This week marks two years since U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning was detained on allegations of leaking classified documents to the online whistleblower WikiLeaks. Manning faces up to life imprisonment in a military trial set to begin in September. “It’s so important to remember that what Bradley Manning is alleged to have done … was an act of incredible nobility, bringing immense amounts of transparency to the United States government and its war actions, ones that are usually shrouded in complete secrecy,” says Salon.com blogger and constitutional law attorney Glenn Greenwald, who has been following the case closely. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, still on with us. Glenn, this week is the second anniversary—it would be two years ago yesterday that Bradley Manning, the young U.S. soldier in Iraq, was taken into custody. He has been charged with releasing the documents, getting a hold of and releasing the documents, millions of them, to WikiLeaks from Iraq, Afghanistan. Can you talk about the significance of this in light of what we’re seeing develop with Julian Assange today, the WikiLeaks founder?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, I think it’s so important to remember that what Bradley Manning is alleged to have done, what WikiLeaks did, was an act of incredible nobility, bringing immense amounts of transparency to the United States government and its war actions, ones that are usually shrouded in complete secrecy, a real threat to democracy. In the course of doing so, there’s no suggestion that they harm national security, but there are countless stories of great national and international importance that they enable to be written about what the U.S. government, what other governments around the world are doing.
And I think it’s very important to keep in mind there was a lot of support for WikiLeaks a couple of years ago for Julian Assange, for Bradley Manning. And what the U.S. government does in cases like this, when somebody poses a threat to their secrecy regime and to their power—and it’s been going on for decades—is they try and engage in a campaign of personal destruction. It’s what Richard Nixon tried to do with Daniel Ellsberg, breaking into his psychiatrist’s office just to discredit him, to make nobody want to have any thing to do with Daniel Ellsberg. That is what has been done to Julian Assange. His personality has been demonized.
And I think it’s really important to realize how grave of a threat it would be to press freedom and transparency if the Obama administration succeeds in indicting Julian Assange and extraditing him to the United States, forcing him to stand trial under espionage charges, and how it’s incumbent upon everybody who believes in transparency and press freedoms to put aside whatever personal feelings you might have about Julian Assange and his personality or Bradley Manning and stand for this critical cause and not allow the Obama administration to do this. I think a lot of people have been warned away by the feeling that, well, Julian Assange is just not somebody with whom I want to be associated. And I think it’s critical to keep an eye on the much, much larger issues at stake here.