Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years for giving classified documents to Wikileaks

08/21/13 Janelle Irwin
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U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for releases hundreds of thousands of classified military documents. During a press conference after the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Manning’s defense attorney, David Coombs said he and other supporters are asking President Obama to grant a pardon, but if that doesn’t work, there are still other ways to get Manning out before he’s eligible for parole.

“Well, to get attention to what’s happened here, I will be submitting post-trial matters for him to the Convening Authority and that is a time in which his sentence could be reduced – the Convening Authority has the power to do that. After that then I will represent him for future parole and clemency issues. Hopefully the president does the right thing and those are ruled out as options because he pardons him or he releases him with time served.”

The White House has said they will consider a pardon through the clemency process as they would with any other case. Bradley Manning was convicted on 20 charges related to releasing classified documents to Wikileaks, but he was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy. Coombs read a statement written by his client.

“The decisions 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 have been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on a traditional battle field. 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 our efforts to meet the risks posed to us by the enemy, we had forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue life both in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Manning had faced a 90 year sentence, but even though he did not receive the maximum, supporters wanted him released based on time already served. Nathan Schwartz is a member of Occupy Tampa.

“I feel that it’s extremely unfair given that Mr. Manning tried to go through proper avenues to report this to his superiors and what not and it was basically hidden and swept under the rug.

But the judge who sentenced Manning did give him credit for time served that will knock about three years off the sentence. Under the law, Manning must serve ten years of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole, but the time served credit takes that down to seven. Occupy Tampa’s Thai Huu said that’s still not enough.

“He still didn’t get a speedy trial and these war criminals are still out free for killing civilians and reports and the like and meanwhile we’re making an example of Bradley Manning who just told the truth. You know?”

Despite strong support from groups throughout the world, there are still many who agree with the judge’s sentencing of Bradley Manning. Gabriel Schoenfeld is the author of the book dealing with national security information leaks called Necessary Secrets.

“Well, I think it’s a tragedy for Bradley Manning, but it’s a tragedy he brought upon himself by engaging in the largest leak in American History of classified materials. So, I think it’s appropriate that he get a sentence which will deter other leakers from doing the same thing – something that really damaged out foreign policy and our standing in the world.”

Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg called Bradley Manning "one more casualty of a horrible, wrongful war." And Wikileak’s founder Julian Assange said "the only just outcome" is Manning's unconditional release and compensation for his treatment in a military prison before his trial. In an interview with AP, military law expert Sterling DeRamus said he's surprised the judge gave Manning such a long prison term.

Despite outrage over the 35 year sentencing of Manning, Nathan Fuller, a writer for the Bradley Manning Support Network, isn’t surprised.

“Denise Lind has sided with the government throughout this case, overlooking the significant injustices – namely Bradley’s torture before the trial. He was held in solitary confinement - which scholars and doctors call ‘psychological torture’ - for more than 9 months and she only awarded 112 days off of his eventual sentence as credit and that’s a real sign that she’s letting the military off the hook.”

Fuller said the Bradley Manning Support Network, which has installments all over the country including Tampa, will continue to work toward Manning’s release. If Manning is not pardoned or his sentence shortened, he will be eligible for parole in 7 years. A spokesperson for U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base declined to comment on the sentencing and the United States Army did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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I don't know about this Chelsea Manning business... as Austin Powers would say, He's a MAN, BABY! I don't think we as taxpayers should be paying for Manning's hormone therapy or whatever he wants.