(This is the one I finally posted in comments.)
I think, in punishing Manning, the administration is punishing the messenger.
we even be having this debate if administration officials had not
broken their oaths? Would Manning have had anything to leak? Does
anyone here really believe that President George W. Bush, with his
signing statements, his secret prisons, his torturers, was keeping his
oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United
States?" And by continuing and extending many of Bush II's policies,
President Obama has become a participant.
You argue that Manning
could have gone through channels. But many people have already gone
through channels, done it by the book. When we voted Bush II out by a
popular landslide, we were were doing it by the book. But the
surveillance state and the wars just kept rolling. We've done all the
right things, all the by-the-book things--not just the general public,
but many military and civilian officials. And the surveillance state
and the wars still roll.