A muddled flawed and a very lonesome hero

I suppose that it was to be expected. Bradley Wiggins, having been convicted of various offences connected with leaking documents and embarrassing the United States of America has been sentenced to 35 years imprisonment. He will received credit for the time that he has already spent in prison and a further 116 days credit for being confined in conditions that no human should experience during confinement in a judicial system of a democratic country.

It is, of course, an unwritten law that no person is entitled to embarrass their government. You cannot safely expose vice, folly and corruption without facing the consequences of doing so. In an intelligent society the consequences of exposing vice, folly and corruption would be positive for the person exposing these things. In our present democratic societies throughout the world exposing what governments do or what is done under their rule usually has dire consequences, unless the exposure shows the government in a good light.

A great deal of nonsense has been written and spoken about the consequences of Mr Wiggins’ exposure. It seems that US Afghani relations were damaged when the Afghanis learnt what the United States had been up to. Even if the Afghanis had known secretly all along what America had been doing, they could hardly react except in a negative way when the truth came out.

Some have claimed that the leaking of information causes spies employed by the United States and its allies to be at risk. There has been no evidence of anyone being killed as a result of the leaks. Perhaps no such killing has occurred. Perhaps some spies have been rendered less effective, but one wonders just how effective spies are in the world today when nations can trawl through the private emails and conversations of virtually everyone in the world who owns a cell phone or a computer.

As with all legal processes, the 35 year sentence will be challenged, reviewed and there will be calls to pardon Mr Wiggins. I cannot hold out much hope of any reduction in sentence and even less hope of a presidential pardon.

Mr Wiggins sought, with the idealism of youth, to change the world for the better. He has not succeeded in this, but he has changed his own life irrevocably and not for the better. He has acted with some heroism, in a muddled way. He is a muddled flawed and a very lonesome hero.

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