The Bradley Manning Sentencing: Reax

by Brendan James

This morning he received a 35-year prison sentence. Michael Scherer sums up the news:

The sentence was considerably less than the lifetime sentence Manning faced under the original charges brought by the government, including aiding the enemy, for which he was acquitted. It was also nearly half of the 60 years recommended by the prosecutors after he was convicted in July of leaking information and six violations of the Espionage Act. Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, had previously suggested that Manning face only 25 years in prison, given that the information he leaked would likely be declassified after that time.

Manning, 25, was dishonorably discharged and had his rank reduced to private and his pay forfeited. He will get credit for three and a half years already served in prison. If he serves his entire term, he would be a free man at the age of 58, but under military rules he could become eligible for parole after serving one third of his sentence.

Molly Redden suspects he could have faced much worse:

For their part, Manning’s defense team is probably relieved.

Earlier this week, his attorney David Coombs asked the judge, Col. Denise Lind, for a sentence that would allow Manning “to have a life,” while attorneys for the military asked her to make an example of him. Said Capt. Joe Morrow, “There is value in deterrence. … This court must send a message to any soldier contemplating stealing classified information. National security crimes that undermine the entire system must be taken seriously.” Not visibly reacting to the verdict was Manning himself—who appeared stone faced as Lind read out his sentence, and as a military escort walked him out of the courtroom.

Marcy Wheeler walks throughs Manning’s chances for parole:

Bradley could be released after serving one third of his sentence. In light of the fact Judge Lind has imposed a term of 35 years, Mr. Manning, considering the time he has already served, could potentially be eligible for release in as little as 9 years from now. As painful as it is to admit, this sentence, and Bradley Manning’s prospects could have very easily looked far worse.

Ryan Evans declares good riddance:

Manning is lucky he did not receive life, which he should have. The sympathy for this “troubled young man” is emblematic of a post-accountability society. No one, it seems, is to be held responsible for their actions any longer. Instead, blame is shifted to a difficult childhood, bullying, loneliness, or—my personal favorite—“the system.” In Manning’s own words, he was “dealing with a lot of issues.” … Manning himself has admitted that he understood what he was getting into when he agreed to provide these documents to WikiLeaks. To those who argue that he should not be held accountable for that decision, I ask: Why not?

Charlie Savage notes that, in addition to time already served, Manning “will be credited with 112 days for the treatment he endured at a military jail that the judge ruled was unlawful.” Charles P. Pierce adds:

Manning was treated barbarically over those 112 days. This didn’t happen by accident. This wasn’t an oversight. It was a policy decision. He was treated that way deliberately by this government. He was treated that way because that is how this administration wanted him treated. This is an administration that simply does not want the people to know what is being done in its name. The last administration didn’t want that either, but C-Plus Augustus wasn’t a constitutional law professor promising the most open and transparent administration in history, either.) And that’s the part of the story that shouldn’t go away with Bradley Manning.

Scott Lemieux, who expected a gentler sentence, agrees:

I don’t object to Manning being charged with a crime. I certainly strongly object to the way he was treated in prison. And I think the idea that his leaks merit a 35-year sentence is absurd. And as I said before, it’s particularly appalling when you consider the Obama administration’s “look forward not back” approach on torture. It’s hard to square this life-ruining sentence with the fact that no torturer was even considered worthy of being charged. I’d also say that at this point that it’s pretty hard to the American government to complain when other countries refuse to extradite whistleblowers.