Wednesday, August 21, 2013

And So Billy Budd Will Hang

But not fatally.

And not forever.

Bradley Manning to get 35 Years:
A military judge on Wednesday morning sentenced Army Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

Manning, 25, was convicted last month of multiple charges, including violations of the Espionage Act for copying and disseminating the documents while serving as an intelligence analyst at a forward operating base in Iraq. He faced up to 90 years in prison.

According to the military, Manning is required to serve one-third of the sentence before he becomes eligible for parole.

The government had asked Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, to sentence Manning to 60 years. “There is value in deterrence, your honor; this court must send a message to any soldier contemplating stealing classified information,” said Capt. Joe Morrow, a military prosecutor. “National security crimes that undermine the entire system must be taken seriously.”

Defense lawyer David Coombs portrayed Manning as a well-intentioned but isolated soldier with gender identification issues, and he asked Lind to impose “a sentence that allows him to have a life.”

“He cares about human life,” said Coombs as the sentencing phase of the court-martial at Fort Meade ended last week. “His biggest crime was he cared about the loss of life he was seeing and was struggling with it.”

Manning also addressed the court and apologized for his actions, saying he was “sorry that I hurt the United States.”

Manning will receive a credit of 1,293 days for the time he has been confined prior to the sentence, including 112 days of credit for abusive treatment he was subjected to in the brig at the Quantico Marine Base.
...
There is nothing here for anyone to celebrate, unless you are the sort who must simplify everyone involved down to stick figures and dumb every motive down to two-dimensional cartoons bubbles.

For my part, I'm going to open Herman Melville's "Billy Budd, Foretopman"

and contemplate the difference between Fairness, Justice and the Law.

34 comments:

Lumpy Lang said...

Sad and disgusting.

Let's hope for the empire's sudden collapse and the fall of the Bastille - when a joyful throng will carry the young hero to freedom on their shoulders. May it happen long before this shameful sentence is served out!

Free Bradley Manning!

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Soonergrunt's post on the sentencing is very informative, if you prefer actual facts about the process to hand-wringing and hyperbole.

Which, now that I type it out, sounds like a lost Smiths album.

In any case, there are several points for reduction of sentence and clemency built into the system, that will now be activated. Manning has about 3.5 years of time served reduction to be applied, so he will be available for parole in a little less than 10 years.

No, nothing to celebrate.

Hap said...

Thank you, DG. With great wit comes great responsibility. Please don't forget this again.

Robert said...

Love ya Drifty, but you're really stretching it here. Making believe the Obama Administration doesn't go after whistle-blowers instead of the people who crashed the world's economy through fraud should be beneath you. It should be beneath any journalist/ blogger. And it should be beneath any slithering snake.

Chris Andersen said...

I've never understood the idea of celebrating the ruination of a persons life. Even if you think he did something wrong, why would you celebrate Manning's life being essentially destroyed?

It's just sad all around.

Jack said...

Yeah, you're on your own with that fantasy, Loony Lang. I'm going to hope for radical reform, but the collapse of American society? The perfect environment for teabagger fascism to rise from the ashes - something you probably dream about every day? - no, fuck that. We're already a society dominated by corporations and the ultra-rich, at the expense of the population. We don't need your heroes removing what few threads of protection the people still have so you can celebrate a glorious birth of libertarian hell.

Also: Take note of Loony Lang's comments next time Driftglass points out that many of these psychopaths really do wish to "let it all burn" and the crash of the system.

Carmelo Clandestine said...

I suspect no actions of its human enemies can destroy the Empire.

Nonetheless, it will fall sooner or later.

The Empire cannot endure without massive extraction of non-renewable resources, and massively polluting use of those resources.

These foolish actions will bring dire consequences, which are already happening (AGW-spawned superstorms, anyone?).

The Empire cannot assassinate Mommie Dearest Nature with drones. It can't waterboard her. It can't lock her up in Gitmo.

She will destroy the Empire.

Being 50, maybe I'll die of old age before I can be caught in the wreckage.

Selah.

Unsalted Sinner said...

It strikes me that this is precisely the sort of case for which presidents were given the right to pardon people. I don't question Manning's good intentions, but it's also clear that he leaked in a very reckless manner. If he had carefully hand-picked a selection of files, that could have been a worthy act of civil disobedience, but in stealing hundreds of thousands of random documents and handing them over to people he barely knows, he had no way of knowing if he endangered people's lives. So a punishment seems in order. But 35 years, even if it only means 10 in reality, seems draconian to me. I seem to recall that the average murderer in my country (Norway) serves about the same length of time.

Now that the court has made the point that leaking classified documents is a very serious matter which requires careful forethought, Obama has the ability to show leniency to a naive young man who hoped to do good. I for one hopes he uses it before his presidency is over.

Sad mess, all round.

Lumpy Lang said...

"Yeah, you're on your own with that fantasy, Loony Lang. I'm going to hope for radical reform, but the collapse of American society?"

How telling that they identify their Empire with 'society'!

The Empire must disappear so that society can begin to sort out the mess the (former) ruling class has left behind.

That will be a festival of the oppressed - though bad news for the oppressors.

Jack said...

hand-wringing and hyperbole.

Which, now that I type it out, sounds like a lost Smiths album


LOL! Wow. It really does... :-D

(Love The Smiths...)

Jack said...

Chris Anderson,
It's not quite right that Manning's life has been destroyed. If he's half-bright (and I'm sure he's much brighter than that), he can parlay his life experiences into a personal fortune once he is released from prison. He stands a good chance of forevermore being a hero to both deranged sociopaths (libertarians) and those on the left who are genuinely concerned about civil rights and the well being of the American people.

Ten years in prison certainly does suck. It's a terrible tragedy. But "life destroyed?" No.

Jack said...

Carmelo,
I don't know if you are aware, but no one is being waterboarded any more. Obama ended that practice. And no one is being thrown in Gitmo anymore. Obama stopped that, too.

This is what we mean when we saying voting for the imperfect Democrat gets you at least part of what you're after, instead of none of what you're after that you get with Republicans.

But I know, it's 100% of everything you want or crash the system. Right?

And sure, drones are used as a military tool -- just like the helicopter and the airplane and the automobile and gunpowder. That is a function of technological evolution, not Evil Badguy Presidents. Drones will be used in war for the rest of your life, even if you live to be a hundred years old.

Lumpy Lang said...

In honor of pfc B. Manning (should cause ruling classes everywhere to tremble):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeDm2PrNV1I#t=149

Overclock speedy said...

I'm fine with it. I'm former military, I've held security clearances. Manning violated all sorts of oaths that require punishment and got off really fucking easy, all things considered. Furthermore it's the fact that there are penalties that makes leaking potentially noble to expose specific crimes. Knowing that you will do the hard time.

We can't have people leaking classified information left and right. Frankly the idiotic nature of Manning's leak (just tossing stuff out there and not specifically leaking about specific crimes) among other things removes what sort of sympathy I might have had for him. Had he done a targeted leak I would still support his conviction but I'd have some sympathy, as it is I have exactly none.

I also question his "desire to do good". By all accounts he was a shitty fucking soldier and an obnoxious pest to those around him. He should never have been in the military or should have been thrown out on a psych discharge long ago. Everyone in the military see's that type, normally they get discharged but we've kept some of them since the entire war on terror and our desperation for troops. Knowing that about him makes me even less sympathetic, and pissed that his superiors didn't process him the fuck out of a military he had no business being in.

Those kind often have delusions of grandeur and do stupid shit like he did, or get people killed.

If he was just a heroic soul who had a desire to do good he should have done a targeted leak about specific issues. Instead we have someone who everyone knew was a few screws loose doing a mass data dump and then bragging about it online.

Lumpy Lang said...

"He should never have been in the military or should have been thrown out on a psych discharge long ago."

Alice's Restaurant.

Anonymous said...

The length of the sentence and the flexibility of the parole conditions are both unusual. I was expecting 15-20 without parole.

It would be interesting to hear what some of those expert witnesses had to say during the trial.

-- Nonny Mouse

Carmelo Clandestine said...

I am amused by Jack's faith that waterboarding and being sent to Gitmo actually ended, simply because Caesar Baracus said that he decreed that they be ended.

I admit it's a good story. I place it just a little below the one about the flying reindeer.

Chris Andersen said...

Jack,

Yes, Manning could build a new life. He wouldn't be the first convict to achieve great things in a second life.

However, the life he lead has been destroyed.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...



I am amused by Jack's faith that waterboarding and being sent to Gitmo actually ended,

well, except for the evidence that they have both ended, which is actually kind of easy to find.

Otherwise, yeah, it's a matter of faith.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

However, the life he lead has been destroyed.

umm, by his own actions. Or do you think he expected to be cleared of any charges and re-instated in the military? Because that would be clear evidence that he isn't fit to stand trial.

Anonymous said...

Carmelo,

Equally amusing is your assumption that it has not, with no evidence to cast it in doubt.

It really is inexcusable that some of us like to confine our scorn to things that we know Obama has done or contributed to? Ok then.

-- Nonny Mouse

marindenver said...

Lot of self important butthurt wafting through this thread. I really think some of our little friends here really wanted to see Manning thrown into a cage in a hole without communications for decades just to prove their god GG WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG!!11!1

gratuitous said...

Yeah, Bradley Manning > Hitler x 1000+ and now we're all safe.

I'll let Charlie Pierce have the takeaway:

"It's that last bit -- the part about Manning's being credited with the 112 days in the military jail -- that ought to be remembered, along with the fact that we know more about what was done in our name in Iraq because of what Manning did than the government wanted us to know. Manning was treated barbarically over those 112 days. This didn't happen by accident. This wasn't an oversight. It was a policy decision. He was treated that way deliberately by this government. He was treated that way because that is how this administration wanted him treated. This is an administration that simply does not want the people to know what is being done in its name. The last administration didn't want that either, but C-Plus Augustus wasn't a constitutional law professor promising the most open and transparent administration in history, either.) And that's the part of the story that shouldn't go away with Bradkey Manning."

Carmelo Clandestine said...

I cheerfully confess to taking a "guilty until proven innocent" attitude toward the Imperial government, corporations (including media corporations), their hired liars--er, spokespeople, and the Malefactors Of Great Wealth who own all of those institutions and sign those liars' paychecks.

With their records of foul behaviors and continuing foul behaviors, why should I not do that?

Carmelo Clandestine said...

ZRM speaks of evidence that waterboarding and commitments to Gitmo have ended.

Very well:

(1) Where is that "evidence"?

(2) If it comes from govt. sources or the Corporate Media (but I repeat myself), why should I trust that the stories are true?

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

(2) If it comes from govt. sources or the Corporate Media (but I repeat myself), why should I trust that the stories are true?

Look, if you're going to dismiss evidence out of hand because of your ideological bias, the game is rigged and there's no need to play.

And why aren't you hanging out at National Review if that's your method? That's basically the argument they use to dismiss evidence for global warming also.

But, let's test it. Does Think Progress meet your purity test for sourcing: http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/01/11/402586/ten-years-at-guantanamo-bay-by-the-numbers/

note two particular lines there: 600 detainees have been released, and 242 detainees when Obama took office, and 171 detainees still held.

Looks to me like they've stopped sending people there.

Carmelo Clandestine said...

If that be true, then good--maybe the MOGW and their servants in the Warfare State still feel some need to maintain an illusion of respectability.

Anonymous said...

"There is nothing here for anyone to celebrate, unless you are the sort who must simplify everyone involved down to stick figures and dumb every motive down to two-dimensional cartoons bubbles."

The "sort"? Such as?

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

If that be true, then good--maybe the MOGW and their servants in the Warfare State still feel some need to maintain an illusion of respectability.

grudgingly and snarkily conceded, but conceded nonetheless.

jim said...

Ugly.

When you go hardcore, blowback inflation is a real bitch in heat.

Manning probably knew to within a few years exactly how long he'd get at his court-martial before his "LADY GAGA" CD was done burning. I doubt he expects to still be alive in five years.

Nobody did more than quietly sulk or whine when Obama promised to "look forwward, not behind" in 2008 with regard to indicting AF/CIA atrocities in Gitmo & Iraq. This - & far worse - is the outcome of that epic lapse in judgement.

That was the same year that Obama echoed FDR in asking Americans to "hold his feet to the fire" if he fell too far short of the mark in actual policy. He then did so in spades, from steadfastly ignoring the saga in Wisconsin to years on end wasted playing Bipartisanship Pattycakes with Teabagger nihilists to unilaterally letting Goldman Sachs off the hook (AGAIN), & his feet aren't even getting warm ... the signal deficit of large progressive protests at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. the past five years has been a wonder to behold, given that this Administration offers an ideal window of time for such protests to have any real potential to create a political sea-change.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Manning probably knew to within a few years exactly how long he'd get at his court-martial before his "LADY GAGA" CD was done burning. I doubt he expects to still be alive in five years.

I don't understand why you would say that.

You use it as your initial statement, and the basis of everything you say after; but it is so extraordinarily without basis.

I challenge you to show where members of the American Military who have been subject to incarceration who under the parameters of the American Military rules, have been killed.

Hyperbole, my friend, is counter-productive. Unless you are Morrissey.

Jack said...

The thing you don't seem to get, jim, is that we're right on the brink of the country being taken over by the most extreme and dangerous form of conservative lunacy this country has seen since, shit, I don't know when. The 1850s? If the GOP wasn't so crazy and dangerous, there might be an argument to be made for kneecapping the Democrats. But I don't want to live in the kind of world the GOP, the libertarians, and the corporations will cook up.

And yes, everyone here acknowledges Obama is far from perfect. But you're crazy if you want to let the party of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck take over just because Obama falls short.

Robert said...

"I'm fine with it. I'm former military, I've held security clearances. Manning violated all sorts of oaths that require punishment and got off really fucking easy, all things considered."

Seriously? Easier than those whose acts Manning was blowing the whistle on?
Talk about violating oaths and getting off "really fucking easy".

Robert said...

Exactly, Jack. Same reason we had to invade Iraq and kill Iraqi citizens. Saddam was a worse.

BTW, Obama isn't within a million miles of "far from perfect", never mind "perfect".