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

None

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 »
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
16 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
×