The Morning Jolt

National Security & Defense

Manning Was Always One of the Bad Guys

Manning Was Always One of the Bad Guys.

I’m feeling really consistent this morning. I never liked, trusted, or defended Manning, whether it was the Bradley or the Chelsea edition. I never liked, trusted, or defended Julian Assange. I never forgot that he outed the U.S. military’s secret Afghan informers to the Taliban, believes in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, appears to be working with Russian hackers and Russian intelligence, blames America for ISIS terror attacks, and stands accused of raping at least one woman — charges that he has thus far refused to face. (I did wonder aloud if exposing something as significant as a foreign government bribing a presidential candidate would justify an action like hacking.) I had serious gripes with the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance operations, but I never liked, trusted, or defended Edward Snowden. Snowden released a ton of information that had nothing to do with spying on Americans, and everything to do with spying on foreign states and potential threats, which is literally the NSA’s job. (Judging from the reviews, the new book by Edward Jay Epstein makes Snowden sound like an egomaniacal lunatic.)

The good guys don’t reveal classified secrets that endanger other people’s lives. That’s not a hard or complicated rule. And after they’re convicted and sentenced, they shouldn’t be given a get-out-of-jail-free card because they’ve become a national symbol of gender change. That doesn’t change what Manning did, or the consequences.

But you don’t have to listen to me. You can listen to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who opposed the commutation of Manning’s sentence.


We spent the last two months hearing that Wikileaks is a tool of the devil and that Trump has nothing but contempt for America’s intelligence community, and Obama’s parting gesture as he steps out the door is … to groin-punch the IC by commuting the sentence of the most famous Wikileaker of them all?

Am I awake? Why would Obama forfeit Democrats’ momentary “we’re the party of national security!” messaging this way?

Kemberlee Kaye:

President Obama’s decision to commute the sentence of an individual who leaked confidential information to Wikileaks is in direct conflict with Democratic rhetoric lambasting Wikileaks for publishing illegally obtained emails from the DNC and Hillary adviser, John Podesta.

Wikileaks is only evil when it’s politically expedient. At least if you’re a Democrat.

Our David French: “Manning is a traitor who pled guilty to a lesser offense to avoid the full penalty for his crimes. He has received too much mercy already. Obama’s commutation of his sentence is a disgrace.”

Our Andy McCarthy:

It is also disgraceful for the New York Times to report without balance that “Prosecutors … presented no evidence that anyone was killed because of [Manning’s] leaks.” As the Times well knows, in cases involving classified information, the government frequently cannot reveal – let alone prosecute – the damage done. As a practical matter, such revelations end up disclosing more classified information and, critically, identifying other informants and countries who have covertly provided national-security assistance to the United States. That is why it is always a gimmee for apologists of the Mannings, Snowdens, and Clintons to minimize the harm they have done; it is generally impossible to provide concrete information to counter this claim absent exposing more intelligence and endangering sources for obtaining it.

For what it’s worth, some Democrats are not so enthused about the move:

Democratic New Jersey senator Bob Menendez questioned what message Obama was sending to future whistleblowers. 

“What happened here is that literally hundreds of thousands of documents were released. It put national security at risk. It put individual operatives at risk. It put our national interest at risk,” he said. “At a time when we are seriously questioning what Russia did, as it relates to our recent elections and the role of Wikileaks, I’m not sure what kind of message we send here. I’m really surprised that the president took this action, and I have concerns what message we send about ultimately revealing sensitive national security documents.”

President YOLO.

Remember, Davos, Free Trade Requires Free Partners

A point or two to add to yesterday’s piece, contending that the economically super-elite crowd at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland should stop panicking and start looking at how it can give the working-class citizens of Western democracies a better deal…

At Davos yesterday, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared to applause, “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.”

True. But it’s not unreasonable for American workers to be wary about competing with a Chinese workforce where the average salary is about $9,000 per year.

If leaders want electorates to look at imported goods less warily, they have to snuff out imports from forced, child, or exploited labor. You can’t have a free market with workers who aren’t free. In China, prison labor manufactures Christmas lights; in Thailand, human-trafficked workers are brutally forced to prepare shrimp for export for little or no pay; Cambodian sweatshops churn out apparel, and children are forced to make bracelets in India. The U.S. Department of Labor has found 139 goods from 75 countries produced by child labor or forced labor.

If a political leader wants a trade deal, they have to clearly and convincingly lay out who will prosper and how and why. For example, when GM chooses to make Chevy Cruzes in Mexico as opposed to the U.S. or Canada, one major reason is because Mexico has free trade deals with 44 other countries that allow the car to be sold without tariff, meaning it can be sold in another country for roughly $2,500 less than one made in the United States. (Do Mexican workers earn less in wages? Yes, roughly $600 less per vehicle. In other words, the tariff drives up the cost of the car four times more than a U.S. worker’s wages.) The U.S. has vehicle-tariff-eliminating trade deals with 20 countries.

If you want to persuade the public to support a trade deal, you have to spell out, this particular U.S. auto manufacturer will be able to sell its car for this amount less, which should increase sales by about this many, which should lead to higher profits and higher wages for these automaker employees. The argument needs to amount to, “here’s how you, personally, will profit from this new arrangement.”

There doesn’t need to be endless cultural hostility between elites in the national and financial capitals and voters in rural areas. Those elites need to look at and speak to those rural citizens with respect. Salute their hard work. Give the same respect to their traditional Christian faith that you give to the nebulous concept of multiculturalism. Stop depicting them as a mass of hicks, ignoramuses, lunatics, and inherently dangerous terrorists in fiction and nonfiction. Find individuals in their midst you can admire; seek out the great among them and celebrate them.

Wonderful News: the Abortion Rate Keeps Dropping, Lower and Lower

Sometimes good news comes along and it seems like almost no one notices:

The abortion rate in the US has fallen to its lowest level since Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure, a new report finds.

The report, by the Guttmacher Institute, found the rate has declined to 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women of, what is considered, childbearing age (that’s 15 to 44). That’s the lowest rate recorded since the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1973.

Another notable finding: the annual number of abortions in the US has dropped to under 1 million for the first time since the mid-1970s. It reached its peak of more than 1.6 million abortions in 1990.

The survey, “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2014,” was authored by Rachel Jones and Jenna Jerman for the institute, which supports legalized abortion.

And even though the authors didn’t directly look at reasons for the decline, they attribute it to two contrasting developments:

  • improved contraceptive use
  • a wave of abortions restrictions in several states

If you believe that the termination of human life within the womb is morally unacceptable, then the next best thing to an American society with no abortions is a society with fewer and fewer abortions. Even if you’re wary of an American society where the procedure is outright banned entirely, there’s reason to cheer when fewer and fewer women decide that this is the option that is best.

This might be the single best development in American life during the Obama years… not that the president would ever take credit for it.

This part is absolutely fascinating, suggesting that “access to clinics” does not actually impact the number of abortions:

There appeared to be no correlation between the number of clinics and abortion rates.

The number of clinics in the Midwest declined 22% during the study period, for instance, while the abortion rate in that region declined 9%.

In the Northeast, however, the number of clinics increased 14% and the abortion rate declined 11% between 2011 and 2014.

ADDENDA: Now he tells us:

“I’d take George W. back in a minute,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in an interview Tuesday.”If it was Bush, Reagan, Romney, McCain, you’d kind of know what to get ready for. I don’t know what to get ready for.”

You know, fellas, people might have heeded to your warnings about Trump more if you hadn’t already compared every major preceding Republican figure to the devil.