The Army soldier who leaked more than 700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and diplomatic cables while working as an intelligence analyst was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in prison.
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, 25, who gave reams of classified information to WikiLeaks, faced up to 90 years in prison. He was credited with 1,294 days already served and was and be dishonorably discharged. He could be eligible for parole before he reaches the age of 40.
Flanked by his lawyers, Manning, 25, stood at attention and appeared not to react when military judge Col. Denise Lind announced the punishment without explanation during a brief hearing.
Among the spectators, there was a gasp, and one woman put her hands up, covering her face.
The former intelligence analyst was found guilty last month of 20 crimes, including six violations of the Espionage Act, as part of the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on media leaks.
But the judge acquitted him of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, an offense that could have meant life in prison without parole.
Prosecutors asked for at least a 60-year prison term. Capt. Joe Morrow said in his closing argument Monday that a long prison sentence would dissuade other soldiers from following in Manning’s footsteps.
The defense has suggested a prison term of no more than 25 years, so that Manning, 25, could rebuild his life. Defense attorney David Coombs asked for a sentence that “doesn’t rob him of his youth.”
Well the loony left has a new martyr. Bradley Manning is their hero. He’s also probably gonna be locked up for a long time. I’m not upset or elated. I believe justice was served.
First of all, there is no question of his guilt – he confessed to many of the charges. He cannot claim ignorance of the law nor ignorance of the nature of the information that he gave to Wikileaks. He knew what he was doing.
He received due process of law. He waived trial by jury and accepted a bench trial instead. He had the opportunity to challenge the prosecution’s witnesses and evidence, and to present witnesses and evidence on his own behalf. He had the opportunity to offer evidence in mitigation and/or extenuation.
I probably would have given him less time, but many others think he deserves an even harsher punishment. Some think he deserves execution. We can debate what the law should be, but the courts are supposed to apply the law as it is written.
The laws that Bradley Manning broke do not contain any exceptions for good intentions. His motives are irrelevant to his guilt, although they could (and probably did) mitigate the severity of his punishment.
His due process has not ended. He can still appeal, and he can hope for executive clemency or pardon. I doubt he’ll receive a pardon, although it would not surprise me if at some future date he receives clemency in the form of a reduced sentence.
I feel pity for Bradley Manning. He is young and dumb and he is paying a high price for what he did. He could have gotten a lighter sentence for murder. But like Robert Blake used to say, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”