Even the best of us make mistakes. That may be the only way to spin recent actions by two international agencies that have made peace and justice their cause.
A Norwegian legislator recently made the rare decision to divulge his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize: Wikileaks. In a similar vein, Amnesty International has stepped into the treason case of Pfc Bradley Manning, the US Army soldier allegedy behind the release of a vast amount of classified documents to Wikileaks, alleging that Manning may be due a better quality of justice than American.
Both of these long-standing agencies have a history of controversial decisions. China took major exception with the Nobel’s recent decision to recognize a well-known government dissident; Amnesty International, on behalf of the cause of freedom and justice, has locked horns with numerous governments including our own.
Both agencies have made excellent progress for their respective causes, which is why their dual support of Pfc Manning and Wikileaks is disturbing. For some reason representatives of both the Nobel Peace Prize and Amnesty International seem to have no problem with the visceral act of betrayal that lies at the heart of an alleged treasonous act and the subsequent publishing of stolen documents.
The Nobel Peace Prize, awarded since 1901, is usually a closely held state secret. But a legislator from Norway’s Socialist Left Party, Snorre Valen, decided that Wikileaks further the cause of peace by an action that involved, at the least, trafficking in stolen property, and at worst, divulging state secrets that might endanger an untold number of lives.
Valen, a 26-year-old politician, may not be a naive and simple-minded individual. Yet nothing about a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for hackers specializing in espionage appears wise.
Amnesty International, in operation since 1961, stepped into this quagmire by pushing the British government to look into the possibility that Manning, who was born in Oklahoma, was actually a British citizen. Regardless of whether or not that’s true, Amnesty International should have stopped this action after considering two facts that should by foremost in this matter: 1) Manning is a serving member of the U.S. Armed Forces and is subject, like all other soldiers, sailors and airmen, to military justice; 2) Manning swore an oath to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.
That oath didn’t say anything about selling out his country.
The Nobel Peace Prize and Amnesty International have stood as icons for the type of heroism that transcends cultural, ethnic and geographic borders. Let’s hope these entities can get back to the more important business of peace and justice and leave the question of treason to the American people.