16 years for espionage, life in jail for whistleblowing

By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. April 17, 2013.

Bradley Manning reading his statement on his motives. Sketch by Clark Stoeckley, Bradley Manning Support Network.

Bradley Manning reading his statement on his motives. Sketch by Clark Stoeckley, Bradley Manning Support Network.

Spc. William Millay, a 25-year-old military policeman, was sentenced yesterday to 19 years in jail, a sentence reduced to 16 years after a plea deal, minus time served, for attempting to commit espionage and for illegally communicating “unclassified national defense information that could be used to the advantage of a foreign nation,” according to an Army press release.

The prosecution of Spc. Millay is strikingly lenient relative to that of Pfc. Bradley Manning, 25-year-old intelligence analyst on trial for passing documents to WikiLeaks. Manning sought to expose documents revealing crimes, abuse, and corruption to the American people, through WikiLeaks, and he faces a potential life sentence. The government charges him with Espionage and with ‘Aiding the Enemy.’

Millay “admitted to trying to pass on classified information to someone he believed was a Russian agent,” according to Reuters’ report. An FBI agent said, “Millay betrayed his nation’s trust by attempting to sell classified national defense information for profit to a foreign nation.”

Contrast that motive with Bradley Manning’s. In chat logs with government informant Adrian Lamo, Manning hypothesized, “what if i were someone more malicious…i could’ve sold to russia or china, and made bank?”

“Why didn’t you?” Lamo asked. 

“[B]ecause it’s public data,” he said. “[I]t belongs in the public domain…information should be free…because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge…if its out in the open… it should be a public good.”

Manning expounded on his reasons for passing to WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of documents chronicling U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. diplomacy worldwide, in a statement earlier this year,

I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.

That statement accompanied a guilty plea to lesser offenses, including communicating information to someone not entitled to receive it. That plea could have put Manning in jail for up to twenty years. But that wasn’t sufficient for military prosecutors, who immediately succeeded that statement with the announcement that they’ll continue to pursue all 22 charges against Manning, seeking life in jail without parole. 

The military’s message is clear: Admit to illegally communicating national defense information for profit, and you’ll get a plea deal and 16 years in jail. Admit to making information publicly available to expose abuse, and the government will refuse your plea and seek a life sentence.

This is but one in a long line of courts-martial that highlight the egregious prosecutorial overreach in Bradley Manning’s case. Last year, we documented the trials of the perpetrators of the Haditha massacre in Iraq and of the Kill Team in Afghanistan – those soldiers were freed and made eligible for parole within ten years, respectively.

But they’ve thrown the book at Manning, and then some. In addition to facing a life sentence, Manning has endured nearly a year of solitary confinement, nearly three years of pretrial detention, and a secretive trial designed to minimize media coverage. 

We do not ask that Spc. Millay be sentenced to life in prison as well – rather, we should look to the leniency awarded him and to those who’ve committed far worse crimes to understand how extreme the military’s case against Manning really is. The government wants to cage for life someone who should instead be thanked, freed, and rewarded for his contribution to an informed American democracy.

10 thoughts on “16 years for espionage, life in jail for whistleblowing

  1. Bradley manning is a hero. a true hero of the world, of freedom, of reason and justice. I stand with you Bradley Manning. You are a true inspiration

  2. Lembrei da epoca do Nixon. No Governo(ele), faziam as besteiras(“I’m not a crook”) e tentava impedir os jornais de publicar. Hoje, pode publicar, mas prendem o “novo denunciante das sua mazelas”.

  3. This is the most egregious abuse of power by a fraud in a disgusting cesspool of the most corrupt government in world history. A despicable display of childish behavior by the biggest national security threat in this nations history. I believe Freud referred to it as “penis envy”. In order for true justice to be served, the validity of the commander in chief must be established, otherwise a fraud upon the court will have been committed. The epic dereliction of duty by Congress in it’s failure to investigate credible evidence of fraud speaks volumes of the state of affairs of this administration.

    • If by his country, you mean the illicit leadership which is continually lying to the general populace about their intention, their prosecution of the war, and their treatment of those in the lands in which the war is illegally waged, then you are absolutely correct.

      If, on the other hand, by “country” you mean the majority of the peace loving populace who are starved for honest and objective information (by design) regarding their Govt’s actions which are supposed to be on behalf of the good of the nation, then you are completely wrong and at odds with both common sense and the vast majority of Americans.

  4. 16 years for espionage sounds right. Unless your working for AIPAC ie Lawrence Franklin, Steven Rosen, Keith Weissman then it just goes away…………..

  5. You’ve got to be kidding. Manning had access and stole documents. Period. End of story. The first thing he did when he entered a classified facility for the first time was agree to protect and safeguard all classified information no matter what. You can be mad at the Army for missing the signs that he was out of it but you can’t blame them for him being a thief. No matter what the circumstances he did not have the right to decide what should be declassified to the public. He had no idea what the contents of all the documents he pulled would be and what the consequences of releasing them would hold for his fellow service members. He belongs in Fort Leavenworth for a very long time.

    • By right, I assume you mean legal right, and in fact you are correct. He had no legal right. His response was a moral one, and done purely out of conscience.

      It used to be LEGAL for lords to have sex with newly married virgins on their wedding night instead of allowing their husbands this right.

      There are thousands of examples of laws which are both unethical and immoral which we as citizens have a right to overturn via jury nullification. This administration was covering up war crimes committed during an illegal and immoral war and lying to the public about it. You might have been OK with that, but Bradley Manning, a person of conscience, was not.

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