Unjust Sentence from a Criminal System:
Bradley Manning* Sentenced to 35 Years in Federal Prison

August 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us



On August 21, a military judge handed down an outrageous sentence of 35 years in prison to Bradley Manning. Manning was convicted on multiple charges for his release to WikiLeaks of thousands of computer files that contained damning, irrefutable evidence of U.S. atrocities, cover-ups, and deceit—in short, war crimes.

Manning apologized to the court after he was convicted. But the judge did not show mercy and handed down a heavy sentence. His sentence is the harshest the U.S. has ever handed out to someone accused of leaking secret information. It exceeds by far sentences given to other military and government leakers. In 1985 Samuel Morison, a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, received two years in prison for leaking U.S. spy photos of Soviet warships. In 2012 John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer, was sentenced to two and a half years for confirming that the U.S. had tortured prisoners by waterboarding. The government is out to punish Bradley Manning severely, and to set an example for others who would expose its war crimes to the world.

Screenshots from the Collateral Murder video, one of the documents Bradley Manning is accused of leaking. The video shows American soldiers in an Apache helicopter in Baghdad, 2007, firing on and killing 12 Iraqi civilians.

Among the files Manning released was a secret video showing U.S. soldiers in a helicopter gunning down Iraqi civilians, journalists, and passers-by who tried to aid the wounded and dying—the infamous Collateral Murder video. Other files contained documents showing that the U.S. itself counted 66,000 Iraqi civilian deaths because of its invasion, at a time when the U.S. claimed it had “no record of civilian deaths.”

Here is the criminal reality of the “justice system” in the U.S.: committing war crimes is part of the normal functioning of this system. People who commit them are “doing their duty,” are “within the law,” and in many cases are honored with medals and promotions. Exposing U.S. war crimes can get you locked away for 35 years!

Defenders of the U.S. loudly proclaim that it is a nation built on laws, that its justice system is the “best in the world.” Look at some examples from the past month alone of what the U.S. “justice system”—civilian and military—looks like in action:

  • George Zimmerman, the racist vigilante who gunned down 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, was found “not guilty” in Sanford, Florida.
  • A New York grand jury refused to indict Richard Haste, the cop who shot and killed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham in his own home in the Bronx, while his grandmother and younger brother watched in horror.
  • Bradley Manning, imprisoned for three years before trial, tortured with solitary confinement for almost a year, convicted and sentenced to35 years in a federal prison because he had the courage to expose towering war crimes of his government and his fellow soldiers.

These examples are not aberrations. They represent the routine functioning of the legal apparatus of a murderous system built on worldwide exploitation and oppression—a legal system that has as a primary function enforcing and legitimizing that exploitation and oppression. They represent “justice” based upon that system of laws.

They represent an outmoded system, a criminal system. What the people need is Revolution—Nothing Less, to get rid of that system and build a revolutionary society in the interests of the masses of people.


* On August 22, a statement by the person formerly known as Bradley Manning that was read on NBC’s Today show, said, “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition." Revolution refers to “Bradley Manning” in this piece and in other articles already on revcom.us and that have appeared in past issues since they were written prior to this announcement. [back]


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