American citizens: do you consider Bradley Manning a traitor? What should finally be done with him?

On the off chance that any of y’all don’t recognize the name Bradley Manning, here’s the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article on him:

Here are the questions I’d like to pose. Stipulating for the sake of argument that Manning did everything he is accused of, do you consider him a traitor? If yes, why? If no, why not? If yes, do you think that, as prosecutor, you would be seeking the death penalty for him?

Poll in a moment, but I see no reason for the impatient to restrain themselves while I type.


I voted wrong in my own poll. I consider Manning a traitor, but don’t want him executed.

Probably. I could change my mind about the second part.

Not a traitor. Wikileaks is not the enemy, and no information was disclosed which put US troops in jeopardy. That’s not to say he’s not guilty of any crimes at all, but “treason” is not the charge. He did not aid or abet or give comfort to an enemy of the US.

I did not ask if Bradley Manning was guilty of the crime of treason. That was not an oversight or mistake. I asked if you (and everybody else who reads the OP) consider him a traitor to this nation.

As you point out, “treason” has a specific legal meaning. “Traitor,” by contrast, means one who betrays another’s trust or is false to an obligation or duty.

ETA: I would consider Wikileaks an enemy of this nation, actually.

Whether he is guilty of treason, in my mind, is dependent on two things:

First (and much the most important) is whether any material he passed on was actually damaging to the US military or citizens, resulting in loss of life, injury, or serious property damage; or if he had reasonable expectation that it might do so. So I would not include those embarrassing, dirty little diplomatic secrets that seemed to be most in the news when this was a fresh story. I am neither a lawyer nor an expert in the legal definition of treason, but if all he did was embarrass some high level officials, I’m not nearly as concerned, and I would rather he were charged with something less than treason.

Second is his motive. If he had done it for money, or notoriety, or to get back at his CO, or some other unhappy reason, no excuses, throw him in prison (unless, see above, in the case of actual damage, execution might be called for). If he did it in the (possibly misguided) belief that he was helping make a better world, then I am inclined to be slightly more lenient in the sentence, if not in the actual charge filed.

The bottom line, to me, is that no-one in his position should be deciding what classified information is passed to non-authorized persons, but there should be a very high standard to try, and possibly execute, someone for treason.

ETA: ok, I missed the above correction before I posted. No, I don’t consider him a traitor unless condition one above was met. Whether Wikileaks is the enemy is not the point; passing information to Wilileaks means that other people than them will also see it and possibly use it. The issue should be the seriousness of the information leaked, not the person to whom it was leaked. Even if it was leaked to a “friendly power”, it’s still potentially traitorous. There are legitimate reasons why we don’t share everything with our allies.

If you’re not asking a legal question then by what authority are you suggesting he could be exacuted?

This would be a factually wrong and ludicrous opionion.

ETA he’s not a traitor either. He did not betray the US.

You know, I just re-read the poll, and I see that I neglected to change the wording from “guilty of treason” to “is a traitor,” as I thought I had. That was very careless of me, and it makes Dio’s response entirely correct (and my response to his response entirely wrong). I apologize.

I read that the military was claiming to need to contact various people in Afghanistan to ensure they were safe.

If so, I would think that qualifies as a reasonably foreseeable risk, even if no-one actually got hurt. So far I havent seen much actual benefit from the whistleblowing as a mitigating factor either, ie it was more of a job lot of telegrams rather than strong evidence of a particular wrongdoing that the person felt compelled to expose.


According to the Wikipedia link, he is charged with “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense; the prosecutors have chosen not to put the death penalty on the table. There is, obviously, more than one capital offense on the books.

As I consider Julian Assange and his organization to be acting in ways contrary to the interests of my nation, I judge them to be our foes and assisting them to be a betrayal of the American people.

He didn’t aid an enemy, so that answers that.

This is a ludicrous, borderline fascistic definition of “enemy.”

Personally, I support Wikileaks and think that the divulgence of these cables to the public is for the greater good.

That being said, I also believe that Pvt. Manning is guilty of treason. He divulged hundreds of thousands of documents which he could not possibly have read all of himself. It isn’t a private’s role in the first place to decide what the public should or shouldn’t have access too, and at best he was careless and extremely negligent in releasing information which could or could not have endangered American lives or provided vital information to our enemies.

It is, in fact, possible to have a discussion, even on the internet, without insulting the person you are talking to. Can I ask you to attempt that?

For me, treason means aiding a specific enemy, like North Korea or Syria. So I don’t think he’s a traitor. (Obviously, per the OP, that’s just my opinion not my understanding of the law.) However I think he did much more harm than good, and this behavior should not be condoned. I don’t think he should get the death penalty, especially when Ames and Hansen–who were traitors–didn’t. But I do think he should do a long time in jail. I hope Assange is happy with himself, exploiting this stupid kid.

Few decades in prison will do wonders.

Except Pvt. Manning is in the US Army not a private citizen.

This has nothing to do with whether wikileaks is an enmy of the US. For the record, it is not.

Traitor? No. Guilty of treason? Definitely not. Guilty of various serious crimes? Yes, and he should be punished. Lengthy prison sentence. Anyone who has a security clearance has been well informed of the consequences of abuse of that clearance, I have no sympathy for his plight. He isn’t a private corporation whistleblower and people who compare him to them have no understanding of how the military works or has to operate.

To late for Edit: I chose the next to last option, as there was no option for “Not guilty of treason, but guilty of other things and should be prosecuted.”

Like others I don’t know if he what he did was treason or not. I’d prefer he get a fair trial, and then be subject to the penalties. Not execution unless he can be shown to have caused the deaths of others, and that the penalty is fairly applied.

Just curious: for those among you who voted for the death penalty for Manning (assuming he was the one, of course), would you also have favoured the death penalty for Daniel Ellsberg?