Well, it’s official. Bradley Manning’s court-martial is over, and all that remains is his sentencing, which should take place tomorrow. (Justice is seldom denied by delay in the military justice system. Manning will be serving his sentence by Wednesday afternoon, and will probably be in the US Disciplinary Barracks in Leavenworth, Kansas by the weekend).
He was acquitted of the most serious charge, “Aiding the Enemy.” The judge ruled that the prosecution’s reach exceeded its grasp here: while Manning’s leaks definitely had the effect of aiding the enemy, they didn’t prove that that was his intent. He seems to have been so spoiled, narcissistic, and childish that determining what his intent really was is beyond psychiatry as much as it is beyond courts.
Manning was also acquitted on one other charge, an Espionage Act violation for leaking an Apache helicopter video showing the death of Reuters stringers embedded with an insurgent group. He was convicted of an Article 134 violation over the same leak, and numerous other Espionage Act violations.
It was a foregone conclusion that he would be found guilty on some charges: he admitted his guilt to ten lesser-included offenses months ago, in a Hail Mary attempt to get the prosecution to drop the remaining charges and to minimize his prison time. This attempt didn’t work. Manning was convicted of all the original charges, except the two mentioned above.
Even before he got in trouble over the leaks, Manning was a massive underperformer, even by MI’s low standards. He had been reduced from SP/4 to PFC for an incident in which he punched an female co-worker in the face (and she proceeded to beat the snot out of him). He ws caught, not because of the Army’s counterintelligence efforts, but because the drama queen in him kept boasting to friends old and new, one of whom finally turned him in.
If Judge Lind chooses to max him out, he’d get 136 years. It’s anyone’s guess what his sentence will be, but our guess would be 20 to 30 years. We’ll know tomorrow morning: sentencing’s at 0930 Eastern.