As criminal bankers, Admin leakers, Congressional NSA liars and classified document thieves (like CNN's Jeffrey Toobin) go free...
By Brad Friedman on 8/21/2013, 1:13pm PT  

Despite the U.S. government's inability, during his military trial, to demonstrate any harm to anybody caused by Bradley Manning's leaks, the U.S. Army whistleblower who revealed war crimes and government lies was sentenced today to 35 years in prison.

According to Charlie Savage at the New York Times, "The sentence is the longest ever handed down in a case involving a leak of United States government information to be reported to the public."

Manning, who is now 25-years old, has already served more than three years as he awaited trial. Much of that time was served in solitary, windowless, and often naked confinement 23 hours a day, leading the military judge of his military trial to declare his treatment "excessive". At the time, his potential life sentence was reduced by 122 days. Manning will now be eligible for parole in 9 years, even though the judge acquitted him of the government's most serious charge of "aiding the enemy", which had never before been included in a leak case.

The moment offers another nice opportunity to revisit a promise made by 2008 Presidential candidate (and then President-elect) Barack Obama, to see if he has been able to keep his word any better than the government argued Bradley Manning did, since Obama described whistleblowing at the time [PDF] as "acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives" and which "should be encouraged rather than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration"...

Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government.

All of which led our friend Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks to tweet earlier today: "Do people think Edward Snowden should voluntarily come back to the US and get 35 years for being a whistleblower?"

Well, actual "courageous and patriotic" whistleblowers like Daniel Ellsberg certainly do not think Snowden should come back, for exactly that reason. He regards both him and Manning as "patriots".

While, at the same time, just to be "fair and balanced", cable news "legal experts" like CNN's Jeffrey Toobin, do think both Snowden and Manning are "criminals", and that the former should come back to the U.S. and face charges for his NSA leaks for some reason that only a fool would believe.

On the other hand, CNN's embarrassment Jeffrey Toobin, it appears, also stole classified government documents, but unlike Manning and Snowden, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin didn't bother to tell you about it, before cashing in on them for a book deal, rather than releasing them to the media in the public's interest as both Manning and Snowden did.

Summing up, Uygur added: "Govt. couldn't prove that a single soldier was harmed. 35 years for Manning. Bankers who committed fraud & destroyed our economy. Free to go." So is Toobin, apparently, and the NSA Chief who directly lied to Congress, and the Administration leakers who illegally leak classified information all the time but are never held accountable for it, because those are the "good leaks" the government wants the world to know about, not to mention those in the Bush Administration who lied us into the war Manning was concerned about, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Here are just some of the revelations Manning leaked to the world at no benefit to himself, including evidence of "U.S. torture, abuse [and] soldiers laughing as they killed innocent civilians", including journalists. For those leaks he will serve at least nine years in prison, unless something changes.

He did it, as revealed by his own words in chat logs secretly recorded prior to his capture, because while working in Iraq he "saw incredible things, awful things…things that belonged in the public domain", like "watching 15 detainees taken by the Iraqi Federal Police…for printing 'anti-Iraqi literature'" and then being told to "shut up" about it when he complained to his superiors.

Manning thought, "for some bizarre reason," that releasing the information publicly to the media --- not selling them for profit, as Toobin did --- "might actually change something" in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps he had even read Barack Obama's promise to protect whistleblowers in 2008.

His releases did change something. It earned him the longest sentence ever for such a whistleblower and helped kick off more prosecutions of government whistleblowers than any other Presidential administration in history --- more than twice as many as all former Presidents combined.

Until Manning, Savage notes in today's NY Times, "There have been only a handful of previous convictions in cases involving leak accusations, resulting in sentences more in the range of probation to a few years in prison."

"In 1985, for example, a former Navy intelligence officer, Samuel Morison, was sentenced to two years for giving classified satellite surveillance photographs to Jane’s Defense Weekly, making him the first government official imprisoned for giving classified information to the press. In 2001, President Clinton pardoned him."

Savage also quotes Ann Wright, the 29-year U.S. Army Colonel and 16-year veteran of the U.S. diplomatic corps who resigned in protest at the beginning of the Iraq War. [We interviewed her in Crawford, TX in 2005. MP3 here.] Wright was an observer at Manning's trial and describes today's sentencing decision as "a very harsh statement."

"While he did release classified information," the woman who spent years teaching the Geneva Convention to troops at Fort Bragg told the Times, "it was information the public needed to know about what was going on with our government."

To bastardize the entire point of an earlier post today, "Heckuva job, Obama!"