The security of the most powerful nation on earth has apparently been compromised by a couple of twenty-something techies who felt obliged to unilaterally expose what they perceived as wrongdoing by their country.
Pfc. Bradley Manning, 25, is currently facing a court-martial. The Army private is accused of handing over reams of classified documents to the international secrecy-fighting website, WikiLeaks.
According to reports, prosecutors claim the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst let military secrets fall into the hands of al-Qaida and its former leader Osama bin Laden. The young private has acknowledged giving WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and State Department diplomatic cables, along with battlefield videos and other documents. He downloaded it all from a classified government computer network while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq.
The Oklahoma native faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
Now comes Edward Snowden, a former Army enlistee who, while working most recently as a government contractor, released sensitive documents on U.S. surveillance programs to a London newspaper then made a get-away to Hong Kong. Most recently taking refuge in the friendly confines of the Moscow airport, Snowden is reportedly seeking political asylum from a handful of nations that are not exactly friendly allies of the U.S.
According to a report from Reuters, the fugitive former CIA employee, who just turned 30, still controls dangerous information that could become the United States’ “worst nightmare” if revealed.
Both of these young men have alternately been called heroes or whistle-blowers by some, while others view them both as traitors or even spies who have committed acts of treason against the nation.
One burning question that needs to be answered is this: Why were these two young men, both of them fairly low-level operatives, given apparent unfettered access to critical government intelligence and then allowed to make off with a vast trove of sensitive information without proper oversight?
The U.S. military, the intelligence community, and its contractors have some explaining to do.
— Distributed by The Associated Press