Many in the press still seem to have difficulty recognizing that a whistleblower, even one disliked by the government, isn't somehow an automatic pariah to society. Instead, they like to lump them in with actual law breakers. Here are two recent examples. First up is the Washingtonian, who seems to think that Ed Snowden and Chelsea Manning should be viewed in the same light
as actual spies
-- people who famously chose to sell secrets to our enemies or to help those enemies against the US. Lumping Manning and Snowden in with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Benedict Arnold, Aldrich Ames, John Walker Lindh and others suggests a profound misunderstanding of what Snowden and Manning did: releasing evidence of significant wrongdoing by the US government to the press
. You would think if anyone could understand it, it should be the press.
Still, I can understand how some
confused people still want to argue that there's at least a continuum between some of those folks and Manning and Snowden -- even if I disagree wholeheartedly -- simply because of the releasing of classified information. I think it's very different to give that info to the press, which is then able to go through it and report on the stories (as both Snowden and Manning did) than giving it to a foreign power, but some people don't seem to get that distinction.
Either way, even if you think the above chart is okay, the following one is simply outrageous. As pointed out by the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer, Time Magazine has put together a graphic comparing Snowden and Manning to mass murderers Nidal Hasan and Aaron Alexis
Yes, the argument they're making is that these are all examples of "missed signals in our government-clearance system." And we've certainly discussed how terrible
the process is for getting top secret clearance these days. But, even so, lumping those four together is crazy. There's nothing about what Manning or Snowden did that should have set off alarm bells during the clearance process. They were people who loved America and then realized that the government was secretly doing things that they believed to be fundamentally anti-American, and they set out to try to fix that
by alerting the public. That's pretty damn different than going someplace and shooting it up.
These are both subtle ways in which the press is trying to smear Snowden and Manning, by lumping them in with crimes of which they are not guilty.