Investigative journalism has always been one of the biggest assets to the United States in uncovering government and corporate secrecy, by taking advantage of one our most privileged rights: the First Amendment and the freedom of the press. And one key component in this investigative process is the whistleblower—the person who alert journalists and the media of these injustices so they can report on them.
However, last summer, we saw a possibly unjust act on a whistleblower in the U.S.: an unprecedentedly long sentencing for espionage (among multiple other counts)—despite, as an article written by blogger Juan Cole titled “Top 1o Ways Bradley Manning Changed the World” points out: “the lack of evidence for intent to spy and the lack of evidence that [her] leaking ever did any real harm.”
In 2010, Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley) leaked over 700,000 cables while working as an army intelligence analyst from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to hacker Julian Assange’s investigative site WikiLeaks, disclosing classified information to the public.
As Cole states, these cables were filled with information that people should know about the Iraq war, U.S. surveillance of other countries and corruption within governments throughout the world. So why was Manning sentenced to prison for 35 years if all she did was alert the media of these revelations? The official ruling was (simply put) that Manning’s information threatened our national security. However, one could wonder how much the sentencing of Manning really did to protect our national security or, rather, if it was a deliberate message to other individuals to keep their mouths shut.