Thoughts on Bradley Manning’s sentencing.
First I’d just like to say that the reason why you’re getting 2 posts from me today is not for lack of trying last night, because I did try and publish that post on the takedown notice I got 5 different times, including via email, but I couldn’t get Tumblr to publish any of my posts at all. Secondly I’d like to also say that I normally try to keep the Wikileaks-related stuff off of this blog, and just post links on my linkblog, but I’m making an exception here tonight, (as I sit here, it’s almost 11 PM PDT,) because I think this is kind of important.
This morning, around 7 AM my time, Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for releasing classified information to Wikileaks. All of us who have been following this since 2010 remember that when the judge issue the verdict last month, she found him guilty of 6 espionage charges, wanton publication, (which actually didn’t exist as a civilian or military charge until this case,) 4 “theft of government property charges,” and several other things that I know I’m forgetting. He’s also being dishonorably discharged from the military, and being forced to forfeit all pay, (I’m not quite sure how that works.) Links are here, and an article transcribing a lot of what Manning’s defense attorney said in a post-sentencing press conference, (which I was watching via live stream, so I’m not sure if there’s a recording of up yet,) is right here.
Yeah, there are reasons why I’ve chosen the political blog Firedog Lake, and the Daily Beast to link to. Kevin Gosztola
, the person who has been there pretty much every day for Firedog Lake, does great writing and tweeting, and so does Alexa O’Brien, the person who wrote the article for the Daily Beast. It’s been their tweets, live updates, transcripts, blog posts, as well as ones from http://bradleymanning.org, that have allowed me to not only follow this case from the beginning until now, (it’s end,) but link to them on my linkblog, which I may not have done as faithfully as I would have liked, (and yes I did get behind,) but I did end up linking to as much as I could. I have to thank them for their tireless efforts because it wasn’t CNN that was there, often times, it wasn’t the national, network news, or even the NY Times, usually, it was just them and a few others covering.
Now to the actual events of this morning. As I sat here waiting for tweets to come down, (as was an often occurrence in this case,) to find out what the sentencing was, I actually thought the judge would give Manning 60-90 years. The max he could face was 90; after she found that the government did overcharge him, and merged some of the charges. The prosecution asked for 60 in their closing argument, and the defense didn’t make a recommendation, they just asked “for a sentence that would allow for PFC. Manning to have a life.” Of course I was hoping that the judge would compromise, and give him less time than 60-90, but ultimately, I wasn’t sure what the sentence would be. 35 years is less time than 60, and it’s definitely way less time than 90, but it’s still way, way too much. He has already served 1293 days in prison, (that’s like 3 and a half years,) and almost 10 months of that was in solitary confinement at Quantico, conditions which were ruled by the judge to be “rigorous and unnecessary,” and ruled by the UN special rapporteur on torture to be “degrading and inhuman treatment,” (I may be putting this wrongly.) I suppose I could probably say that I was shocked but not surprised, and a bit saddened to hear of the sentence today. 35 years is too much time, like Manning’s attorney said in his press conference he represents murderers who get less time than his client. There are chances for him to get out of prison soon, but whether that will actually happen, no one knows. The attorney did say he was filling out a presidential pardon application, and in 3 years he’ll have a chance to be heard by a clemency board. After 7 years, the process of applying for parole can start and it happens every year thereafter, and good behavior credits are applied somewhere along the line.
In the governments closing arguments, they said, “there’s value in deterrence, you’re honor.” Meaning that they wanted to send a message with the trial, the sentence, and everything else around this case. Manning was actually charged with Aiding the enemy, a charge that could have had him sentenced to life in prison, but he wasn’t. I tend to think, and scripture tends to back me up on this, that there’s value in transparency. Not only that, but the government hasn’t shown any evidence from anyone being physically harmed from the leaks, not at trial, not at sentencing, not ever! One thing that was said in the press conference that stood out to me is that this would probably be a deterrent, well, I certainly hope not! Because if it hadn’t been for leaks, we wouldn’t know what the NSA was doing… now would we? I certainly hope that Bradley Manning can get out of prison in the near term, 3-7 years; of course I’d like to see if the request for pardon will be granted, but I’m not sure that’s likely. The Bradley Manning Support Network has created a petition on whitehouse.gov and a campaign site for the request, the petition is right here, and the campaign site can be found at: http://pardon.bradleymanning.org/