In acquitting Army Pfc.
But while the judge, Col. Denise Lind, acquitted the 25-year-old Manning of the inflated charge of aiding the enemy, she convicted him of several other charges, including multiple violations of the
In deciding on a final sentence, the judge should consider Manning's insistence that he didn't intend to harm the U.S. and the fact that at least some of the information he disclosed — such as a 2007 video of an Apache helicopter attack that killed 12 civilians in Baghdad — qualified as whistle-blowing. (The same can't be said of his dumping of 250,000 diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, which Manning justified as a way to promote what he naively called "open diplomacy.")
The judge also should take into account that for months after his arrest, Manning was mistreated, 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 already has said she would shave 112 days from Manning's sentence because his confinement had been "more rigorous than necessary," but that dispensation would mean little in a sentence of several years or even decades. As we have observed before, Manning must face the consequences that await anyone who violates the law in a supposedly higher cause. But the case for leniency is compelling.