The Bradley Manning "plea deal"

I’ll confess to being a bit surprised yesterday when I noticed a blog post which implied that alleged (okay… at this point I think we can do away with the “alleged”) traitor Bradley Manning had struck some sort of a plea deal in his Court Martial proceedings. As I checked a bit further into it, however, it would seem that the word “deal” has been expanded in definition. Manning did indeed finally – after extensive delays while the Army got all of the i’s dotted and t’s crossed – have his moment in court to answer the charges against him. The charges were read and Manning answered, pleading guilty to ten of the 22 outstanding charges.

Generally, when one goes into a “plea bargain” situation, you agree to plead guilty to certain charges and get something in exchange. That really doesn’t describe what happened in this case.

A military judge on Thursday accepted guilty pleas by Army Pfc. Bradley Manning to 10 lesser charges against him, leaving the ex-intelligence analyst to face 12 other counts for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of government documents to the WikiLeaks website.

The acceptance of the “naked guilty pleas” — meaning there is no agreement between the government and the defense that would limit the sentence – at a pre-trial hearing means that Manning faces up to 20 years in prison, even if he is ultimately acquitted of the most-serious charges against him.

At this point, one has to wonder who benefited from the extensive time which ticked by while Manning’s defense team dragged out this circus for years as he cooled his heels in the brig. The Army, in their usual, calm, quiet way, essentially said, “Thanks for the guilty pleas. Now we’ll try you on the rest of the charges.”

Not only has Manning copped to charges which can earn him two decades behind bars if the military really feels like throwing the book at him, (and at this point, well…) but he got nothing in return. Further, the “lesser” charges he owned up to have effectively removed any and all question as to whether or not he did what everyone has been alleging he’d done all along. This leaves little to the imagination other than whether or not the Army will consider dumping three quarter million classified documents out where Al Qaeda could get them as being a case of, “aiding the enemy.”

The trial on the remaining charges begins in June. Stay tuned.