Daily Beast’s lead story today reveals that the Justice Dept. and the Pentagon have expanded their investigation of Bradley Manning, the US Army analyst who handed over what I’m calling the Afghan Papers to Wikileaks.

As someone who is, um, experienced enough to remember the Pentagon Papers dust-up in 1967 when the war in Vietnam was ramping up, and the DoD and White House were – to call a spade a spade – flat-out lying to the American people about the US military expansion and operations in southeast Asia, I feel compelled to make this observation:

Democracy requires truth. Truth is the enemy of politics. Those forces will be forever set in opposition, which means that, from time to time, the blood – or freedom – of patriots must be sacrificed on the altar of that truth.

Nothing I have read about Manning gives me the impression that he was looking for any kind of recognition or compensation from leaking the Afghan Papers. According to his friends, this kid – and he is a kid, under 25 years old (Ellsberg was 35 when he leaked the Pentagon Papers) – was hugely conflicted about what he observed on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what he saw reported further up the chain.

As our adventure in the sand continues in Afghanistan and Iraq, in aid of a purpose that I don’t think anyone has a clear grip on, I find myself thinking that Bradley Manning has more cojones – and courage – than anyone in the Pentagon.

One of his fellow soldiers, posting anonymously on Daily Beast, tellingly says that the Afghan campaign is called The Ocho (inspired by one of my favorite movies, Dodge Ball) by troops on the ground, and is thought to be an exercise in futility – whose futility is being hidden from Congress and the White House via smoke-and-mirrors PowerPoint presentations by DoD officials.

I’m calling bullshit on the whole military operation – not the boots on the ground, but the suits who sent ’em there – and saluting Bradley Manning for taking the risk he did. He’s likely sacrificed his freedom (he’s currently in the brig in Kuwait) for at least a decade to put some truth on the table.

Now it’s time for us – Americans all – to take a hard look at what’s on that table. And make some decisions about how we can drive some meaningful action, and change.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Are Afghan Papers the 21st Century’s Pentagon Papers?
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