WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison

By on August 22, 2013, 6:30 AM
wikileaks, security, prison, bradley manning

Bradley Manning, who was arrested in 2010 as the WikiLeaks source of nearly 700,000 government documents, was sentenced to 35 years in prison yesterday. He was also demoted in rank to private, must forfeit all pay and allowances, and was dishonorably discharged.

The sentencing began at 10am local time, where Col. Lind promptly read out his sentence. She provided no other statement, wrapping up the entire process in under two minutes. Manning also accepted the ruling with no visible response and left the courtroom as supporters exclaimed, “We’ll keep fighting for you Bradley” and “You’re our hero”.

Although the penalty appears to be quite severe, it could have been a lot worse. Prior to Col. Denise Lind’s ruling, Manning faced up to 90 years in prison after being found guilty on 20 counts, six of which pertained to the Espionage Act. The prosecution set out to lockup the whistleblower for a minimum of 60 years, saying that a precedent needs to be set. “He betrayed the United States,” said one prosecutor, later adding that “There’s value in deterrence.”

On the other hand, Manning’s punishment is much harsher than past sentences for disclosing classified information to the media; the longest of which was just two years. Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said, “It’s more than 17 times the next longest sentence ever served. It is in line with sentences for paid espionage for the enemy.”

The good news for Manning is that it’s unlikely he’ll actually have to spend the next 35 years behind bars. He will automatically be credited for the 1,294 days he spent in pre-trial confinement, as well as a bonus 112 days for the excessively rough treatment he tolerated at the Quantico marine base. He is also eligible for parole after he has completed 1/3 of his sentence, which is in approximately eight years.

The next step in this case is the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. The case will be given an automatic review, where each side can offer up additional comments and arguments. Not surprisingly, it will take some time before this is underway since full transcripts for the current trial must be approved by both the prosecution and defense before proceeding. In the meantime, Manning will reside in the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Update: Below is the letter Bradley Manning is sending to the President to state his case (via AP).

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized that (in) our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy - the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the Japanese-American internment camps - to mention a few. I am confident that many of the actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, "There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."

I understand that my actions violated the law; I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.




User Comments: 27

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lchu12 lchu12 said:

I must say, my opinion on this ruling is: too lenient.

3 people like this | Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

35 years for showing the world what was really going on? Seems a little unfair to me, especially when the last person to do the same thing (although not so much information) only got 2 years.

What happened here wasn't justice, yet we continue to call it "the justice system"...

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I despise law enforcement placing heavier penalties when their interest are disrupted! I don't understand what good it does to make anyone serve 35 years in prison. I certainly don't understand why Manning's sentence is 35 years. I can understand the dishonorable discharge, possibly a demotion. Actually no I don't understand the demotion, not when he is being discharged. Promotions and demotions are only useful while currently active.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

I must say, my opinion on this ruling is: too lenient.

This is because of so much involvement from the media, and hence pressure on the government. Even some 20 years ago there wouldn't be as much world-wide concern, and he just would have been executed, for the high form of treason, but now the media world makes it impossible.

Guest said:

It really gives you an awesome sense of relief to see justice done occasionally.

In my opinion, Bradley Manning had to be either a chronic attention seeker (like Sally Robbins who faked fainting when rowing in the Olympics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Robbins), or just mentally retarded.

Either way the job vetting procedures failed, as morons like Manning are everywhere if you want to employ completely inappropriate people for a job handling classified or sensitive material.

So the Government is ultimately responsible for the security of its own classified material and in this case, as with others, it failed and got the consequences of that failure (data disclosure to the public and moreso, the ridicule of being so lose with data competence compared to other countries *cough* china *cough*).

Too much information in the hands of too many people. IMO that is the fundamental flaw with the information age and where the Big Brother experiment went wrong. If you fret that the government wants your data for sinister purposes, then you are probably completely ignoring Google, Apple etc etc etc.

Surveillance versus monetisation; Manning and Snowden chose monetisation. There is no idealistic 'middle road'. Only pretence.

JC713 JC713 said:

35 years is too much. I think 5-10, maybe 20 years at most is enough.

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

I despise law enforcement placing heavier penalties when their interest are disrupted! I don't understand what good it does to make anyone serve 35 years in prison. I certainly don't understand why Manning's sentence is 35 years. I can understand the dishonorable discharge, possibly a demotion. Actually no I don't understand the demotion, not when he is being discharged. Promotions and demotions are only useful while currently active.

I'm not in the armed forces so I'm only speculating. Being demoted before being discharged may reduce or eliminate any pension or other benefits as those things are usually based on your salary when you leave. However you'd think a dishonorable discharge would do that too, so I don't know.

As far as 35 years... he's lucky he won't be executed. Throughout history, even US history, they have hanged people for less. Treason has always been something that has hard extremely harsh penalties.

dms96960 said:

He just received an even worse punishment -- he allegedly wants to undergo a sex change operation and become a woman. His cellmate might be in heaven. LOL

[link]

MilwaukeeMike said:

When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

So Manning disclosed classified info because the US had killed innocent people. And by going against the US, he's helping the enemies of the US, who's entire mission is the killing of innocent people. Way to go Chelsea.

This is even more bass-ackwards than Snowden hiding in a country where it's illegal for two men to hold hands because he hates American govt oppression .

learninmypc learninmypc said:

Are you talking about Miss Manning [link]

Nima304 said:

The US government continues to take our right to privacy, and is upset when the same thing happens to them. I wish Manning had planned a better method of egress and fled the US while he was able, like Snowden. His actions are on par with what MLK did for black suffrage, and I could not offer more respect to him.

Scshadow said:

Manning and Snowden chose monetisation.
I'm not really intimately familiar with all the minor details. My current outlook on both of these characters(more specifically Snowden) is that they leaked information the government didn't want let out and the government is now butthurt because they have to try and explain, excuse, or deny all the embarrassing leaked info. But I'm very open to anyone's explanation of how exactly either of these two supposedly intended to cash out. My inattention to detail in this case may be betraying me.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out.

Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled

Guess who that quote is from?

2 people like this | Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

Strange to see how so many people think he did some wonderful and great, truth-revealing thing. He released 700,000 documents. Something tells me he didn't review all 700,000 documents. So my bet is he didn't even know all of what he was releasing. That's why there has to be a harsh punishment for this kind of stupidity. You can't have people just dumping government info arbitrarily.

His actions are on par with what MLK did for black suffrage, and I could not offer more respect to him.

Your comments do a great injustice to MLK's legacy. MLK had a very clear and direct plan and his actions were appropriate being civil disobedience at worst. A far cry from Manning's treason in releasing hundreds of thousands of documents of which, I contend, he had no knowledge of what they all actually contained.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

He released 700,000 documents. Something tells me he didn't review all 700,000 documents. So my bet is he didn't even know all of what he was releasing.
It doesn't matter what the documents contained. It is a prime example of how sensitive government and personal privacy can be as well. I'm willing to allow them all the privacy they want as long as they don't shit on my privacy. I grew up listening to the golden rule, it was even taught in school. I hope it is still being taught, but I'm not so sure by the way we are being governed.

1 person liked this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

Are you talking about Miss Manning [link]

This clarifies it. An attention-seeking, sexually confused military reject...

Tygerstrike said:

Its a 50/50 situation really. On one hand Im horrified at the ease in which Bradley was able to get this information and equally horrified that he gave it out. On the other hand Im kinda proud that he did it but I feel he really screwed it up. Its one thing to be a whistleblower, its another thing to be treasonist. Had he released this information to a US newspaper or media outlet then he would have had more support. As it was he released it to a NON CITIZEN!!! This makes his actions treason. So he may have had all the best intentions in the world but we all know the road to Hell is paved with those same intentions. Had he handled this with more tact he wouldnt have gotten as many years as he did. Since he gave them to what amounts a "enemy" of the US then he gets what he got for jailtime. His mistake was NOT following the examples of previos whistleblowers.

FYI: Manning has no rights while in the military save those that the military gave him. They did not give him the right to do as he did, so his jailtime is reflective of this.

Night Hacker Night Hacker said:

I must say, my opinion on this ruling is: too lenient.

Agreed. He's a traitor and his sentence is very light.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

FYI: Manning has no rights while in the military save those that the military gave him.
There is one problem right there!

3 people like this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

...[ ].....This is even more bass-ackwards than Snowden hiding in a country where it's illegal for two men to hold hands because he hates American govt oppression .
All I want to know is if Obama really thought he could talk Putin into giving Snowden back to the US? Was he putting on a public show, or possibly delusional?

With all the high profile Russian defectors the US has flaunted after giving them sanctuary throughout the cold war, Russia just had the best smirk opportunity in a decade or more....

Putin......"we're thinking about it"........."well......., NO"!

He just received an even worse punishment -- he allegedly wants to undergo a sex change operation and become a woman. His cellmate might be in heaven. LOL
Yeah well, first he was leaking from the mouth. Next he might be leaking from a much darker, danker place...

As a passing note; it's probably a bad idea to seek out a sex change in prison. The OR's are horrible, and they have to sneak the surgical tools out of the metal shop....:eek: (Not to mention the places they have to be hidden to get them out of metal shop).

1 person liked this | Guest said:

There are many opinions to this I see. I don't really care that a government especially Americas, has this happen to them.

IF America is just randomly wiping areas out or just basically F-ing up operations and ignoring the fact they suck, then yes they need pointing at with the dirty finger of disgust.

But if Manning as someone rightly pointed at, then decided he was so upset and released 700,000 documents that he knew not of what was on it, sensitive information that could possibly jeopardize lives of others then, maybe he does deserve more than the slap on the wrist.

Every country and its government is corrupt. America is just considered the worst because it does such an Imperial stomping, and assassinated many leaders of countries, that it put there in the first place. But they all do it. The rich make the rules, the governments impose them, and we tow the line or deal with consequences.

I was thinking the other day, its funny, you have the rich and the politicians, living the easy life, cheating the law at every turn. And they fear a revolution. Or they would, if they hadn't paid the poor to become police officers, to keep the rest of the poor in line so there was no civil unrest.

How is it, there are people out there, who think these ******, who run our countries into economic despair, into war, raise taxes, take our privacy, take our freedoms, how is it these people protect and serve them, when there needs to be a revolution.

But I am probably wrong and if anyone actually read that they will say im wrong in one of the following posts.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

There are many opinions to this I see. I don't really care that a government especially Americas, has this happen to them.

IF America is just randomly wiping areas out or just basically F-ing up operations and ignoring the fact they suck, then yes they need pointing at with the dirty finger of disgust.

But if Manning as someone rightly pointed at, then decided he was so upset and released 700,000 documents that he knew not of what was on it, sensitive information that could possibly jeopardize lives of others then, maybe he does deserve more than the slap on the wrist.

Every country and its government is corrupt. America is just considered the worst because it does such an Imperial stomping, and assassinated many leaders of countries, that it put there in the first place. But they all do it. The rich make the rules, the governments impose them, and we tow the line or deal with consequences.

I was thinking the other day, its funny, you have the rich and the politicians, living the easy life, cheating the law at every turn. And they fear a revolution. Or they would, if they hadn't paid the poor to become police officers, to keep the rest of the poor in line so there was no civil unrest.

How is it, there are people out there, who think these *****s, who run our countries into economic despair, into war, raise taxes, take our privacy, take our freedoms, how is it these people protect and serve them, when there needs to be a revolution.

But I am probably wrong and if anyone actually read that they will say im wrong in one of the following posts.

Well this just does it for me! I'm going right to my cable company and ask them if they have the "Al-Queda Channel"!

Maybe I can get a premium package with the Al Queda Channel, along with the Al-Jeezera network.

Although I feel obligated to mention that I don't think the American government is out to subjugate or harm its citizens, just pick their pockets.....we're under siege from a bunch of capitalists dammit! (But in reality they're just a bunch of pussies). Now see boys and girls, America proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, the pen is mightier than the sword! Just sign on the dotted line, you can have all the glorious indentured servitude your greedy little, self serving, heart desires.

And now a shout out to Google. They track your every move, down to the tiniest keystroke. But you know what, Google's heart is in the right place. They don't care who you blow up, maim, or kill, all they care about is your buying habits..

A grand idea just came to me. I think the Statue of Liberty should be updated. Take away that obsolete, ghastly touch, and put a credit card in her hand.

And the new inscription that should greet visitors from far and wide to Ellis island, that's easy:

"What's in Your Wallet"?

learninmypc learninmypc said:

Well this just does it for me! I'm going right to my cable company and ask them if they have the "Al-Queda Channel"!

Maybe I can get a premium package with the Al Queda Channel, along with the Al-Jeezera network.

?

I don't know about the Al-Queda Channel, but you can go here http://america.aljazeera.com/tools/about.html & enter your zip code to see if you can watch it in your area.

1 person liked this | Night Hacker Night Hacker said:

There is one problem right there!

How is that a problem? You know about this when you join the military. You swear an oath, one which he broke. He needs to be thankful that he got off with just a jail sentence and not a firing squad.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

How is that a problem? You know about this when you join the military. You swear an oath, one which he broke. He needs to be thankful that he got off with just a jail sentence and not a firing squad.
You should not be asked to give up your rights, if you are fighting to protect them. We did not fight for our rights by ignoring we wanted them. And we will not keep our rights by ignoring we have them. The problem is the fact that any citizen would sign their rights away, even if it is to serve. Anyone who signs their rights away are no longer free and will never fight for freedom, unless they are willing to be classified as a traitor.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

How is that a problem? You know about this when you join the military. You swear an oath, one which he broke. He needs to be thankful that he got off with just a jail sentence and not a firing squad.

Yes he broke an oath. He is getting punished for that. On the other hand, the military were committing atrocities and morally questionable tasks on a day to day basis without checks of balances via "law" and "codes".

What is worse? Whistleblowers who break oaths or law makers who justify killing, violating human rights and hiding it via legislation? There was no transparency in what they were doing so they were able to do things that the public would not want them to do. Manning did a service for people who believe in human rights and stand against abuse of power.

There's a reason the USA has a constitution that is supposed to protect rights like freedom of speech and right to bear arms. It's because of abuse of power by people in power.

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