Sentencing Closing Arguments in Bradley Manning’s Trial (Live Updates)
2:45 PM EST David Coombs: The idea that the impact of Manning’s disclosures is “ongoing, or continuing, or getting worse as time goes by, is to ignore reality.”
2:40 PM EST Coombs in the defense’s closing arguments: Long after any of this information is still classified, the “government wants Pfc. Manning to be rotting in a jail cell.”
Coombs continued: “Perhaps the biggest crime was that Manning cared about the loss of life that he was seeing and couldn’t ignore it and was struggling.”
2:35 PM EST David Coombs and the defense request a sentence from the military judge that allows Bradley Manning to have a life. The defense gave no exact number of years it recommended for the judge sentencing Bradley Manning to prison.
Coombs: The government labeled Manning as a traitor. Others labeled as a hero. These are all over-generalizations. “They ignore who he is as a person.”
2:15 PM EST The government has finished its closing arguments. Court will not go into deliberations today; that will start tomorrow morning. Right now, we’re going back into session to hear the defense’s closing arguments.
2:05 PM EST The government prosecution stated: There is “no step that we can take as a nation, as a military, that’s going to stop a determined insider. Our systems will always be exploitable.”
Government continued: Soldiers join the military for the GI bill, to “change the world for the better,” to “contribute to something larger than yourself.” The government said that Manning engaged in [his actions] knowingly and deliberatively against the law. They asked what of this had to do with gender dysphoria or emotional distress?
2:00 PM EST The government would like the military judge to sentence Bradley Manning to sixty years in prison.
“The Army didn’t abandon PFC Manning. PFC Manning abandoned the Army. The Army didn’t betray PFC Manning. PFC Manning betrayed the Army.” “This wasn’t a greater good. It wasn’t a good at all. It was destructive.”
Cpt. Joe Morrow for the government said that Bradley Manning deserves to spend the rest of his life in confinement. He stated that if you “betray your country, you do not deserve the mercy of a court of law.”
The Government said that there’s value in deterrence. The sentencing of Bradley Manning “must send a message to any soldier contemplating stealing classified information.”
Closing arguments in the sentencing phase of Pfc. Bradley Manning’s trial are happening this afternoon at a military court in Fort Meade, Maryland.
Both the defense and government will be recommending to military judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, how much time would be reasonable for a sentence.
I broke down how long the sentence the judge issues could be here, by comparing his case to other military cases and looking at how much time they were sentenced to prison for various offenses involving the unauthorized release or compromise of national defense information.
In conducting research of prior cases, it is clear that Manning’s case is fairly incomparable to other cases because he did not sell secrets and he did not give information to a foreign power. However, unlike other espionage-related convictions, most soldiers were only charged and convicted with one to four offenses at the most. Manning was convicted of twenty offenses, and when added up, it is easy to arrive at a likely sentence of thirty to forty years.
A legal subject matter expert at Fort Meade informed the press that Manning will immediately be able to petition for clemency from the Court Martial Convening Authority. A clemency and parole board in the military can look at his case after a year. He then can ask the board to assess his sentence on a yearly basis for clemency purposes.
There is “good behavior” credit in the military, which can be as much as ten days for each month of his confinement in military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
Manning has to serve a third of his sentence before he can be eligible for parole. Appeals application to the Army Criminal Court of Appeals will automatically be entered after the sentence is issued. If Manning or his lawyers do find issues to press, they can take the case to the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces and then possibly the US Supreme Court.
There are somewhere around fifteen media outlets here with reporters from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Reuters, The Guardian, AP, CNN, Courthouse News and the Bradley Manning Support Network . Alexa O’Brien is here as well the crowd-funded stenographer from the Freedom of the Press Foundation.