Bradley Manning Sentenced to 35 Years, Put into Perspective

Posted on August 22, 2013

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© Josh Sager – August 2013

 Manning WikiLeaks Mythology

Today, Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for his leaking of classified information to Wikileaks and the media. As far as all publically available information indicates, Manning will be transferred to Fort Leavenworth immediately to begin serving his sentence.

This conviction is the likely end of the years-long Bradley Manning legal saga, as the only things which could save Manning now are a presidential pardon or a positive ruling on appeal—unfortunately, neither of these are even remotely likely.

Manning was found guilty of 20 out of 22 possible offenses, including several charges under the Espionage Act. These guilty verdicts opened Manning up to a potential 90 years in prison (if given the maximum for each count), which amounts functionally to life without parole.

While Manning was facing a maximum sentence of 90 years this does nothing to mitigate the fact that 35 years is an incredibly long sentence, particularly considering Manning’s “crime” and the fact that even the government admits that nobody was harmed by his actions.

To put the length of Bradley Manning’s sentence into perspective, here are the sentences of several other leakers and criminals who were found guilty in the military justice system:

0 Years in Prison:

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16 Years in Prison: William Colton Millay tried to sell technical information about the US’s anti-IED technology to the Russian military.

18 Years in Prison: David Barnett sold secrets, including the identities of over two dozen CIA operatives, to the Russians.

24 Years in Prison: Jeremy Morlock was guilty of three counts of premeditated murder, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and narcotics use—these murders involved civilians, including a child, and Morlock took photos of himself posing with the bodies as well as body parts as trophies.

25 Years in Prison: Sergeant Delmar Simpson was convicted of 18 counts of rape and 34 lesser counts of sexual assault/battery.

32 Years in Prison: Harold Nicholson is a high-ranking CIA officer who sold a large quantity of top secret information to the Russians over a period of several years.

35 Years in Prison: Bradley Manning, for exposing war crimes which were illegally classified.

Unfortunately, while looking at this breakdown of different prison sentences (or lack thereof), we come to the inescapable conclusion that the “if only Bradley Manning had committed war crimes rather than revealed them he would be free” trope is entirely accurate.

collateral_murder_iraq2 War criminals, murderers, torturers, rapists and even actual traitors have been sentenced to fractions of the time which Manning will spend in jail—that is, if they are charged at all. Even those who sold dangerous information for a personal profit, putting fellow soldiers’ and agents’ lives in danger, will spend less time in jail than Manning.

War criminals, murderers, torturers, rapists and even actual traitors have been sentenced to fractions of the time which Manning will spend in jail—that is, if they are charged at all. Even those who sold dangerous information for a personal profit, putting fellow soldiers’ and agents’ lives in danger, will spend less time in jail than Manning.

Bradley Manning is serving 35 years for exposing the crimes and lies of the government to the American people; he is guilty of standing up to power and embarrassing those in the highest levels of both the civilian government and the military.

The book was thrown at Manning and not those guilty of reprehensible crimes for one simple reason: war criminals, rapists and traitors merely dishonor the military and the USA, while Manning impugned the honor of those in positions of power—a far greater offense to these people than simple violations of the law or war crimes.

Bradley Manning’s sentence is a loud and clear message to all future whistleblowers: blow the whistle and you will have to pull a Snowden because, if you stay on US soil, we will arrest you and treat you more harshly than any war criminal or traitor.

If Obama has any sense of justice, he would pardon Bradley Manning tomorrow, reinstate his military benefits, and give him an honorable discharge. After ensuring Manning’s release, Obama would then open investigations into all war crimes committed during the last decade and let impartial investigators determine the culpabilities of all people involved in torture and the murder of civilians.

Finally, Obama should sign over his Nobel Peace Prize to Manning—after all, a man who exposes war crimes and tries to make a difference deserves the prize far more than a man who utilizes a small army of killer drones to virtually indiscriminately kill civilians in other countries (then, to add insult to injury, labeling the victims of such strikes as terrorists).

For some reason, I am not holding my breath until Obama sees the light and decides to grow a sense of justice.