Whew! Judge doesn’t seem to view Manning as a traitor

From CNN:

A military judge sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison — less than the 60 years prosecutors sought, as well as the 90 years he could have received — minus credit for the about three and a half years he’s already been behind bars. He showed little to no reaction when the judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, sentenced him at Fort Meade, outside Washington.

What do you think?

19 thoughts on “Whew! Judge doesn’t seem to view Manning as a traitor

  1. 35 years sounds like a lot, but given the charges that he has been convicted of, it’s not a bad deal. He is only 25 now, so he will still see the sun and have a few decades in freedom. Plus, the relatively (in light of the crimes committed and the punishment sought by the prosecution) light sentence makes it more likely that the sentence will be reduced or commuted at a later point in time.
    I am willing to bet he’ll be out before the 35 years will be up.

  2. He has apologized. He was more stupid than cunning, but the government is required to prosecute the biggest leak of classified information in the history of leaks and classified information.

    I thought his sentence was fair and that if he had the chance to do it over again, he would not have done it had he understood the ramifications of revealing the identities of Afghan and Iraqi persons who worked with the Coalition, NATO, or the U.S.

  3. I agree with Grammar. It is a fair sentence.

    Manning could have been a morally upright whistleblower had he revealed the “Collateral Murder” video and no more. But in releasing 200,000 diplomatic cables he both lost his moral credibility and any hope that the government would refrain from prosecuting him.

    As an American and an LGBT person myself, I find him something of an embarassment, although I do pity him.

  4. Re: LogicFan’s remarks–Had Manning only revealed “Collateral Murder,” we may have missed out on the following scoops: http://www.salon.com/2010/12/24/wikileaks_23/

    In light of the U.S. government’s punishment (and its mistreatment of Manning while awaiting trial), I would be surprised if there were not a chilling effect on investigative journalism in the U.S.

  5. I find my government to be an embarrassment, both in terms of its foreign policy and its punishment of people who expose that sociopathic policy to broader audiences.

  6. Much like Socrates, who gifted the Athenians by demonstrating that they were not living up to their (self)reputed greatness, Manning deserves to be pardoned and provided free meals for life (and the psychological care he needs) as public hero. We may, from our comfortable seats on the sidelines, quibble about the particulars of his choice, but the central fact is that he saw clear evidence of wrongdoing and had the courage to take action in the defense of the values that the U.S. (its government, its people, and its military) claims to stand for.

  7. I admire him and decry the vindictiveness with which his trial was conducted. The defense was prohibited from introducing anything about why he did what he did – and from showing that no-one was hurt as a result of the leaks (something which a prosecution witness attested to!). When torturers and war criminals in our government go free and a young person who acts idealistically to expose these wrongdoings is sent to prison, I feel sick to my stomach.

  8. Agree strongly with Simon Evnine, Derek, Anon #6, and Matt Drabek (though not with Matt Drabek’s decision to lose Holden Caulfield hat.)

    Some of the other comments…blech. I always regret angrily or sarcastically disagreeing with people online so I’ll just say nothing.

  9. My general working view is that essentially every sentence in the US is too long. (Compare, for a minute, this sentence to the 21 years that Breivik got in Norway for killing 77 people in cold blood for some of the worst reasons. I think Breivik got off much too lightly, but if you generally compare sentence in the US to those in other countries, it’s quite shocking how much longer we in the US send people to jail for.) So, it seems almost certain that this sentence is too long and too harsh _even if we think a significant criminal sentence is justified_. I don’t know enough to have a strong opinion as to what sentence, if any, was justified. But, I think we should start with the assumption that this was almost certainly too high, and go down from there.

  10. This verdict is a farce when you consider the catalog of American military crimes that go unpunished, not to mention uninvestigated. A key release of Manning’s – the video showing the US helicopter-attack in New Baghdad that resulted in the unprovoked killings of over a dozen people (including two Reuters employees) is the real crime – one of many.

    None of the cowboys responsible for that butchery have been charged. According to US soldier Ethan McCord who spoke out publicly at a later date: “If this video disgusts you it should… it happened daily in Iraq.” McCord was present at the scene and discovered two critically wounded children in the bullet riddled van – a four year-old girl and a seven year-old boy.

    Manning did the right thing and joins the ranks of others who are paying a steep price.

  11. Matt: just for the record, Breivik is in preventive detention and will almost certainly spend the rest of his life in prison (the detention will be reviewed 21 years after the sentencing and subsequent to that once every five years to determine whether he remains dangerous). I don’t think he got off to lightly. What more do you want us to do–kill him? Sorry, but we don’t have the death penalty.

  12. Sorry, I should have used a pseudonym that makes it clear that I’m Norwegian. I’m Anonymous from above. Accidentally typed my pseudonym into the wrong field…

  13. And what do I think of the Bradley Manning sentence? I don’t know the American legal system well enough to say whether the sentence was appropriate whether the framework of the law–obviously he committed a crime and had to be sentenced to something–that’s the rule of law.

    But having said that, here’s what should happen next. He should be pardoned immediately and released so he can come here to receive the Nobel Peace Prize he so richly deserves. I think that is the sentiment of every Norwegian philosopher I know and probably the majority of Norwegians.

  14. Norwegian Philosopher- no, I oppose the death penalty. But, I also think that sentences should be proportional to the wrongful harm caused, and it seems obvious that 21 years is not close to that. That Breivik is unlikely to be released is, in some way, good, but not really sufficient. First, perhaps he will be released. It will, I suspect, depend on political climate as much as anything. But, I also am extremely wary of using “dangerousness” as a reason to detain people. It almost always leads to injustice and is a step away from the rule of law. It allows people to think they are humane, while often imposing significantly harsher sentences than desert would require, for example. This is just one problem with such an approach. (Some of my views on the matter can be seen in this recent co-authored paper, though I should say that, as a co-author, I don’t agree with every point with the main authors- Empirical Desert, Individual Prevention, and Limiting Retributivism: A Reply, available here:
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2312655 ) So, I’d say that the response to Breivik is clearly insufficient and unjust. But, what does that tell us about Manning? Not much, except to highlight the way that sentences in the US are typically massively longer than in the rest of the world, and that ought to make people in the US skeptical that we’re getting things right. I might add that I’m also generally skeptical of pardons. I’d have to go carefully into the details of what Manning did to know what the right sentence (if any- I’m open to the idea that a justification defense should have been applicable in his case) was right, but I’d be very , very surprised if the right sentence was anywhere close to 36 years.

  15. Matt, I disagree, although it may be that our disagreement is just due to your not being familiar with the way the law works here (it may also be due to my not having encountered the arguments in your coauthored paper). Let me make clear that Breivik was *not* given a sentence of 21 years. He was given our version of the life sentence is preventive detention. It’s reviewed periodically, and can be ended upon review if the prisoner is deemed not likely to reoffend. If you’re opposed to that, I guess you must also be opposed to the U.S. system of parole, which is essentially the same thing. One is a step away from the rule of law if and only if the other is.

    I’ll read the paper you linked, though–it’s possible that I’ll come to different conclusions after I’ve read it!

  16. Hi ANP- no need to read the whole paper if it doesn’t intrinsically appeal to you- it’s long and addressed to a specific set of misunderstandings of a particular view.

    I am certainly imperfectly familiar w/ the law in Norway. But, I’d stay that preventive detention is almost always unjust, and, at least in most societies, in fact a political decision largely disconnected with actual dangerousness. (This almost has to be true, as we are not very good at determining dangerousness.) I’d claim that sentences should be proportional to wrongfulness, and that doesn’t at all sound like what was done there. It’s worth noting that indeterminate sentencing has been greatly reduced in the US- sometimes for bad reasons, but sometimes for good ones, namely, that they tended pretty clearly to lead to unjust outcomes. (If the Norwegian system was in fact like parole in the US, that is no argument in favor of the Norwegian system, as parole in the US is quite a bad system. It is also only partially connected with dangerousness, though. It does generally tend to fail to meet rule of law requirements.) But, this is leading us somewhat away from the issue of the post, so I’ll stop there, except to reiterate my view that in general sentences in the US are too long, often much too long, and the fact that the US punishes much more harshly than the rest of the world is a bit of evidence for this, and that this ought to make us take our default position to be that the particular sentence in this case is almost certainly too long, no matter what else we think about the case.

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