Bradley Manning’s Sentence Doesn’t Mean His Story Is Going Away

Supporters of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning hold up banners and signs as they protest outside of the gates at Fort Meade, Md., Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, before a sentencing hearing in Manning's court martial. 
National Journal
Matt Berman
See more stories about...
Matt Berman
Aug. 21, 2013, 6:52 a.m.

Army Pfc. Brad­ley Man­ning, who leaked a massive trove of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments to WikiLeaks, was sen­tenced to 35 years in pris­on Wed­nes­day morn­ing. Man­ning was con­victed on Ju­ly 30 of most of the charges levied against him, in­clud­ing of­fenses un­der the Es­pi­on­age Act. He did, however, man­age to es­cape the most ser­i­ous charge of “aid­ing the en­emy.” Man­ning’s rank was also re­duced, and he was dis­hon­or­ably dis­charged from the Army.

The gov­ern­ment had asked Judge Den­ise Lind for a 60-year sen­tence for Man­ning, out of a max­im­um of 90 years. Man­ning’s at­tor­ney, Dav­id Coombs, asked for le­ni­ency to al­low Man­ning “to have a life,” em­phas­iz­ing Man­ning’s per­son­al struggles and his hu­man­ity. “His biggest crime was, he cared about the loss of life he was see­ing and was strug­gling with,” Coombs said dur­ing clos­ing ar­gu­ments this week.

The 35-year sen­tence, while not the most le­ni­ent, is still ob­vi­ously much light­er than the gov­ern­ment was look­ing for. The sen­tence also in­cludes 1,294 days already served. If he serves a full sen­tence, Man­ning, who is 25, will be re­leased when he is 56. With good con­duct, he could be re­leased much earli­er, be­cause he is eli­gible for pa­role after serving at least one-third of his sen­tence.

Man­ning’s sen­tence doesn’t quite end this story. He still has a large sup­port base, from WikiLeaks’ Ju­li­an As­sange and Noam Chom­sky to groups of act­iv­ists. In re­sponse to the sen­ten­cing, Am­nesty In­ter­na­tion­al is­sued a state­ment call­ing on Pres­id­ent Obama to com­mute Man­ning’s sen­tence to time served “to al­low his im­me­di­ate re­lease.” The Cen­ter for Con­sti­tu­tion­al Rights called for a full par­don. The Amer­ic­an Civil Liber­ties Uni­on called Wed­nes­day “a sad day for all Amer­ic­ans who de­pend on brave whis­tleblowers and a free press for a fully in­formed pub­lic de­bate.” And as many oth­ers noted on Twit­ter, it’s not as if 35 years in pris­on is a vic­tory for his sup­port­ers.

And even though the Man­ning case is unique, there’s already some pre­ced­ent for dec­ades-long de­bate over sen­tence re­duc­tions or par­dons for high-pro­file in­mates. The much short­er sen­tence than the gov­ern­ment was look­ing for might be a bit of an im­me­di­ate head­ache. But the years of at­ten­tion and de­bate to come will likely make sure the story doesn’t end any­time soon.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4396) }}

What We're Following See More »
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

TAKATA RECALLS COULD TAKE YEARS TO COMPLETE
Airbag Recalls Target 12 Million Automobiles
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identified on Friday the makes and models of 12 million cars and motorcycles that have been recalled because of defective air bag inflators made by Japanese supplier Takata. The action includes 4.3 million Chryslers; 4.5 million Hondas; 1.6 million Toyotas; 731,000 Mazdas; 402,000 Nissans; 383,000 Subarus; 38,000 Mitsubishis; and 2,800 Ferraris. ... Analysts have said it could take years for all of the air bags to be replaced. Some have questioned whether Takata can survive the latest blow."

Source:
INVESTIGATION LEADS TO LEAKER’S RESIGNATION
Secret Service Disciplines 41 Agents Over Chaffetz Leak
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says 41 Secret Service agents have been disciplined in the fallout of an investigation over the agency's leak of personnel files. The leaker, who has resigned, released records showing that Oversight and Government Reform Chair Jason Chaffetz—who was leading an investigation of Secret Service security lapses—had applied for a job at the agency years before. The punishments include reprimands and suspension without pay. "Like many others I was appalled by the episode reflected in the Inspector General’s report, which brought real discredit to the Secret Service," said Johnson.

Source:
AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
×