In sentencing Army Pfc.
To his admirers, the 25-year-old Manning is a heroic whistle-blower who exposed official wrongdoing. Some of his disclosures, such as a 2007 video of an Apache helicopter attack that killed 12 civilians in Baghdad, support that characterization. But Manning's disclosures went well beyond that. Many of the 700,000 files the young soldier downloaded from government computers and turned over to the
In some ways Manning is a sympathetic figure. He seems to have been motivated by a sincere, if naive, belief about the salutary consequences of spilling official secrets. For example, he apparently believed that ventilating the contents of
Manning also was the victim of both mistreatment by his jailers and an overaggressive prosecution. After his arrest, he was held in virtual solitary confinement for 23 hours a day at a Marine Corps brig and sometimes stripped of his clothes, supposedly to prevent him from hurting himself or others. (Lind has reduced his sentence by 112 days because his confinement was "more rigorous than necessary.")
Even after Manning pleaded guilty to offenses that could have led to a 20-year sentence,
Under military law, Manning may ask the "convening authority" — an Army general — to review his conviction and sentence, and there is also an appeals process. If the sentence stands, Manning could apply for parole after eight years. That would be an appropriate punishment.