While Bradley Manning has been found not guilty of the most serious charge he faced – aiding the enemy – he has been 'convicted' by a military court on 19 counts, several of which fall under the Espionage Act.
To be clear: a soldier who served the public interest by exposing war crimes and revealing gross legal violations by our government, will face a maximum of 136 years behind bars, likely in solitary confinement.
This was my reaction upon hearing the verdict:
#Manning faces 136 years (maximum) for charges against him. Architects of torture & extrajudicial murders? They face the talk show circuit.— David Harris-Gershon (@David_EHG) July 30, 2013
Seriously, I don't want to hear any lectures about how Manning deserves this time because he "broke the law."
If he had illegally tortured Guantanamo detainees for the CIA, or even orchestrated such torture programs – illegal per U.S. and international law – he could very well have been promoted, if not left alone.
The Manning verdict's central message, aside from this obvious hypocrisy and the injustices underlying it, is this: if you are a whistleblower in this country, do what Edward Snowden did (and what Daniel Ellsberg suggests): flee America, and fast.
However, if you commit crimes in the name of the state? Bulk up your profile.
There's a microphone waiting.