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EDITORIAL ROUNDUP

on September 01, 2013 1:10 AM

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

Gainesville, Ga., Aug. 25, The Times, on nation’s racial progress:

Fifty years ago this week, a seminal moment in history was off many Americans’ radar.

This was the era before cable news and the Internet, so the only view most had of the event was on the evening news and in the daily newspaper the next day.

Even then, Martin Luther King Jr.’s address before the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington was relegated to many back pages, including in this newspaper.

Had he spoken of his dream for a more just society before a quarter-million people today, his speech would be broadcast live on every news network, streaming online video and seen by anyone with a TV, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

That half-century span in how news was covered is only one aspect of how different our society was then and now.

That African-Americans felt the need to gather in the nation’s capital to affirm their civil rights showed it was a time when such rights were not assumed.

The nation as a whole, and the South in particular, were just beginning the slow move past segregated schools and the “back of the bus” public mentality that had prevailed for so long. ...

Achieving King’s vision has never been easy, nor is it a given. Even after 50 years of milestones toward that goal, more work remains, and perhaps always will.

Milwaukee, Aug. 24, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on why Bradley Manning didn’t deserve a 35-year sentence:

Bradley Manning is no hero. He betrayed his country by leaking a huge trove of documents to the information insurgent Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

But the acts of this lowly private first class don’t justify the harsh 35-year sentence he received. Manning was an easy mark for an administration bent on prosecutorial overreach.

The message President Barack Obama is sending to legitimate whistle-blowers is clear: Leak documents, and you will pay dearly. Anyone interested in open government should be deeply skeptical of Obama’s tactics.

When he ran for president in 2008, Obama promised transparency and openness, and he was harshly critical of President George W. Bush, calling his “one of the most secretive administrations in our nation’s history.” Obama also vowed to protect whistle-blowers.

Instead, he has gone after them in court.

Obama’s administration has brought charges against six people so far for leaking information, more than all other presidents combined. …

Manning’s actions were serious. The release of documents embarrassed American diplomats and may have put people at risk.

Although there is no evidence that anyone was killed as a result of the document dump, some of the files given to WikiLeaks were found in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and turned up in an al-Qaida video.

But Manning also provided WikiLeaks with videos of airstrikes in which civilians and journalists were killed and files about detainees held at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

This was information that the public should have known — and didn’t — until Manning leaked it to Assange. The point is that there was public value in what Manning did — to a point. …

The Bradley Mannings of the world undermine the good intentions of legitimate whistle-blowers and put the nation at risk. But what of an administration so impulsively prone to keep its own counsel? Citizens must be on guard against that as well.

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