Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for being a whistleblower.
The prosecution argued for a 60 year sentence, specifically to make an example of him to deter others from leaking classified information.
Ironically, the example they are actually making is that being a whistleblower is considered as bad as being an enemy spy. The Brennan Center for Justice called Manning’s sentence “unprecedented”. “It’s more than 17 times the next longest sentence ever served” for providing secret material to the media. “It is in line with sentences for paid espionage for the enemy.” Indeed.
The ACLU pointed out the hypocrisy of his sentence. “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.”
Amnesty International has the best answer. “Instead of fighting tooth and nail to lock him up for decades, the US government should turn its attention to investigating and delivering justice for the serious human rights abuses committed by its officials in the name of countering terror.”
UPDATE: This case takes a bizarre new twist, as Manning announces that he is transgendered, and intends to live out the remainder of his life as a woman. Manning’s attorney read out a statement on the Today show on NBC, saying “I am Chelsea Manning. I am female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”
UPDATE 2: I completely agree with this opinion piece in Politico. Read it. It proposes a set of rules for prosecuting whistleblowers that make a lot of sense:
- Government employees who expose misconduct should not be punished more severely than those who engage in misconduct. Among the more blatant injustices of the Manning case is that Manning was prosecuted more intensely, and punished far more harshly, than other soldiers (and their superiors) who authorized and engaged in war crimes, including the torture of prisoners and the killing of civilians.
- Not all leaks are the same, and the law should not treat them the same. … Indeed, unauthorized disclosures of information relating to government fraud, corruption, or illegal activities should not be prosecuted at all.
- The government should have to demonstrate that the leaked information had been properly withheld form the public. Rampant overclassification of information about critically important government activities is a chronic and widely recognized problem.
- The government should be consistent in its enforcement of criminal laws against leaking. … Even while the Obama administration has brought an unprecedented number of leak prosecutions, it has simultaneously provided favored reporters with vast amounts of classified information for the production of news reports and books that further its preferred narrative.