The Army enlisted man who stole secret information from the government and leaked that data to the anti-secrecy WikiLeaks was dishonorably discharged, and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Pfc. Bradley Manning is still hopeful of a pardon from the president, but that is unlikely.
He was convicted last month of 20 crimes, including six violations of the Espionage Act. He was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, which could have meant life in prison and no parole. His plea for a soft sentence was on the basis of “I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.”
Manning was an intelligence analyst and should have known that it is a crime to steal from the government. One wonders why he ever was put in a position of trust by the military. He appears to be a very naive individual, lacking in loyalty to the government and his country. We must remember that his defense made him out to be a good person who simply made a mistake and now he should be trusted.
The case had a bizarre twist Thursday when Manning said he really was a woman and asked to be referred to as Chelsea and is seeking hormone therapy. What next?
To be dishonorably discharged carries a lifetime stigma that must never be removed. He has been a disgrace to the uniform he wore. His attorney will attempt to obtain a presidential pardon from the sentence. There is absolutely no basis for a pardon or to have his sentence commuted to the three years he already has served. He probably won’t serve 35 years. With good behavior and credit for time served, Manning could be out of prison in about six-and-a-half years. He needs to serve more time.
The sentence given was fair. The young man is a thief and we will never know the harm he has done by leaking classified documents. There are people who say and write that the government has gone overboard in secrecy. We live in a dangerous world. Unfortunately, that situation requires more secrecy.
The Manning sentence sends a message that it is wrong to steal, leak classified information, and to violate the trust the military bestows to people by placing them in sensitive positions.