Target: Army Col. Denise Lind
Goal: Rebuke military judge for sentencing Bradley Manning to 90 years in prison
Bradley Manning currently faces up to 90 years in prison for his leak of over 700,000 war logs and classified documents. He is charged with violating the Espionage Act, a set of laws enacted during WWI that carry a long and dubious history. Many of his alleged crimes cannot be contested – theft of government documents is one – but in light of the leak’s minimal impact on U.S security, the severity of Manning’s sentence is extreme. Reprove Col. Denise Lind and her court for sentencing Manning to a punishment disproportionate to his crimes.
At the beginning of the year, Manning pleaded guilty to ten charges against him, automatically agreeing to 20 years of imprisonment. The U.S. government should have accepted his original plea. Condemning whistle-blowers – generally well intentioned, or misguided at the very worst – as traitors sets a dangerous precedent for the country. Fortunately, Manning was found not guilty of the charge “aiding the enemy,” and Denise Lind should be commended for that. The real issue, however, is that Manning was ever accused of such intent in the first place.
Six information leakers have been prosecuted since the Obama administration came into office. That’s twice the number charged under all previous administrations since the Espionage Act was first passed in 1917. This signals a growing trend by the U.S. government to shoot the messenger. The line between informer and journalist is becoming chillingly thin. In our increasingly digital world, information leaks are set to become rather commonplace. However, the government sends a clear message with the Manning case: leak at your own risk.
Mistreatment of Manning began just after his arrest in May 2010, when he was held in solitary confinement for 11 months despite his not yet being convicted guilty of any crimes or violations. The majority of the information leaked was trivial; that which was truly important uncovered various war crimes, including the attack on civilians by Apache helicopter. Bradley Manning admits to his crimes, but his punishment should not amount to more than his lifetime. Reprove Manning’s court sentence of 90 years imprisonment.
Dear Colonel Denise Lind,
“…It is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds, or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states.” These were words written into law by the Continental Congress of 1778. In the centuries that followed, the United States have come to be recognized as a haven for free speech and human rights. Under ideal circumstances, Bradley Manning would have used his information to prosecute criminal actions in a court of law. While it’s regrettable that he did not, Manning is not the traitor many make him out to be. The harsh punishment of this young man sets our country down a treacherous path and slippery slope.
Calling Manning a traitor tells patriots, concerned principally with the well being of their country, to turn a blind eye to the presence of crime. Condemning him to a life in prison does not reflect well on our country and will not be remembered favorably in the future. Why should a man be prosecuted for exposing criminal acts? Whistle blowing is not treachery. Bradley Manning’s actions were a crime to his country, but a duty to humanity. He does not deserve to live out the rest of his life in prison. Please reconsider Manning’s case and reduce his sentence.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: mar is sea Y via Wikimedia Commons