On Tuesday, July 30th, PFC Bradley Manning was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy but found guilty of 20 different counts of espionage by a military court.
I have written about the government’s zealous pursuit of Manning in my Black Agenda Report column. Manning is but one person who has been victimized by the Obama administration’s effort to punish whistle blowers with the utmost severity. The 1917 Espionage Act has been Obama’s weapon of choice to make sure that no one considers joining their ranks. Of course, there will always be an Edward Snowden, thank goodness, but a potential 100 year prison sentence isn’t likely to inspire similar behavior.
Obviously a great deal was written about Manning on the day the verdict was announced. On Facebook I shared a post which claimed that MSNBC’s Chris Hayes advocated that Manning receive a 20 year sentence.
That is not what Hayes said. Here is the end of Hayes’s interview with Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice. Video and transcript can be found here.
Hayes - The final thing I want to get from you is this. You know, defenders of Bradley Manning have been quite vocal and active and very well organized, and I'm quite sympathetic in some ways to people's pointing out the absolute difficult to justify conditions under which Bradley Manning was held, ten months of solitary. The three years before he faced trial. The overkill of the prosecution. It also does seem to me the army isn't going to walk away from some private first class giving away 800,000 documents, right? My question to you is, as sentencing starts tomorrow and there is no minimum sentence , he faces 100 years. What do you think justice is in this case?
Goitein - I think justice is to take in account those very things that were considered irrelevant. I think they shouldn't have been considered irrelevant, but they were considered irrelevant at the guilt phase. That is his actual motive and the actual harm that the disclosures caused, or in this case really didn't cause. Those factors will be relevant at the sentencing hearing and, you know, I think some sentence is appropriate. I actually believe that.
Hayes - He has pled to a sentence that would give him about 20 years. I have to say --
Goitein - Up to 20 years.
Hayes - Up to 20 years. I mean, I'm not a sentencing judge, but clearly that would be a disincentive for future actions if that's the thing the army is worried about. Liza Goitein from the Brennan Center for Justice . Thank you.
Early in the interview Hayes did explain why the government’s claim of aiding the enemy was so wrong and how it would have devastated freedom of the press. It is also very clear that neither Hayes nor his guest advocated for any particular sentence. His guest says that a sentence of some kind is in order, but she only mentioned 20 years as a way of explaining what a sentence based on his guilty pleas might be.
If it were up to me, Manning would never have been charged in the first place. If I could speak to the judge now I would ask for a sentence of time served so that Manning could be freed immediately. (I know. Won’t happen.)
Hayes gives the impression that while critical of the charge of aiding the enemy, he isn’t very concerned about what happens to Manning now. His words come off as a shrug of the shoulders. “Well, what do you expect when you break the rules?”
I have a lot of issues with MSNBC. Hayes is one of the beneficiaries of left leaning media which “… in creating media personalities who, in advancing themselves, have done significant damage to the left and its ability to communicate its message.”
He is not the worst actor in this drama but he showed his true colors with his remarks on Edward Snowden’s pursuit of his right to seek asylum. Hayes expressed “concern” about Snowden’s revelations of government surveillance of nearly every American, but when pressed could only wag his finger at Snowden for seeking asylum in Russia. The fact that he was forced to do so because president Obama violated his right to seek asylum in numerous other countries went unmentioned.
There are no true leftists in corporate media and that means critique of MSNBC is necessary. It is seen as being something it isn’t and can never be, which actually makes it more problematic to progressives than Fox news. We should point that out and still get the facts straight.