Former Ambassador to the European Union and High Commissioner to Britain
The U.S. actually comes across in the Wiki-leaked documents mostly as a human rights defender abroad. There is little evidence of damage to U.S. interests from the leaks. So, Manning is sure not a “traitor”; though his act of conscience while in uniform (or Snowden’s while under contract) can hardly be condoned by U.S. authorities.
Actually, apart from showing up isolated U.S. military abuses of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, Manning’s catch-all whistle mostly blew against corrupt and venal foreigners – dictators from Tunisia (dumped) and Uzbekistan (still there). Exposure extended to western oil companies in Africa, etc., leading to a strengthening of international codes of conduct against corrupt practices. In Canada, more explicitly responsible corporate governance, including for a few notoriously slumbering corporate boards, is again de rigueur.
The all-important surrounding question in judging the activities of Manning, Snowden and Assange is whether U.S. authorities will remain post 9/11 captives of the now all-powerful security agencies running all-pervasive data collection systems in secrecy, or whether adjustments will now be made to protect individual rights and hard-earned expectations of transparency in civic behaviour. Canada is part of it: we have a top-down closed system of completely empowered unelected and unaccountable security officials. Parliament is out of it. The special judges meant to provide oversight never say “no.” Where are our safeguards? We desperately need this open debate – so thank the consciences of Manning and Snowden we are even talking about it.