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Bradley Manning committed treason

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is no excuse and he doesn’t deserve our sympathy

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Private First Class Bradley Manning is a traitor to the United States of America, and his choice to use “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as a defense for treason is a betrayal of all gay and lesbian service members past and present. Whatever his reasons or excuses, Bradley Manning does not deserve the sympathy of the LGBT community.

Upon enlistment into the Army, Manning swore to defend the United States from enemies both foreign and domestic, yet by stealing and publicly distributing classified material through WikiLeaks he turned against his own country and became the enemy. Perhaps his decision was an emotional outburst, reactionary or immature, but it was a conscious decision made by a trained professional soldier entrusted with a security clearance.

Manning not only violated security protocol and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, he violated the trust of his colleagues, the Army and his countrymen. Now that he prepares to stand trial, he has shown himself to be willing to sacrifice honorable gay and lesbian service members to avoid responsibility for his actions. Lawyers for Manning are claiming that his struggle with his sexual orientation contributed to emotional problems that should have precluded him from working in a classified environment. This shameful defense is an offense to the tens of thousands of gay service members who served honorably under DADT. We all served under the same law, with the same challenges and struggle. We did not commit treason because of it.

Log Cabin Republicans have long advocated that one’s sexual orientation should not be grounds for discrimination or dismissal in the workplace. As conservatives, we believe in the meritocracy of one’s labor. Good behavior and excellent performance come with reward and encouragement. Bad behavior and poor performance come with punishment and corrective measures. To justify misbehavior in the workplace because of minority status is detrimental to the morale and performance of others. For Manning’s legal counsel at Fort Meade to suggest that his orientation and/or gender identity be part of a defense or excuse for his behavior is as unacceptable as the use of a “gay panic” defense by a murderer.

As a combat veteran and current reserve intelligence officer, I have testified to Congress that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a hindrance to service member integrity, readiness, security and was a waste of tax dollars. Members of Congress learned that forcing service members to hide or lie about their sexual orientation undermined service members’ responsibility and accountability under the UCMJ.

I told lawmakers that dishonesty was inherently counter to the long-held Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. Repeal advocates also warned that dishonesty and lying are security threats. The fact that Bradley Manning’s failure may be a predictable result of the corrupting influence of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” does not excuse him from personal responsibility for his crime.

Today, sexual orientation is no longer a barrier for one to serve their country with honor. It should never be a defense for dishonor.

R. Clarke Cooper is executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. He was a diplomat in the Bush administration, a combat veteran of the Iraq campaign and serves as a strategic intelligence officer in the Army Reserve with a Top Secret/SCI clearance at Fort Meade, Md.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Mike

    December 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Manning didn’t use DADT as an excuse. The defense was only bringing up those issues as a mitigating factor for the punishment phase. This is an Article 32 military pre-trial hearing, which has very different rules from a normal trial, and the press hasn’t reported on it accurately. The defense was prepared to call many more witnesses, and bring in evidence from the government itself which showed no threat to national security. However, the government *of course* didn’t allow any of this evidence or those witnesses to be called. Hence… all you are being allowed to see is what you have been allowed to see.. the gender identity issue.. which is only a very small point the defense had intended to make.

  2. laurelboy2

    December 23, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Excellent, and I agree that Bradley committed treason for which he has earned a just punishment.

    • Shane Oshea

      September 15, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      You are nothing but a moron, a brainwashed moron at that. Let me guess, you believe everything on the news as well? Read some books, look up some facts and get your head straight. You thinking this man deserves punishment for releasing secrets? You’re a puppet, plain and simple.

  3. Peter the saint

    December 24, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Bradley Manning committed treason? And so did George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Cheney and others. I don’t see them fighting ANY kind of legal trouble. Face it: the citizens of the United States have been in a mental civil war ever since the Bush Administration made the decision to commit our troops to the middle east. Heck – since he stole the election of 2000! The Bradley Manning incident is an example of the escalation of those same internal hostilities. When Bush is prosecuted, then everyone else… well face it: that will never happen. So my guess is that the mental warz will continue. Thanks Bush.

  4. Peter the saint

    December 24, 2011 at 2:43 am

    Hey, how come the writers here never respond to comments online? Afraid of losing your corporate-paid gigs?! Yea, I thought so…… Hmm. Well, writing an opinion is fine. But defending it actually shows if it was worth the paper it was printed on in the first place. Do you hear me Blade???

  5. Steve

    December 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Peter the Saint – You dont like George Bush, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Neither do I. They made colossal errors in judgement but they didn’t commit treason. Bradley Manning did commit treason by releasing classified documents that harmed our country. The actions of George Bush in office are not a defense to Bradley Mannings actions. The mental civil war that you are referring to only exists in the minds of a few activist types who hate George Bush so much that they cant put his administration behind them.

    Mike – You say that the defense was prepared to enter evidence to prove that Bradley Manning’s actions didnt endanger national security. I hope you dont believe that. Maning’s actions revealed the secret identities of countless informers who put their lives on the line to help the US. We dont know how many were killed or ruined when he revealed their identities. I consider that damaging US national security.

    • Shane Oshea

      September 15, 2012 at 8:23 pm

      So, it’s not illegal to release secrets that people should be inclined to hear. But it’s not against the law to kill hundreds of thousand of people? I don’t care what you say, you’re arrogant and also, ignorant.

    • MAB

      September 21, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      How did it harm the country? Did you know that one the Afgan War logs documents that the Department of Defence contractor employees hired male child prostitues? Don’t you think that is more important information?! I would want to country to know what they had done also! That’s our tax money paying for them to have sex with little kids and murder innocent women and children!

  6. Mommie Dammit

    December 24, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I expected a knee-jerk reactionary opinion from you, Cooper, and that’s exactly what I got. No reason, no intelligence, no exploration of the facts – just more of the same neo-fascist tripe we here from your organization whenever you come near a keyboard or a microphone. There is nothing that PFC Manning gave to Wikileaks that hadn’t already, in one form or another, been disclosed in other media. We knew well before Manning that our military and the military industrial complex supporting it were committing atrocities in Iraq, Afganistan, GITMO… the list is long and shameful. Manning is, if anything, a whistle-blower. If you wish to rant and foam at the mouth about someone committing treason against the United States then focus your energies on the real criminals and traitors of the last 20 years. Peter the saint gave you an excellent list to start with above. Until I see those BlackHawk and Apache crews facing charges for gunning down civilians and journalists, then laughing about it, I don’t want to hear another hypocritical word out of you or your Reich Wing sycophants.

    • Steve

      December 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm

      Your comment “There is nothing that PFC Manning gave to Wikileaks that hadn’t already, in one form or another, been disclosed in other media” is absolutely false. In fact, the evidence is that he endangered the lives of countless informers in other countries who assisted the US. We dont know how many people were killed because he revealed their identities.

      Your comment “We knew well before Manning that our military …were committing atrocities in Iraq, Afganistan, GITMO… the list is long and shameful” is also false. There isnt a shred of evidence that the US has committed atrocities except a couple of isolated incidents of soldiers who were prosecuted for their actions.

      Btw, Mommie, you shouldnt attack people personally. You should stick to the issues. Watch, Mommies going to attack me now too. You comments should be deleted if you engage in personal attacks.

  7. Ank90

    December 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Manning is a hero. Why not ask why Manning did not receive support in exploring gender id?

  8. Ay

    November 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    I’m a liberal and even I believe Manning to be a traitor. He had choices. Yes, the information he had deserved to be addressed but why was leaking it to the media necessary? There exists a chain of command for a reason. He had an entire Congress full of people he could’ve contacted. He showed blatant disregard for the safety of others. His sexual orientation has nothing to do with any of this. Emotional problems may explain behavior but they don’t excuse it.

  9. Anonymous

    November 29, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    I don't recognnize "treason" as a cirme, although I'm proud NOT to be American.

    However, I would argue that Manning was upholding his oath "to defend the United States from enemies both foreign and domestic" by exposing the corruption within the US military and diplomatic corps. Being physically separted from most of the world, the worst enemies of the United States are (and probably have always been) domestic!

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Opinions

Should we be scared of Omicron?

A reminder to stay vigilant against latest mutation

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It’s Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend when I sit down to write this column. The craziness in the world continues but other than the scare of the new COVID mutation, which has been named Omicron, there isn’t one headline to grab attention. Instead, there are many, including some manufactured by the news media to gain viewers or sell papers. Some like the car rampaging through the Christmas parade is frightening but incidents like this seem to be happening all too often.  

The stock market went down 1,000 points on Friday because market players freaked out about the new COVID mutation coming out of South Africa. However that didn’t seem to stop people from spending their money on Black Friday. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) was again on the attack this time against fellow Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) accusing her of being a Muslim terrorist. She apologized, or pretended to, but again the Republican leadership wouldn’t condemn her statements. These things seemed to be grist for the news media with no one else unfortunately really voicing concern. 

Boebert’s comments were taken as old hat. They are disgusting, offensive, and dangerous, but as long as her constituents reelect her we will have to live with them. She is joined by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.),  Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), and Paul Gosar  (R-Wyo.) who represent the worst in Congress and the worst of the American people. Yet again until their constituents throw them out we have to live with their stupidity and the absurdity of their being where they are. 

The new COVID mutation out of South Africa is potentially a game changer. But it will be important for scientists to look at this carefully to determine how quickly it spreads and whether or not the current vaccines will offer any protection against it. Countries around the world, including the United States, have quickly instituted travel bans for South Africans and those in countries surrounding it. The World Health Organization at this time has suggested this should not be done as it will have limited impact on its spreading and could have severe and detrimental economic impact on countries whose people are being banned. One thing we must learn from this is how important it is to ensure everyone all over the world has access to vaccines as we know the more people who are inoculated the harder it is for the virus to mutate. It is not time to panic yet and by Sunday there was some reporting this new mutation may not be any more difficult to deal with than the current ones and not lead to any more severe illness. The takeaway from all this is we need to keep vigilant, get vaccinated and get booster shots, and make sure we vaccinate our children. Continue to wear masks indoors and wash our hands. 

Now the other interesting stories last weekend were about what will happen in the Senate in the weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays. Remember the House of Representatives passed President Biden’s Build Back Better bill as a reconciliation measure, which means it can pass the Senate with a simple majority. That would mean every Democratic senator and the vice president. The focus is on two senators: Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sinema (D-Ariz.). In reality we need to look at a number of others who will fight to either take out or put something into the bill the House passed. It is clear it will not pass in the current form and then it has to go back to the House again. 

Another issue that will be taken up is the debt ceiling. It may be a little easier than thought because as recently reported, “After taking a hard line and refusing to negotiate with Democrats during the last standoff over the debt limit, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is quietly looking for a way to get the issue resolved without another high-profile battle.” Then there is the budget and since none is passed Congress will have to pass another continuing resolution since the one they passed in September expires on Dec. 3. 

So for the next few weeks there will be a focus on the Senate to see what they do and how obstructionist Republicans want to be. Seems while things change, they somehow remain the same.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Commentary

It doesn’t take a miracle

Hanukkah a time for LGBTQ Jews to celebrate full identity

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(Public domain photo)

For Jews around the world, Sunday night marked the beginning of Hanukkah. The story of Hanukkah celebrates the liberation of Jerusalem by the Maccabees, a small and poorly armed group of Jews who took on, and defeated, one of the world’s most powerful armies. 

Upon entering Jerusalem, the Maccabees saw that there was only enough oil to light the Temple’s eternal flame for one night. But the oil lasted eight nights — enough time for new oil to be prepared. The eternal flame remained lit, and light triumphed over darkness.

The story of Hanukkah was a miracle. While we celebrate and commemorate that miracle, we should also remember that it doesn’t take a miracle for one person to make a difference. 

The entire world is shaking beneath our feet. The climate is in crisis and our planet is in danger. A viral contagion has claimed the lives of millions, and there’s no clear end in sight. Creeping authoritarianism threatens the entire world, including here at home.

Sometimes it seems like it will take a miracle to solve even one of these problems. The reason these problems seem so overwhelming is because they are — no one person can fix it themselves.

Here in the LGBTQ community, we have made enormous strides, and we ought to be proud of them. But there is so much more work to be done.

Not everyone in our community is treated equally, and not everyone has the same access to opportunity. Black, brown and trans LGBTQ people face systemic and structural disadvantages and discrimination and are at increased risk of violence and suicide. It must stop.

These are big problems too, and the LGBTQ people as a collective can help make the changes we need so that light triumphs over darkness. But it doesn’t take a miracle for individuals to light the spark.

Our movement is being held back by the creeping and dangerous narrative that insists that we choose between our identities instead of embracing all of them. 

The presentation of this false choice has fallen especially hard on LGBTQ Jews, many of whom feel a genuine connection to and support for Israel. They feel marginalized when asked to sideline their identity by being told that the world’s only Jewish state shouldn’t even have a place on the map. And they feel attacked when asked about the Israeli government’s policies during a conflict, as if they have some obligation to condemn them and take a stand simply because of their faith.

One of the ways we can shine our light is to fight for an LGBTQ community that is truly inclusive.

This holiday season, pledge to celebrate all aspects of your identity and the rights of LGBTQ people to define their own identities and choose their own paths. If you feel the pressure to keep any part of your identity in the closet, stand up to it and refuse to choose. 

In the face of enormous challenges that require collective action, we must not give up on our power as individuals to do what’s right. It doesn’t take a miracle to do that.

The tradition of lighting the menorah each night represents ensuring the continuity of that eternal flame. One of the reasons the Hanukkah menorah is displayed prominently in the windows of homes and in public squares is because the light isn’t meant to be confined to the Jewish home. The light is for everyone — and a reminder that we can share it with the world every day to try to make it better.

As long as we keep fighting for justice, we don’t need to perform miracles. But we do need to do our part so that light triumphs over darkness.

It is up to each of us to map out what we can contribute to create a truly inclusive LGBTQ community. This holiday season, be the light. If you can, donate to a group that helps lift LGBTQ youth in crisis. Volunteer your time to fight for the rights and the lives of trans people. And be kind to one another.

Whether you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or of no faith at all, take this opportunity to share your light with the world. It doesn’t take a miracle to do that.

Ethan Felson is the executive director of A Wider Bridge.

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Opinions

Trend of banning books threatens our freedom

‘History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas’

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National Book Festival, gay news, Washington Blade

I knew Helen Keller was a DeafBlind activist. But, until recently, I didn’t know that some of her books were torched.

Nearly 90 years ago, in 1933 Germany, the Nazis added “How I Became a Socialist,” by Keller to a list of “degenerate” books. Keller’s book, along with works by authors from H.G. Wells to Einstein were burned. 

The Nazi book burnings were horrific, you might think, but what does this have to do with the queer community now?

I speak of this because a nano-sec of the news tells us that book censorship, if not from literal fires, but from the removal from school libraries, is alive and well. Nationwide, in small towns and suburbs, school boards, reacting to pressure from parents and politicians, are removing books from school libraries. Many of these books are by queer authors and feature LGBTQ+ characters.

Until recently, I didn’t worry that much about books being banned. My ears have pricked up, every year, in September when Banned Books Week is observed. Growing up, my parents instilled in me their belief that reading was one of life’s great pleasures as well as a chance to learn about new ideas – especially, those we disagreed with. The freedom to read what we choose is vital to democracy, my folks taught me. 

“I don’t care if it’s ‘Mein Kampf,’” my Dad who was Jewish told me, “I’ll defend to my death against its being banned.”

“Teachers should be allowed to teach it,” he added, “so kids can learn what a monster Hitler was.”

In this country, there have always been people who wanted to ban books from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by writer and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe to gay poet Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.”

In the 1920s, in the Scopes trial, a Tennessee science teacher was fined $100 for teaching evolution. (The law against teaching evolution in Tennessee was later repealed.)

But, these folks, generally, seemed to be on “the fringe” of society. We didn’t expect that book banning would be endorsed by mainstream politicians.

Until lately.

Take just one example of the uptake in book-banning: In September, the Blade reported, Fairfax County, Virginia public school officials said at a school board meeting that two books had been removed from school libraries to “reassess their suitability for high school students.”

Both books – “Lawn Boy” a novel by Jonathan Evison and “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by non-binary author Maia Koabe feature queer characters and themes, along with graphic descriptions of sex.

Opponents of the books say the books contain descriptions of pedophilia. But, many book reviewers and LGBTQ students as well as the American Library Association dispute this false claim.

The American Library Association honored both books with its Alex Award, the Associated Press reported. The award recognizes the year’s “10 books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.”

Given how things have changed for us queers in recent years – from marriage equality to Pete Buttigieg running for president – it’s not surprising that there’s been a backlash. As part of the blowback, books by queer authors with LGBTQ+ characters have become a flashpoint in the culture wars.

As a writer, it’s easy for me to joke that book banning is fabulous for writers. Nothing improves sales more than censorship.

Yet, there’s nothing funny about this for queer youth. My friend Penny has a queer son. “LGBTQ kids need to read about people like themselves,” she told me. “It’s horrible if queer kids can’t find these books. They could become depressed or even suicidal.”

If we allow books to be banned, our freedom to think and learn will be erased.

“History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas,” Keller wrote in a letter to students in Nazi Germany.

Anti-queer officials may remove LGBTQ books from school libraries. But, our thoughts will not be unshelved.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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