Thirty Five Years

Bradley Manning was sentenced to thirty five years today, with parole possible after 1/3 of his sentence has been served. That means, since he’s been in prison for about 3 years already, plus 112 days for his dreadful abuse, that he could be eligible for parole in around 10 years — meaning Manning could be back out on the streets by the age of 35.

This is far less than the worst case scenario imagined by his supporters (120 years or something), and a bit more than half what his prosecution had asked for (60 years), but it is still an enormous prison sentence. There is the chance he could serve the full term, which would put him in his 50s by the time he’s back out.

Everyone who had a preference in Manning’s trial is going to be disappointed by this — his supporters will cry injustice, his opponents will cry coddling. That suggests the sentence is probably the best possible solution, as it is still terrifying (would you want to face 35 years in a stockade?) without being a death sentence (the full term would have exceeded his likely lifespan).

The big question of whether it will serve as a deterrent to future leakers, however, remains to be seen. Edward Snowden claims that Bradley Manning’s arrest inspired him, though he’s turned out to be such an unrelaible narrator of his own decisions that I’m not sure that’s anything to go on. The military has stronger norms against betrayal than civilian IT workers, too, so maybe that suggests it _is _going to be effective. But I guess we’ll just have to see.

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