There are probably some here who don't realize how important those intelligence capabilities are, but the two greatest factors in our victory in WWII were the epic struggle in the USSR, and Western intelligence. Our intelligence enabled us to call the Soviet Union's bluff in the Cuban Missile Crisis, allowed Nixon to open China, gave us clear warning several times of Osama bin Laden's intentions (which Bush flatly ignored), and kept us on the winning side in the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. Most recently, Syria just cut off all internet access to their nation. Our intelligence agencies knew that was coming and, in advance, provided communications equipment to the Syrian rebels to keep the information pipeline open.
Sun Tzu is one of the most influential military thinkers in history. He considered intelligence crucial to the function of the state. It was so then, and it is so now. For anyone who doubts the importance of a nation's intelligence community, read this page on the CIA website. Failures to listen to intelligence led directly to the near-total destruction of the Soviet armies in the opening months of WWII, and to the fall of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. A robust intelligence capability is crucial to the survival of a nation.
It is that intelligence capability which PFC Bradley Manning endangered through his stupidity and ignorance. The only factor which should save him from life in prison is that there was apparently no malice towards America intended on his part. As I said, I feel sorry for the kid; he saw injustice and thought he was doing the right thing, but by his actions he may very well have enabled far greater injustice. He should have honored the oath he took. He willfully violated that oath and is paying, and will continue to pay, the price for his violation.
What most people who want to stand up for Manning don't realize is that he is not alone in standing up for injustice committed by the military; we very nearly had one such protester as president: John Kerry. But there are ways to go about such protests, and there are lines one must not cross. I very nearly lost my career because I blew the whistle and embarrassed people who didn't take kindly to my impertinence, so I can understand to an extent what was going through Manning's mind. The difference lay in that he went far beyond the pale and very likely endangered lives, not only of US agents, but also of informants guilty of nothing more than trying to stand up for injustice within their own nations.