I haven’t followed the exact details of the Bradley Manning/Edward Snowden events, but I’d like to comment in the abstract about revealing government secrets – and in a way that may unsettle some of my fellow progressives. To wit, it’s not clear to me that revealing U.S. government secrets is de facto a noble act. I am a frequent critic who by no means romanticizes American foreign policy motives, but nor do I romanticize the motives of other governments and paramilitary organizations around the world. I’m as big a fan of the Noam Chomsky type exposé as the next liberal, but until it is clear to me that these other, often adversarial power centers that stand to gain leverage from such leaks have an equal or better model of governance than we have in the U.S., I am reluctant to let every twenty-something with a maverick instinct and a security clearance decide for themselves where to draw the line on revealing diplomatic and military secrets.
Again, I’d have to look very closely at the Manning/Snowden cases to truly make a decision on which of their actions are or are not justified from my orientation point. My only gripe here is against those of my fellow progressives who feel that no investigation is necessary, that all revelation of U.S. secrets is a priori justified, displaying an attitude that seems to rely heavily on a romanticized version of those power formations in the world that are antagonistic to the U.S.
I now reserve the right the change my opinion on this topic without notice.