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back to article Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison

A military judge has sentenced US Army Private Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking classified material to Wikileaks. He was also dishonourably discharged from the Army, busted from private first class to private and will forfeit all pay and allowances. Manning has built up credit of three and a half years of pre- …

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Poor guy

Parole in 11 years? He'll be found hung in his cell within 11 weeks

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Re: Poor guy

> He'll be found hung in his cell within 11 weeks

He has been locked up for quite a while already. in some horrific conditions.

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Unhappy

Re: Poor guy

I don't think he's going to be at too much risk from himself. He'll be at risk from the other inmates who will consider him a traitor. I genuinely hope nothing happens to him and he doesn't have to spend his time in solitary.

This whole thing sucks.

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Re: Poor guy

I was thinking more the type of person he's likely to encounter in the inevitable super max prison would drive any normal person to the edge

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Thumb Up

@Don Jefe "this whole thing sucks."

I agree.

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Headmaster

Re: Poor guy

>He'll be found hung in his cell within 11 weeks

it's hanged. Meat is hung, people are hanged

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Re: Poor guy

Once they're dead, people become meat.

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Happy

Re: Poor guy

Once they're dead, people become meat.

chr0mAt1c,

About that invitation you sent me for dinner tonight, I'm afraid I'm busy...

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Re: Poor guy

Agreed, this whole thing does suck.

But from what I've seen of American max security prisons on TV documentaries, if I went to one I would WANT to spend my whole time in solitary.

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Coat

Re: Poor guy @ Sooty

Nah mate, I am definitley hung, its my one redeeming feature ;)

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Happy

Re: Poor guy

But Spartacus- you were the main course...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Poor guy

Fava beans and Chianti again?

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Re: Poor guy

And what a poor country?

What a contrast with the fate of the USS Vincennes' captain who ordered to down the civilian Iranian aircraft full of people in 1988? While he was going against the Martial Code of Conduct ( not the first time), being disloyal to his higher commanders that day, in particular, having his crew make a few blunders to disregard important protocol of communication, got awarded instead.

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Unhappy

Re: Poor guy

This is too near the knuckle for words.

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Re: Poor guy

"He'll be at risk from the other inmates who will consider him a traitor. "

Worse, really: If in military prison he'll be considered a traitor by pretty much everyone: inmates and guards.

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Pint

Re: Poor guy

"Once they're dead, people become meat."

No; they become cadavers. They only become meat if you like collecting strange brain diseases.

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Re: Poor guy @ Sooty

>Nah mate, I am definitley hung, its my one redeeming feature ;)

I did clarify that meat is hung ;)

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Re: Poor guy

>t's hanged. Meat is hung, people are hanged

Speak for yourself, mate.

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Re: Poor guy @ I ain't Spartacus

Ever read "Lamb Amirstan"? Short Story - don't remember the writer!

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Unhappy

No....

The world was watching you, America, and you've shown how contemptible you truly are.

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Re: No....

Being fair, 35 years (33 after the reduction) from 90 is actually not to bad. He will get out of prison in his life time this way!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No....

What would have the preferred punishment have been? Surely you're not suggesting that leaking classified documents should not be punished.

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Re: No....

You can't say that leaking classified documents is always wrong. There have to be times when leaking classified documents is right.....for instance when containing evidence of grievous crimes. After all, many of these documents were only classified in the first place to hide the wholesale breaking of laws, the Geneva convention etc. going on, so making it impossible to reveal classified documents for any reason just gives them a simple and easy way of hiding crimes.

I agree that classified documents should not be leaked for fun or when the crimes revealed are pretty trivial, but this definitely wasn't the case here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No....

35 - 3.5 (credit) = 33 ??

An example of American maths ? or "math" perhaps.

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Re: No....

I don't think Americans are really aware of a world beyond their borders.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: aware of world beyond their borders

well only 30% have passports

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Re: No....

My personal take on those documents were that he overreached. I think he intended to be a whistleblower and leak evidence about troops killing and torturing citizens. Thats laudible, thats exactly what he should have done and he should not have been punished for that. Leaking classified communications from diplomats about unrelated issues was not ok (although fairly harmless, just caused blushes). The bigger problem is that the US has not punished him for the latter alone but seemingly everything. He should not have been punished in the slightest for releasing footage showing troops killing unarmed people. For releasing a memo that we think the current ruler of tinpotia is a loon with no cause is probably slap on the wrist territory if not community service.

I do wonder how much he was 'egged on' by Assange to take anything and everything he could get his hands on. Manning actually seemed to be genuine in his desire to show the world a wrong but I find it hard to allign that with releasing so many unrelated documents. Snowdon just seems to have leaked documents pertaining to what he wanted to expose as a wrong which seems more in line with whistleblowing. He certainly doesn't deserve 30 years in the slammer.

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Black Helicopters

Re: No.... @Mad Mike

Well, thats kind of the rub here. The argument was that he just took a bunch documents and didn't really know what was all in them. Hence, not a whistleblower and not offered the protections of being considered such. This is semi-believable given the huge volume of documents that were leaked. However, how do you know what to leak without at least looking at some of it?

Regardless, I think it could have gone far worse for him. The other side of that coin is if he would have been executed it would have probably caused more dissent among the American public and ultimately led to a more meaningful change in how things are done. This would have probably been the better result for America as a country, but obviously much worse for this kid.

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Unhappy

Re: No....

"I don't think Americans are really aware of a world beyond their borders."

Many are not.

This is a country 6 time zones (IIRC) wide.

Despite speaking a version of English their world view is more like that of an Indian or Chinese person.

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@AC 14:48

"Surely you're not suggesting that leaking classified documents should not be punished."

Perhaps you should ask the questions "Why did Bradley Manning feel the need to leak documents? Why couldn't he report the crimes he had evidence of to a superior and expect justice to be done?"

What would YOU have done in Bradley's situation? Kept quiet? Leaked the documents anonymously? Tell your boss?

I sincerely hope you don't think that telling the boss would have led to justice being done so that leaves which options?

Manning may well look back at what he did as a serious error of judgement but can any of us seriously question his motives? There shouldn't even have BEEN anything for him to leak.

Given that he might have expected to be caught and punished for doing what he appears to believe was the right thing, that makes Bradley Manning a far braver soul than I.

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Re: No....

Close :-) 7 zones if you include Midway on Samoa time.

More if you include their colony 20 miles off the coast of France ;-) Then there is the amusing daylight savings situation where not everyone observes the change, even within the same state although I'm not sure that entirely counts as a different time zone in the UTC sense.

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Re: No....

Let me take my stance on this, I am on the fence. Sure he stole material and released it for whatever his reasons may be this is espionage and theft HOWEVER, it was also the act of a whistleblower showing the wrong doings of the government. A tricky situation indeed, He should serve however the credit for what he has already endured should be much higher.

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Re: No....

@Rampant Spaniel "I do wonder how much he was 'egged on' by Assange to take anything and everything he could get his hands on"

Agreed, to the extent that wikileaks is complicit in the depth of trouble Manning has ended up in.

Wikileaks HAD THE OPTION to conduct due diligence on content prior to publishing it. Wikileaks did not need to release the 700,000 documents, they simply chose the easy option of publishing everything instead of doing the legwork to find the important TRUE whistleblowing amongst the chaff of embarrassment.

I've been critical of Manning for this, and it remains my stance - if he was a true whistleblower then the volume of documents would be a tiny fraction of those released. To core dump everything was asking for trouble (and for that I really blame wikileaks laziness, since I fully support the concept of wikileaks).

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FAIL

Re: @AC 14:48

mad-dr

At last a reasonably balanced entry. My concerns are complex. Elsewhere there have been comments suggesting that the chap had a range of issues prior to this major incident. This appears to be supported by the fact that he went trawling through spaces that were not his to trawl. Developing a messiah complex might also suggest a balance of mind issue.

Should he have had the position he had - No.

Should someone face dereliction charges for misplacing him - Yes.

Was he properly managed? No - so those who failed him as he failed them should also face odium.

However simple it appeared to a shallow first look, the case does raise challenging issues, few if any have been considered by the case.

As for the sentence, he deserved something, I am just not sure what, was it treatment to help to sort himself out? Was it punishment for screwing up?

In some ways he is a metaphor for what appears to be very wrong in some of the forces. Under evaluated, under managed, under supervised and as a result prone to make errors, sometimes misjudgements, some times much more egregious commissions of crimes. The later spoil things for everyone and they need to be excised. Where did Manning fall in this spectrum? I am still no more clear. Does he/will he need treatment? Yes I suspect he does/will do. His mental state appears at best confused now; without help it is unlikely to improve. Should he be imprisoned, probably yes, if only because he signed up for one thing and strayed far from his remit, for how long is another question. Should he receive some sentence rebate based on a disturbed mental state, I think he should.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No....

It's my recollection that Wikileaks asked the US government to help them go through the documents and redact any which might be genuinely harmful, and they refused. They then worked with the NYT (or the Washington Post?) and the Guardian to do the same, and it was the Guardian who eventually fired it all out. Plus the US has subsequently admitted that nobody has been harmed by any of it.

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Re: No....

You can't say that leaking classified documents is always wrong. There have to be times when leaking classified documents is right.....for instance when containing evidence of grievous crimes. After all, many of these documents were only classified in the first place to hide the wholesale breaking of laws, the Geneva convention etc. going on, so making it impossible to reveal classified documents for any reason just gives them a simple and easy way of hiding crimes.

I expect the judge may have agreed with you, if that is what he leaked. He didn't do this, he leaked as much of everything that he could, and trusted Assange to filter out what is sensitive, like names of translators working for the military, from what is 'newsworthy', like video of civilians being massacred.

Manning's job for his country was to protect that sensitive information from being disclosed, which he really failed at.

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Re: No....

'Leaking classified documents' which prove war crimes should be rewarded, not punished.

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FAIL

Re: AC Re: aware of world beyond their borders

"well only 30% have passports" Actually, the figure is closer to 34% (of people over the age of eighteen), but has been rising over the last decade or so. It is often directly compared to Canada, where the figure is 41%, but as Potty will agree that's more because so many Canadians are desperate to go to the States to get jobs (LOL, wait for the shrieks about that one!).

But, if you had been to the States, you would realise it is such a massive country, with so many varied locations from prairies through forest-clad mountains to deserts and tropical beaches, that travel abroad really is largely unnecessary. Oh, and before you whitter some rubbish about travelling to experience "culture", the majority of European cities are cookie-cutter reproductions of glass and concrete, with their "culture" repressed by PC insistance that foreigners' cultures should be "honoured" above out own (except in Fwance, where they're so paranoid they spit if you try talking English). Anyone expecting English culture in London, or German culture in Berlin, or even Italian culture in Rome, is going to be disappointed. Whilst the majority of people in the UK need a passport to go on a vacation somewhere nice, the Yanks simply don't as they have so many more choices in their own lands.

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Boffin

Re: No....

You can't say that leaking classified documents is always wrong.

No, but you can say that it is always illegal. He's not going to jail for a moral wrong; he's going to jail for breaking the law.

The law is not a moral construct.

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Re: No....

quote: "What would have the preferred punishment have been? Surely you're not suggesting that leaking classified documents should not be punished."

You'll note that even if they let Mr. Manning walk right now, he has already served over 2 years in prison. 2 years in prison is considered enough punishment for many criminal offenses.

I would argue that he has already been punished, and that further punishment would need to be based on the belief that he has not yet been punished enough. Personally, I believe that he has already been punished enough, since his name is now forever tainted in the minds of many, and even letting him walk will mean an ongoing, tangible effect on the rest of his life. Would you employ Mr. Manning in a position of responsibility, knowing his history as you do? Would anyone you know employ him similarly? Will he be physically safe if recognised in public?

Add that on to his 35 years, and ask yourself if the punishment still fits the crime.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AC aware of world beyond their borders

> If you had been to the states ...

Been there, saw it. Found it a hollow shallow place. Left. Never been back.

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Re: AC aware of world beyond their borders

"Anyone expecting English culture in London, or German culture in Berlin, or even Italian culture in Rome, is going to be disappointed." - But mainly because they'll come to another country with grand expectations of what their culture "should" be.

As a fellow European I have visited various parts of Britain - including London a few times. In London I have had a traditional English Breakfast in a little shop. Had Sushi, gone to various pubs and celebrated Ale-festival (with ales from primarily Britain but other countries as well), seen "the sights", had fun in a park, had Chinese food, enjoyed some nice hospitality from mates there - including plenty of tea (in case you were worried), and lots of other stuff.

Now granted it was different to the B&B I stayed at in other parts Britain, but to say that it isn't English culture is, I think, a gross misrepresentation of what culture is. Just because it's not bowler-hats and umbrellas abound, doesn't mean it isn't English culture.

Reminds me of when a sports tournament was hosted in Denmark (Women's European Championship in Handball), and the audience was at times not on their best behaviour (I.E. Booing at Denmark's opponents). There was some (I think French) sports official who said that it wasn't Danish culture. I would probably say that the evidence suggests otherwise.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No....

"Wikileaks HAD THE OPTION to conduct due diligence on content prior to publishing it. Wikileaks did not need to release the 700,000 documents, they simply chose the easy option of publishing everything instead of doing the legwork to find the important TRUE whistleblowing amongst the chaff of embarrassment."

It is a common misconception that Manning leaked 700k documents indiscriminately, one invented by his detractors and one they are obviously none too eager to clear up.

Wikileaks and their media partners (NYT, Guardian, Spiegel) released small numbers of carefully chosen, heavily redacted cables.

Unfortunately all of the documents were eventually inadvertently leaked by a boneheaded Guardian reporter who published the password Wikileaks had given him in a book, assuming it was no longer valid.

If you want to be upset about indiscriminate leaking, then get upset at this reporter and maybe Wikileak's IT security. But not Bradley Manning.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradley_Manning#Disclosure_of_classified_material

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AC aware of world beyond their borders

Choices for Vacations?

1) Florida

2) Florida

3) Vegas

4) Florida

Most Americans I worked with in MA knew little of their country outside New England, Florida and Vegas.

For them the US was the lower 48 states. Most of it was a 'foreign' land and they were more likely to visit the Canucks and places like Alabama, Arkansas etc. On the quiz nights at our local Pub, I usually knew more about their country and history than they did.

Many of the folk in Burlington MA didn't even know that the Springfield Rifle and Indian Motorcycles were made just down the road from them.

When Maggie Thatcher resigned as PM, the local TV news spent 57mins inc adverts with stories of the National Guard being called up to barracks to replace the troops who were hearding to Gulf War 1. Mles of Yellow Ribbons and all that. The final item was a one liner stating that the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher had resigned.

That tells you an awful lot about how they view us foreigners or as the US Immigration call us 'Aliens'.

I've never met a more insular and inward looking nation as the USA.

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Re: No....

Borders? What borders? It's all "property of USA" as far as I can see, from left to right, top to bottom, up to where the sea plunges into the great abyss beyond the edges of the world...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 14:48

"At last a reasonably balanced entry. My concerns are complex. Elsewhere there have been comments suggesting that the chap had a range of issues prior to this major incident."

You've fallen into the establishment's intended trap. Their first rule of damage control for this sort of thing is to personally smear the person doing the damage. This was Nixon's plan with Watergate and its the government's plan for Manning, and you walked right into it.

Evaluate Manning for what he did (blew the whistle on war crimes and other violations of international law) and not whether or not he was gay, or lonely, etc. at the time. You don't discount the contributions of Nobel prize winners for physics based on whether they had "issues," so why Manning?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No....

"He didn't do this, he leaked as much of everything that he could, and trusted Assange to filter out what is sensitive, like names of translators working for the military, from what is 'newsworthy', like video of civilians being massacred."

And Assange did a fine job of it. Leaking everything was a colossal cock-up by a Guardian reporter.

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Re: No....

@Tom 38.

"I expect the judge may have agreed with you, if that is what he leaked. He didn't do this, he leaked as much of everything that he could, and trusted Assange to filter out what is sensitive, like names of translators working for the military, from what is 'newsworthy', like video of civilians being massacred.

Manning's job for his country was to protect that sensitive information from being disclosed, which he really failed at."

Don't get me wrong in this, I think Manning deserved something. Yes, he released more than he should have. I'm not sure if this was due to naivety or not really thinking. Maybe he expected others to do some of the checking and redacting as appropriate and they didn't do it.

Also, it may have been he had to grab everything and get it out quickly as he was likely to be detected and caught quite quickly. Maybe he didn't believe he had the time and chance to do the filtering, so got a lot out with the idea of him or others doing the filtering afterwards. After all, someone taking that amount of documents was likely to be found quickly, so taking time to filter may not have been an option.

As someone else has said, I think the problem is that they've tried him for everything rather than the more pragmatic, 'what was not in the public interest'. If they'd done that, I think people would have agreed much more. By trying him for everything, they've effectively said that evidence of war crimes must not be released if its classified regardless.

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Re: No....

@Steve Knox.

"No, but you can say that it is always illegal. He's not going to jail for a moral wrong; he's going to jail for breaking the law.

The law is not a moral construct."

There is a well known principle in law that you may break one law in order to prevent a greater crime. There have been numerous cases in the US on this very issue and it has been upheld.

So, the question is are war crimes a greater crime than disclosing classified documents. If the answer is yes, he is allowed to break the law in order to release them and a court will back this (as has happened before). If the answer is no, the US is effectively saying that war crimes aren't much of a crime!!

Also, if he should go to jail because what he did is illegal (regardless of morals), then you're saying people who release documents from companies (under whistleblower) are equally then liable for civil action by the company and should loose. The whistleblower notion is irrelevant as it's a breach of their contract, therefore opening them up to civil action.

I know there's a tendency to prosecute laws on the strict wording of it in a blind manner these days, but all laws are effectively based on some moral basis and as such, the law is effectively based on morals.

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