Today, some time around 10 AM, we will know Bradley Manning’s sentence for letting the world know about the collateral murder of Reuters reporters. You can argue a slew of other issues (that he revealed secrets, he violated his military oath, etc.), but it comes down to the same issue as was present in a lot of recent prosecutions. The people who did the evil that Manning reported are free to “drink martinis and watch the sun rise“. Nobody went to jail for lying about the gunship attacks. Nobody got indicted for keeping a billion dollars of contracts going to a company which provided Afghan officials with young boys for sex. The people who told about government and corporate malfeasance (Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown, John Kiriakou) are the ones who go to jail–not the people whose criminal behavior they rat out.
The above is a recent photograph of Bradley Manning. It breaks my heart to see the way his uniform hangs off his small frame–obviously the stress has cost him several pounds. He has gotten very old in a very short time. The people who put him and hundreds of thousands of others in harms’ way in Iraq sit as free men. They get respect from pundits. Their words carry weight. And even Obama (who must understand the horrific clusterf*ck he was handed on inauguration day 2009) has felt compelled to clean up after their mess. The people pursuing a permanent injunction against Section 1021 of the NDAA are in some cases convinced that the passage of that section was a RETROACTIVE ATTEMPT to justify permanent unlawful military detentions that had already taken place.
There are protests on his behalf today–details on the national protests are here. My pal Claire Lebowitz‘ play about Manning, Bradass87, is touring in DC right now, but there will be a reading of it locally today. There will also be a protest at Times Square between 11 and 1 PM, sponsored by The World Can’t Wait (link to their FB page).
And me? I’m afraid the judge will go with the prosecution’s recommendation of a 60 year sentence. And as I mentioned in my Trayvon Martin post, Bradley Manning’s image will join the others in my big bucket of protest buttons with the likes of Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu Jamal.
UPDATE: Manning has been sentenced to 35 years (and credited with three years time served). He would be eligible for parole in 10 years. Considering what the prosecution was asking for, it seems light–even though many (including me) think that any further prison time is an insult. This is not the end of this story.