Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Manning Not "Not Guilty"

The hooplah celebration, and spin is on over Bradley Manning's acquittal.

Bradley Manning was acquitted of the highest offense he was tried for allegedly committing. However, out of the 21 total charges, he was found guilty of 19.

Of those 19 charges, Manning entered a plea deal on a significant number of them. That deal was to avoid the death penalty, among other concessions. He is facing 20 years in prison for those offenses alone.

Of the other charges involved in his court martial, Manning was found guilty of five counts of espionage. That means he intentionally leaked US classified information to those the information from whom the information was meant to be kept.

Manning's supporters claim that those it was meant to be secreted from happened to be US Citizens. That is not true. It was meant to be kept from several foreign powers.

The charge of which Manning was acquitted was intentionally providing that documentation to the enemy, Al Q'aeda. The prosecution had to stretch a little to make that case, and fell short, rightfully so. Manning may have known there was a high probability that the documentation posted at WikiLeaks would end up in terrorist's hands. However, he did not provide the documentation to Julian Assange with the intent of funneling it to terrorist groups. That was his saving grace on that charge.

However, he did commit espionage against the US. He is as guilty of that crime (five times over) as Robert Hanseen and Aldrich Ames.  Hanssen and Ames both served in much higher level posts within the FBI and CIA than Manning did in the US Army. Both, deservedly, received sentences of life in prison without eligibility of parole.

Assange claims that the verdict sets a "dangerous precedent". It is not a precedent, though.  Christopher "The Falcon" Boyce and his co-conspirator Andrew "Snowman" Lee committed similar offenses. Boyce allegedly committed his espionage for "altruistic", "social justice" reasons. Boyce was sentenced to 40 years, paroled at 25 years. He will remain on parole until 2046, unless he violates and is re-incarcerated. Andrew Daulton "Snowman" Lee was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the espionage as well as drug trafficking (notably that of cocaine and heroin). He was paroled in 1998.

For the combined 19 charges Manning is guilty of committing, he faces a possible 136 years. Though not a "life sentence", it aggregates to approximately 80 years more than his average life expectancy. The chance of parole is still an option. However, Manning is likely to be an old man, in his 50s at the earliest, should he ever receive parole.

The military judge may order some of the sentences to run concurrent. Even then, Manning faces a very long sentence. The young man threw his life away. He violated his oath of enlistment and the public trust of the citizens of the US. While time may lead to forgiveness, his sins are likely to not be forgotten anytime soon.