The 35-year sentence given Pfc. Bradley Manning – he could be out in 10 years – for the largest leak of classified information in US history reflects the complexity of the case, including harm to national security and how the Army dealt with his problems.
The prison sentence given Army Pfc. Bradley Manning for the largest leak of classified information in US history – 35 years – is more than his defense team had recommended (25 years) but far less than the 60 years prosecutors had asked for or the 90 years he might have received given the seriousness of his crimes.
It reflects the complexity of the case, regarding on the one hand the extent to which Manning, who provided some 750,000 classified items to the controversial whistleblower organization WikiLeaks, actually harmed US national security and diplomatic interests, and on the other, the US military’s failure to deal with the young soldier’s mental and emotional problems, which several uniformed supervisors recognized but failed to address.
Still, the punishment announced Wednesday morning by military judge Col. Denise Lind for the 25-year-old intelligence analyst is serious.
He will be dishonorably discharged, reduced in rank to private, and be made to forfeit all military pay and benefits. With credit for some three-and-a-half years already in custody (including 112 days of what Col. Lind found to be mistreatment in the military brig at Quantico. Va.) Manning could be eligible for release in about 10 years.
Manning was convicted of 20 of the 22 charges against him, including six violations of the Espionage Act, computer fraud, and five counts of theft. Prosecutors had sought conviction on aiding the enemy, but Lind ruled that there had not been enough evidence that Manning intended to do that in releasing battlefield reports known as war logs, diplomatic cables, and a video showing civilian men (including two Reuters news agency journalists) being killed in a US helicopter attack in Iraq.