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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Manning Sentenced to 35 Years

As with the verdict I'll be covering closely (from a few hundred miles north).  Follow my co-author on our Manning book, Kevin Gosztola, @kgosztola.

11:30 Strong piece by John Cassidy at The New Yorker on the "draconian" sentence and history absolving Manning.  "In fifty years, people will look on the Manning case as another blot on a dark era for the United States and the values that it claims to hold dear. As for Manning himself, future historians will surely agree with Ellsberg, who, speaking to the A.P. yesterday, described him as 'one more casualty of a horrible, wrongful war.'”

8:00 p.m.  NYT editorial calls Manning sentence "excessive.... by any standard."  And adds:  "But the larger issue, which is not resolved by Private Manning’s sentencing, is the federal government’s addiction to secrecy and what it will do when faced with future leaks, an inevitability when 92 million documents are classified in a year and more than 4 million Americans have security clearance.  

4:30  Daniel Ellsberg responds.  Manning another victim of Iraq war. 

1:35   At press conference going on now, Manning attorney David Coombs says he will formally ask President Obama to pardon the soldier "or at the very least commute his sentence to time served."  Also reads statement from Manning: "We consciously elected to devalue human life in Iraq and Afghanistan."  Also Manning quotes Howard Zinn: "There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."  Amnesty Int'l also just made that "time served" request.

Coombs says he in Manning both "in tears" after sentencing but Manning cheered him up.  Reveals that early gov't plea deal called for sentence longer than 35 years--and Manning would have had to testify.  Coombs' advice to Edward Snowden: "Current environment isn't friendly to whistleblowers."

12:35  Michael Moore tweets:  "35 years. For being what an American is supposed to be. Shame."  Great Twitter storm after David Frum tweeted "shocker" that you'd get punished if you release national security secrets.  Many responded with such as "Shocker--murder civilians and not punished."  Or "Shocker--torture and no consequences."  Or: "Invade country with lies--no penalty."

11:25 Alex Gibney, director of the We Steal Secrets film, tweets:  "Outrageous sentence of Bradley Manning. terrible day for US. ...No prosecutions for torture sanctioned by US officials but Manning gets 35 years. Is that justice? BM is 21st century Eddie Slovik."  Gibney, in our interview months ago, raised the case of the executed World War II soldier repeatedly.

11:20  ACLU's comment here.  Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy & Technology Project:  "When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. A legal system that doesn't distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability. This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it's also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate."

11:15  BBC's Mark Mardell:  "Bradley Manning stood to attention as he heard the sentence of 35 years - no flicker on his face. All took just seconds."

11:00  Reminder:  My full report on key things we learned from what Manning leaked--an amazing list.

10:35 Report from scene by co-author of my Manning book, Kevin Gosztola.  "Guards quickly escorted Manning out of the courtroom as supporters in the gallery shouted, 'We’ll keep fighting you, Bradley,' and also told him he was a hero."  And:  “At the time of the charged offense,” Judge Army Col. Denise Lind found, “al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were enemies of the United States. Pfc. Manning knew that al Qaeda was an enemy of the United States.” His conduct was “of a heedless nature that made it actually and imminently dangerous to others.”

More from Gosztola:  "With regard to the Espionage Act offenses, she found, 'The more than one classified memorandum produced by a United States government intelligence agency was closely held by the United States government. PFC. Manning had reason to believe the information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.'”

10:20   Manning gets 35 years.  MSNBC military expert says eligible to get out in 10 years.   He must serve about one-third of sentence, which is 31 years counting the "time served."  Forfeit of all pay & allowances. Dishonorably discharged.  Minus 1294 days for time detained and treatment at Quantico.   CNN guest says sentence can be reviewed in six months. Glenn Greenwald tweets: "Sick, sad, pathetic, and disgusting....gee, I wonder why Snowden doesn't trust US justice as a whistleblower."  

10:00  Slight delay.  Nothing new.   Alexa O'Brien tweets:  "Manning was held longer than any accused awaiting court-martial history of US mil law. Judge ruled that Speedy Trial rights not violated." Manning attorney to not speak to media until 1:30 p.m.

9:30   Manning will get credit for time "served'  (over 1000 days) and for over 100 days of "torture" at Quantico. 

9:00 a.m.  Gosztola:  Media being sniffed by dogs one last time in court martial before being escorted on base...Government has asked for 60-year sentence. Defense asks that he get sentence that "allows him to have a life."  Alexa O'Brien:  "All the networks are here. I am told MSNBC showed up for the first or second time yesterday."  Chris Hedges and Cornel West, who have attended on some other days, also have arrived.

Kevin Gosztola completes quite a saga--he's been at nearly all of hearings and trial days and now sentencing segment for the past, what, eighteen months, with only two or three others.    Of course, this will be one of the very rare days where a bunch of other media will show up.   My post on plans to seek clemency and pardon, and protests tonight.  My post on whether Manning will get longer sentence that Sgt. Robert Bales, who killed 16.  

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