This country has more compelling needs than I could possible enumerate here, and most of them cost money that Republicans and their ardent army of short-sighted enablers are unwilling to spend.
But there's one compelling need that wouldn't cost a dime and would make this a better nation: a strong whistle-blower protection act that applies to all government employees, including soldiers.
Such legislation would assure that the government bullying of Pfc. Bradley Manning will not deter potential future Bradley Mannings from doing their Ghandian duty of conscience when opportunities arise.
Manning (the alleged giver of "secrets" about our illegal war in Afghanistan to WikiLeaks), who should be hailed a hero, is a fish in a barrel with all the guns of the world's most powerful force, the military-industrial complex, trained upon him. Convicting him under the 1917 Espionage Act will be easy for even the least competent government prosecutors.
As if those odds weren't sufficiently overwhelming, his chance of receiving a fair trial is zilch given that the second most powerful force in the world, the American right-wing propaganda machine, has whipped up a hurricane of vitriol against Manning and WikiLeaks. The sound and fury from the Beckbaughcoulters is so intense you'd think Manning and Julian Assange wanted to build an Islamic center in lower Manhattan.
The Lovers of Hate are so certain that Manning's head will roll that they can now focus their full attentions on demanding that Assange be "brought to justice" even if it means invading Sweden. (I wonder where that bogus rape accusation was hatched. Wink. Wink.)
One belcher of right wing bilge was on TV the other day asserting with absolute certainty (these people are so damned sure of every little thing crossing their tiny minds that they never bother to look for actual facts) that WikiLeaks' disclosure of the Afghanistan e-mails was an act of "murder" that has already "killed Aghans and Americans."
Even the Pentagon, that infinite font of misinformation, admits that there isn't a shred of evidence that anyone died because of WikiLeaks' actions. The right wing Noise Machine never mentioned what the Pentagon spokesman said on the subject, and most of the mainstream media relegated it to a single sentence or phrase buried deep in their so-called journalism.
The current administration, in direct contrast to its campaign assertions, has redoubled the previous administration's unconstitutional efforts to operate in absolute secrecy. This, linked to its refusal to prosecute plausibly criminal actions by its predecessors, may go down in history as the Obama Legacy.
Which is why genuine heroes like Bradley Manning should be praised rather than buried, why they should be protected by law.
I am old enough to have lived in a United States where citizens could expect to be given a substantial portion of truth in their diet of information from the government. A vigorous press, chock full of men and women who practiced actual journalism, served up even more truth. It wasn't perfect; a citizen needed a good filtration system to sort out the diamonds in the roughage. But it was possible.
Today we are governed by liars and receive "news" from such as Judith Miller, Glenn Beck and Karl Rove. We cling to our precarious freedom thanks only to the likes of Bradley Manning, Daniel Ellsberg, Julian Assange and Joseph Wilson.
Protecting them from prosecution and persecution is the least we can do if we truly value our constitutional freedoms.