Bradley Manning, whistleblower, leaker of "classified" information, who was held for about 3 years in pre-trial detention by the Obama government, over a year of which was spent in torturous conditions, has been sentenced to 35 years in prison. It is a travesty of justice.

Daniel Ellsberg of "Pentagon Papers" fame contends that "the Manning Conviction is the Beginning of a Police State" (Link to article).

Norman Solomon, whose article is also on writes that the government's incarceration of Manning is to break the spirit of Bradley Manning and submits "an open leader to President Obama."

Bradley Manning himself wrote an open letter describing his intentions in releasing hundreds of thousands of classified files. He did it knowing the possible penalties and personal costs, but acted anyway for the public good and against misbegotten government policies. You can find the letter on the internet at Common Dreams today (8-22-13).

At the Huffington Post website, Matt Sledge points out that "Bradley Manning is “Headed to Prison, While Those Who Authorized Torture Go [remain] Free." (available online at Common Dreams or The Nation). Bradley Manning gets 35 years, while those who made the wars happen were never brought to trial. In an article for the Huffington Post (8-22-13), Matt Sledge refers, as examples, to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet and CIA torturers, and Abu Ghraib higher ups.

The Bradley Manning sentence is also viewed by some as a way to identify a "scapegoat for the Iraq War," and to protect those at the top of the government who made or sanctioned the policy decisions that lead to the wars and the prosecution of the wars.

David Coombs, attorney for Army Private Bradley Manning, was interviewed on Democracy Now’s online program for the whole hour (8-22-13). Coombs says, from his perspective based on this involvement in the case for the last three years, the Bradley Manning’s sentence was “unfair.” He mentions three specific examples of how it was unfair. First, the media were shut out of the courtroom Coombs thinks that if the cameras had been present, some of the outlandish claims of the government prosecution would not have been made. For example, the false claim that Manning wanted “to aid the enemy.” Second, the defense did not have access to all of the “classified” evidence that the government’s lawyers used in their case on, giving the defense attorneys no chance to adequately prepare their rebuttal. Coombs points out, by the way, that he has a top secret clearance. Third, the defense had to go the prosecution to get clearance for its witnesses, suggesting that some strong defense witnesses were kept from testifying.

Let me get personal. I spent years opposing both the start of the Iraq and Afghan wars, the lies of the administrations, the ineffective and deadly prosecution of the wars; the deaths of civilians (by some counts over a million during the Iraq War years); the torture of often innocent people (even though we legally oppose torture); the further devastation of both countries; the questionable elections and the continuing internal strife and divisions in both countries; the squandering of the lives of American soldiers, the huge number (in the hundreds of thousands) of American soldiers who came back with lost limbs, serious brain injuries, immobilizing post-traumatic stress; and the huge profits made by Halliburton and other corporations that were given construction contracts, contracts to provide services to US troops, contracts to protect US government facilities and officials. The work of private contractors was often overpriced, shoddy, incomplete, or not done at all.

With respect to Iraq, economists Michael Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes estimated that from 2007 through 2017 the US will have spent $3 trillion. Subsequently, they raised their estimates to $4-$5 trillion. And these estimates do not include the impact on the families and communities that lost members or who now live with and care for disabled family members.

In short, taking into account what the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have wrought, Bradley Manning should be viewed as a noble soul and hero, and he would be in a truly democratic country with a truly responsible federal government. Instead, we are again witnesses to the ever-present dark and authoritarian side of government and America’s militarized foreign policy.