August 18, 2022

Bradley Manning Sentenced to 35 years for Leaking Classified Documents

On August 20, 2013, Army judge Coronel Denise R. Lind sentenced private Bradley Manning, age 25, to 35 years in prison for providing more than 700,000 government classified files to WikiLeaks, a website that publishes government and corporate secrets from the United States and other countries. The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, in a statement said that the sentence was a “significant tactical victory” since Manning could have been sentenced to many more years in prison.

bradley manningThe founder of WikiLeaks added that the “only just outcome in Mr. Manning´s case is his unconditional release.” A couple of years ago, Assange moved to the London embassy of Ecuador to avoid being extradited to Sweden. The United Kingdom was about to send Assange to Sweden, where he is accused of committing crimes, when he looked for asylum in the embassy of Ecuador in the United Kingdom. Ecuador is a country that has no freedom of the press and has a Marxist president, Rafael Correa, who is assuming increasingly more dictatorial powers. President Correa has aligned Ecuador with the ALBA socialist countries of Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. President Correa is profoundly anti-American and also wanted to give asylum to the NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who now lives in Russia.

The sentence issued by Coronel Lind to Bradley Manning, in addition to 35 years in prison, included a dishonorable discharge and a reduction in rank from private first class to private, the lowest rank in the military. Manning will be eligible for parole in about seven years. The documents and materials that Private First Class Manning gave to WikiLeaks were downloaded classified materials to which he had access as an Army intelligence analyst while serving in Iraq in 2010. The classified information included a video taken during an American Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 in which civilians were killed, including two reporters. He also gave WikiLeaks some 250,000 diplomatic cables, files of terrorists kept in GuantĂĄnamo US naval base in Cuba, and hundreds of thousands of incident reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Michael Doyle wrote an article entitled “Manning: 35 years for secrets leak” which was published in The Miami Herald on August 22, 2013. Doyle wrote that Army Captain Joseph Morrow, one of the prosecutors, stated the following: “Manning created a great risk of harm to national security due to the volume of information he disclosed… and he endangered the well-being of innocent civilians and soldiers.” The reporter explained that Army judge Coronel Lind heard testimony from witnesses in both close and open court sessions. The military and the State Department witnesses emphasized the damage done by Manning to our nation. Army Brigadier General Robert Carr, who served with the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified during the trial the following: “When this data got out, there was a number of foreign partners that were routinely engaged with me who became greatly concerned whether we were still a trusted partner.”

When private Manning left the courtroom, some of his half a dozen supporters shouted “you are a hero”. However, Bradley Manning is no hero. He is a traitor to his country and his actions damaged our national security.

During Bradley Manning´s court-martial his defense lawyer brought up his gender identity struggle. A photo of the soldier with the blond wig and lipstick was submitted as evidence. The day after his sentencing Manning wrote a statement in which he said the following: “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.” The convicted soldier signed his statement as Chelsea Manning.

Manning’s defense attorney, David Coombs, told NBC´s Today show that he hoped that officials at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas will agree to provide hormone treatments to his client. An Army spokesman quickly responded that the Army does not provide such treatment for sex reassignment surgery to the prisoners.

David Dishneau and Pauline Jelinek wrote an article entitled “Call me Chelsea: Manning wants to live as a woman” which was published in The Miami Herald on August 23, 2013. The reporters wrote that Greg Rinckey, a former Army prosecutor and now a lawyer, said that Manning’s statement could be exploited to get him transferred to a civilian prison. Rinckey said the following: “He might be angling to go there because he believes life at a federal prison could be easier than life at the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth.”

However, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has a policy implemented last year that requires federal prisons to develop treatment plans, including hormone treatment if necessary, for prisoners diagnosed with a gender identity disorder. Manning´s defense lawyer has stated that he would do everything in his power to make sure Manning gets the hormone treatments which typically involves high doses of estrogen to increase breast development and other female characteristics.

The reporters explained that a lawsuit could be filed in the future. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, and other advocates for gays, bisexuals, and transgender people have said that Manning deserves such treatment.

This writer´s opinion is that the sentence was too lenient. After all, Manning´s leaks of classified information was the greatest leak in history and also the broadest in scope since they included diplomatic, military, and other records. The Army judge should have sentenced him to 90 years in prison and levy the $100,000 fine requested by the prosecution. Coronel Lind found Manning guilty of six counts of violating the Espionage Act, but acquitted him of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy. Of course, Manning aided the enemy, who learned many of our military secrets and scared allied nations sharing secrets with our country since we do not seem to be able to keep them safe. Traitors like Manning ought to be punished severely to prevent other future traitors from leaking information that will harm our nation.

This writer also believes that it is an outrage that taxpayers have to pay for hormone treatments or for sex change operations for inmates at federal prisons. It is very expensive for taxpayers to keep people in jail. In fact, it is cheaper to send them to an Ivy League university. It is absolutely incredible that the federal prisons have such policy. Where is our nation heading?

In regards to Manning, he should have resigned from the U.S. Army, not disclosed classified documents or become a traitor. And if he wanted to become a woman, Manning should  paid for his own hormone treatments or sex change operation.