For the last 12 years, the government has reminded us over and over again: "If you see something, say something." Bradley Manning saw something, so he said something—and for that he has been given 35 years in prison.
One of the platforms of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign was transparency in government. He was going to usher in change, handing control of the nation back to the people, promising protection for those who would report government waste, fraud and abuse. That promise can still be found on Obama's Change.gov site:
Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.
If that is indeed the current administration's policy, then Bradley Manning should have received protection, not prosecution.
A presidential policy directive (PDF) signed by Obama on October 10, 2012, seems to extend whistleblower protection to Manning. It ensures that employees:
(1) serving in the Intelligence Community or (2) who are eligible for access to classified information can effectively report waste, fraud, and abuse while protecting classified national security information. It prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting waste, fraud, and abuse.
Of course, it is the very waste, fraud and abuse Manning uncovered that the White House considers classified information needing to be protected, and sending Manning away serves as an example to others who might dare to come forward.
It is the epitome of irony. The one who released information regardling crimes of torture, murder, and child trafficking is locked up, while the ones who actually committed those crimes are allowed to walk free. The Obama administration, which once prided itself on ensuring transparency and protecting whistleblowers, just informed the world that it has no tolerance for either.