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Simpich writes: "Everyone knew that Bradley Manning would be found guilty. The main question has always been about the length of his sentence. When will Bradley Manning be released?"

Bradley Manning reviews a document during his court-martial. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN)
Bradley Manning reviews a document during his court-martial. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN)

When Will Bradley Manning Be Released?

By Bill Simpich, Reader Supported News

01 August 13

RSN Special Coverage: Trial of Bradley Manning

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veryone knew that Bradley Manning would be found guilty. The main question has always been about the length of his sentence. When will Bradley Manning be released?

Bradley Manning was convicted on 19 of 21 charges, plus a 20th charge for which the prosecution accepted the guilty plea. Here's the entire verdict in Manning's case.

The acquittal on the aiding the enemy charge was very important. A guilty verdict would have set a terrible precedent for whistleblowers talking to journalists. Any news that the adversary managed to obtain on the internet from such a disclosure could be used to support this charge, as it was against Manning. Although the statute is part of the military code, its applicability to "any person" could arguably be used against civilians as well.

It's also intriguing to see that the other charge he was acquitted for was the Collateral Murder video of the helicopter gunship attacking civilians without good cause. Did Judge Lind just not have the stomach for that one? The shooters were never charged, and were supported by the Army.

Bradley Manning is the first of the eight whistleblowers indicted by the Obama administration to be convicted under the Espionage Act. This means that the judge found beyond a reasonable doubt that Manning had "reason to believe" the files could be used to harm the United States or aid a foreign power. When he pleaded guilty, Manning stated, "I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this, it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan." What was unreasonable about Manning's belief that release of these files would aid the United States and not harm it? Or that transparency would not help the Army's enemies?

Manning's possible maximum sentence is at least 128 years, but there is no minimum sentence. The judge has the power to decide.

At the hearing that reviewed the cruel and inhuman conditions that Manning was subjected to in prison, the judge reduced Manning's future sentence by 112 days.

Both sides have named more than twenty witnesses in support of sentence aggravation and mitigation, although they don't need to call them all. What will Judge Lind do? Does she have the courage to do the right thing and bring rapid closure to a case that many say should have never been brought?

As Julian Assange's attorney Michael Ratner pointed out on Democracy Now:

She's been given, apparently, from a Washington Post report, an appellate judge job, the higher court, which I found pretty extraordinary. I don't know whether it's - I don't think it's necessarily illegal, but it does - it's interesting to me that she's going upstairs during the very trial that's going on, and given that promotion. And it reminded me when the Ellsberg judge, the judge in Daniel Ellsberg's case, the federal judge, during Ellsberg's trial on espionage was offered to be the head of the FBI, secretly, by the Nixon administration. And, of course, there was a huge stink. I don't see any stink so far in any of the media about the fact that Denise Lind, the judge, is being offered a higher position. And then, think about the higher position. She's sitting up there on the court when the Bradley Manning conviction is going to be, assuming there's - well, there's a conviction because he's already pleaded to 10 counts - is going to be reviewed. She won't sit on it, but her fellow judges are going to be sitting there, and are they going to want to reverse one of their fellow judges?

Many legal analysts and historians believe that Manning should be released, given his effective exposure of war crimes that should have been allowed as part of his defense. Manning testified at pretrial that he had gone to his chain of command and asked them to investigate the "Collateral Murder" video and other atrocities, but his superiors refused. The judge refused to consider that evidence on the issue of guilt, but she has to consider it during the sentencing phase. I think the chances are good that Manning will testify during the sentencing proceeding.

Furthermore, Manning was kept in abusive conditions that meet the definition of torture under international law, with highly substantial misconduct on the part of the government. The UN rapporteur on torture made findings that the Army committed cruel and inhuman acts against Manning while he was in prison that were tantamount to torture.

Could Manning seek redress against his accusers for war crimes? The US, Israel and the Sudan withdrew from their original agreement to give enforcement powers in criminal matters to the International Criminal Court in cases involving their citizens. Nonetheless, based on Manning's whistleblower status and his account of torture, the International Court of Justice could get involved if a nation-state champions Manning's case. Manning has received numerous prestigious awards that will only intensify in the future.

No matter what Judge Lind does, Manning will be released based on the strength and effectiveness of the court of public opinion. your social media marketing partner
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