Patrick Semansky, Associated Press
After an almost three-year-long saga, Bradley Manning, accused of the largest information leak in U.S. history, was sentenced to 35 years in prison yesterday morning. Being instrumental in starting the information leaks suffered by the U.S. government recently, Manning is a hero to some and a villain to others. As such, his sentencing has brought out a lot of heated opinions.
“Assuming that Manning is released on parole after a reasonable time, the sentence imposed by Col. Denise Lind strikes a reasonable balance between the damage Manning did to national security and the service he performed by exposing certain matters to public attention,” writes the L.A. Times editorial board, believing that Manning should suffer the consequences of breaking the law, but considering his act good in the long run and thus not deserving of too strict a sentencing. “Manning should face some consequences for violating the law. But if Manning is denied parole after serving several years in prison, a future president should be willing to consider clemency.”
But from there, the list of people who think Manning’s sentence was justified quickly diminishes.
“Manning was sentenced to 35 years, but should have been sentenced to time served already: 3½ years, 112 days of which was improper pretrial detention, also known as torture. He suffered prolonged solitary confinement and was forced to be naked,” writes Jesselyn Radack and Kathleen McClellan — both human rights activists — on CNN. In short, they believe that Manning should be free as of this morning. “Although it was not the 60 years that the government asked for, Manning's 35-year sentence is still clearly intended to send a message for his conduct — conduct that provided the public with evidence of clear wrongdoing and did no harm to the United States. The wrongdoers whose crimes Manning exposed enjoyed far gentler fates.”
The New York Times editorial board calls Manning’s sentence “excessive,” saying that, “for a defense lawyer, a sentence of one-third the potential maximum is usually not a bad outcome. But from where we sit, it is still too much, given his stated desire not to betray his country but to encourage debate on American aims and shed light on the 'day to day' realities of the American war effort.”
And at the Washington Post, Dana Milbank reflects on how the case, more than anything, best represents the attitude in Washington when it comes to information and protecting it. “(W)hatever you think about Manning, his trial and his pretrial treatment exposed how zealous the national security state has been, even under this Democratic president. The tiny offender, little more than a boy, was initially held under 23-hour lockdown in a small cell and denied clothing. Coombs said his hundreds of military clients have included murderers and child molesters — ‘and those types of clients receive less time than Pfc. Manning.’”
As mentioned, Manning will be available for parole in as little as seven years, so his sentence may possibly be far shorter than 35 years. You can expect Bradley Manning to have a big impact on public discourse when it comes to national security for a long time.
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