Private Manning gets 35 years
This is justice?
Army judge Col. Denise Lind Wednesday sentenced whistle-blower Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35-years in prison. The soldier, who passed to WikiLeaks troves of classified material revealing U.S. military malfeasance and criminality, will also be dishonorably discharged from the military and forfeit all pay and allowances.
He was abused in prison. The government has made its point crystal clear to all members of the military who might think of doing such a thing in the future. The court could have been lenient in the sentence and it wasn't.
Manning was found guilty earlier this month of violating the Espionage Act on six counts, stealing government property, violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and multiple counts of disobeying orders.
At 25-years-old, the whistle-blower will be behind bars until he is 60-years-old if he serves the full sentence handed down Wednesday.
While the government prosecution had pushed for Manning to serve a 60-year sentence of a possible 90 years that his charges could amount to, the prosecutor’s desire to see Manning spend much of his life in confinement will be fulfilled.
Just as a little reminder, this was what allegedly made him decide to give material to Wikileaks:
On April 4, 2010, whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks published a classified video of a United States Apache helicopter firing on civilians in New Baghdad in 2007. The video, available at www.collateralmurder.com, shows Americans shooting and killing 11 individuals who do not return fire. Two of those killed were Reuters’ employees, including 22 year old Reuters’ photojournalist Namir Noor-Eldeen and his driver, 40 year old Saeed Chmagh.
So the people who did that wanton killing will pay no price. But Bradley Manning will do many years in prison for revealing what they did.
The video includes an audio recording of the internal commentary by the American soldiers before, during and after the shooting. The soldiers repeatedly request and are granted permission to open fire, encourage one another and joke about the dead and dying civilians. (Full transcript available here)
A total of 11 adults were killed. Two children, passengers in a van that arrived on the scene after the first bout of gunfire had ceased, were seriously injured when the Apache helicopter opened fire on their van.
In 2007, Reuters called for an investigation into the attack. In response, a spokesman for the multinational forces in Baghdad stated: “There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force.”
Read the Army’s report on the death’s of two Reuter’s employees and the wounding of the two children.
There was no investigation into the nine other deaths.
No charges have been filed against the American soldiers in the Apache helicopter who shot and killed the civilians in the video.
It's a very long sentence. One can only hope that the US government shows the same compassion toward Bradley Manning that it showed to convicted mass murderer William Calley after the Mi Lai massacre:
Twenty-five enlisted men and officers were charged with the crimes at My Lai, including Calley's superior, Ernest Medina, who gave the order to attack the village. In the end, though, only Calley was found guilty—of premeditated murder. Even his critics saw him as a scapegoat, a low-ranking officer who was just following orders. "Calley may have been more zealous than others, but he was doing what was expected," says Ron Ridenhour, the GI who heard about the massacre from friends in Charlie Company and worked tirelessly to expose it. "This was not the aberration of one wild officer. My Lai was an act of policy. Calley had his guilt, but he was just one small actor in a very large play, and he did not write the script."
If you think that William Calley had a rough time after that, think again. The 1989 People magazine profile from which that's lifted reveals that he went on to lead a very nice upper middle class suburban life. He had no trouble living with his crimes, evidently.
Inevitably, he became a lightning rod for a country bitterly divided over the war. Antiwar protesters compared him to Charles Manson. At the same time, there were rallies for Calley, and politicians such as George Wallace came to his defense. Women sent him nude photos, and some proposed marriage. There were pop songs written about him, as well as books and a Broadway musical. One admirer even gave him a Mercedes.
"My last name was massacre," Calley once said. "I was in a windstorm. I lived in a cage." Yet it was a more comfortable cage than one might expect for a convicted murderer. Sentenced to life imprisonment, Calley spent only three days in the stockade at Fort Benning before President Nixon ordered his release to house arrest. Three years later he was a free man, paroled by the Secretary of the Army.
For revealing army war crimes Pfc. Bradley Manning has already done far more time in prison than Lieutenant William Calley did for committing them. Yes, the government has made its point crystal clear.