Bradley Manning spent this summer on trial for his part in the release of classified U.S. documents to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. As a whistleblower myself, I spent the summer watching his trial develop while Edward Snowden's NSA revelations saturate our society's consciousness. What happens to Bradley Manning is important to me because, as discussed previously, I Am Bradley Manning -- we're all Bradley Manning.
The Government vs The Bank
I leaked confidential information from my employer to the media, who then disseminated the information to the public. I even worked with the "terrorist/hacker" syndicate Anonymous to do it. The only difference between us is our employer -- Manning worked for the government. Look very carefully at how the government treats this courageous whistleblower. That is exactly what happens to us in every industry. Rather than being discriminated against for our race, religion, sex, orientation, or any other involuntary trait, whistleblowers are discriminated against for choosing honesty.
Remove any rhetoric or bias, and Manning is on trial for nothing more than telling the truth. How or why he did it can be contested, but at the end of the day, he told the truth. When I told the truth, I was labeled a terrorist as well. I've done some drug experimentation and stole a few things here and there in life, but I never did anyone any harm. I never had a police record -- I was an honor student who grew up to be a respectable analyst within the finance industry. Because I told the truth, I'm now considered a person of interest. I've been arrested, hospitalized, and monitored for telling the truth. Now I have to watch a young soldier face a more brutal life than even I can imagine. I can't help but wonder...am I next?
Defining and Sentencing Espionage
If Bradley Manning is guilty of espionage, what does that mean for me as a bank whistleblower? Am I guilty of espionage against Bank of America, QBE, and Assurant? Are all whistleblowers spies? What's the difference between a whistleblower and a spy? What could he have done better?
Now that a single judge (not a jury of his peers) has declared Bradley Manning guilty... what does that mean for justice? Our country is in dangerous territory, and I, for one, am terrified of how corrupt this system is...
Brian Penny is a former business analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower and freelance writer. He's a frequent contributor to Mainstreet, Lifehack, and HardcoreDroid and an affiliate of Manduka and Tazo. He documents his experiences working with Anonymous, practicing yoga, and fighting the banks on his blog.