Trying to figure out whether Bradley Manning is a traitor or a hero is the least important aspect of his trial, writes Manning biographer Denver Nicks in Time. What's important is understanding that Manning is just the guy who did what someone in "the age of big data and the collaborative ethos of the Internet" almost assuredly would. He is "as much a product of historical forces as an agent in them," writes Nicks. "[We] have stumbled into such a secrecy morass that something like this leak was probably inevitable, and that, worst of all, we were warned."
This event was foreshadowed by the Moynihan Commission on Government Secrecy in the 1990s, writes Nicks, which "warned that secrecy was already so out of control that, by diluting the well of vital state secrets with information that wasn’t truly sensitive, secrecy was sure to undermine itself." Indeed, he writes, the "secrets" spilled by Manning were not particularly secret and Manning was not someone who had access to the country's most confidential information—but we might not be so lucky next time. "Secrecy is for losers," Senator Moynihan concluded in 1998. "It is time to begin building the supports for the era of openness that is already upon us." Fifteen years later, we still haven't. Click to read Nicks' full column. (Read more secrecy stories.)