He could have gotten 90 years for the crimes a court-martial decided he was guilty of committing. Prosecutors wanted 60 years. In that context, Bradley Manning caught a break with a 35-year sentence, reduced by time served plus 112 days, for his theft and dissemination of highly sensitive material to Wikileaks:
The Army soldier who leaked more than 700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and diplomatic cables while working as an intelligence analyst was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in prison.
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who gave reams of classified information to WikiLeaks, faced up to 90 years in prison.
Prosecutors asked for at least a 60-year prison term. Capt. Joe Morrow said in his closing argument Monday that a long prison sentence would dissuade other soldiers from following in Manning’s footsteps.
Fox News stacks that up against sentences in similar cases:
Army Spec. Albert T. Sombolay got a 34-year-sentence in 1991 for giving a Jordanian intelligence agent information on the buildup for the first Iraq war, plus other documents and samples of U.S. Army chemical protection equipment. Marine Sgt. Clayton Lonetree, the only Marine ever convicted of espionage, was given a 30-year sentence, later reduced to 15 years, for giving the Soviet KGB the identities of U.S. CIA agents and the floor plans of the embassies in Moscow and Vienna in the early 1980s.
U.S. civilian courts have ordered life in prison for spies, including Aldrich Ames, a former CIA case officer convicted in 1994 of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia and former FBI agent Robert Hanssen, convicted in 2001 of spying for Moscow.
Earlier this week, the court released documents explaining the conviction:
But in court documents released earlier this week that explained her verdicts, Lind said Manning’s conduct “was both wanton and reckless.” She added that it “was of a heedless nature that made it actually and imminently dangerous to others.”
Manning last week apologized for his actions in a short statement he read during the trial’s sentencing phase. “I’m sorry that my actions hurt people,” Manning said. “I’m sorry that they hurt the United States.
“When I made these decisions, I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.”
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange undercut that apology a bit later:
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said Manning’s apology was a “forced decision” aimed at reducing his potential jail sentence. In a statement he said the apology had been “extorted from him under the overbearing weight of the United States military justice system.”
Assuming Manning ends up serving 80% of his sentence as usual in federal cases, he’ll be eligible for parole in 2041, when he’s 53 years old [see update]. His sentence could be shortened in the future, but Manning won’t step out of prison for a long time, regardless.
In other military-trial news, Fort Hood massacre shooter Nidal Hasan has rested his case — without taking the stand or calling a single witness in his defense:
The soldier on trial for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood has rested his case without calling any witnesses.
Maj. Nidal Hasan is representing himself but told the judge Wednesday that he wouldn’t be calling any witnesses in his defense.
This comes as no surprise at all. Who was he going to call? He’s admitted to the shootings in court already. He’s playing for a chance to give a speech lauding his jihad in closing arguments and during the sentencing phase. He’ll either be in prison a lot longer than Bradley Manning, or leaving it a lot earlier … feet first.
Update: Some sources suggest that Manning can become eligible for parole after serving a third of his sentence. With credit off for time served, that sounds like about 10-11 years from now, when he’ll be in his mid-30s. That’s if he gets parole on his first attempt, though, but also if the Pentagon doesn’t reduce his sentence later.