profit, and who sold it to active enemies of the United States (like the KGB), and who had been entrusted with much higher levels of authority (because, face it, Manning was pretty low down on the totem pole), and who actively put people in danger by selling out.
In terms of scope, Manning's punishment is ridiculous. It seems obvious that intentions were good and there was no profit involved, as opposed to these other people entrusted with far more responsibility and who proved to be traitors of the highest kind, for the basest of reasons. The only possible reason I can see for imposing such a ridiculous sentence, in comparison to past precedent + severity of the crime, is because now that Manning did it, it would be easy for someone else to get the same idea (dumping classified info for free on a web site), and the punishment is supposed to be a massive deterrent.
I guess it comes down to the degree of trust you have for your government, despite all the crazy stuff that is going on. Should the American public know that we shot up civilians who stopped to help the wounded? And that we condoned torture and bodily harm of prisoners in wartime? Etc. Would that change what level of support we are providing our government, would we want to install some more safeguards or higher scrutiny, etc? Or are we willing to keep our heads under the pillows and trust that they'll do the right thing so we don't have to think about it? There is always a tradeoff between secrecy and scrutiny. But knowledge is power, and the American people cannot exert power over the government without knowledge.
I am guessing his opinion is that far worse harm is coming by allowing the US gov to operate in secret (based on what we've discovered it habitually covers up, after dragging us into a 10+ year war we didn't really belong in anyway) than by this kind of exposure, and that whistleblowing is kind of a "balance" for gov secrecy -- since can you imagine what the gov would do if it REALLY thought it could get away with it? Whistleblowers and people bucking the system are the only thing that provides ANY kind of check right now.Lateralus has even bothered to address this other than to say there's no proof of any harm being done from the act, which may be true, but still shouldn't be encouraged (by not punishing the act); cause obviously, discouraging it has the potential to prevent harm, while encouraging it allows harm to happen because nobody really knows what harm might be caused until it happens, and even then it's not always going to be obvious; that doesn't seem very smart to me. Do you happen to understand his position at all by any chance?
But that is just my guess, and I cannot speak for him. I just noticed that he was clear about what he intended in the comment you were asking about, so I responded to that.
My overall opinion is that Manning should both be criticized for breaking a trust while also being honored for the reason the trust was broken. i.e., a dishonorable discharge from military and not being entrusted with government security in the future, yet also highly commended for performing a service to the American people. It's disturbing that a teacher can be sentenced simultaneously to merely one month of jail time for raping a student and some severe crimes receive only 10-20 years, while a whistleblower can be sentenced to 35 years for a non-profit crime that mainly has only served to expose some things our government was doing that we might feel uncomfortable about.