Bradley Manning dodged the "aiding the enemy bullet" and life imprisonment. What a relief it must be to him as he relishes spending only the next 136 years of his existence in the slammer for the offenses of embarrassing the power players of the United States of America and lighting the democratic spark for the Arab Spring.
Let's see.... President Bush immediately commuted the sentence of convicted felon Scooter Libby, who actually did endanger lives through his lies and leaks. And only a week or so ago, President Obama quietly arranged for the safe passage of a CIA agent who'd been convicted in absentia by an Italian court for "renditioning" a Muslim cleric to a black site prison. The spy was flown back to American safety after being detained in Panama. So it's not like there hasn't been a long history legal precedents of politicians cutting people some slack.
In a just world, the officiating judge in Manning's court martial would sentence him to time served, apologize profusely for the state-sponsored torture he has endured, and set him free. Or, barring that gesture of humanitarianism, President Obama could always commute his 136-year sentence. He could even give one of his folksy speeches, pledging that if Bradley Manning promises to work hard and play by the same rules, then he too can aspire to become a member of the great American middle class.
By so doing, Barack Obama could regain some of the goodwill he has lost through five years of serial betrayals and half-measures. At this point, I don't think he cares. I don't think he ever cared.
The Manning verdict, in which an idealistic young man is declared guilty for revealing a panoply of state secrets, ranging from obscene war crimes to the boring petty intrigues of the satellites of American Empire, will only serve to widen the gap between the political power structure and the citizens who remain at its mercy.
Our consolation is that Bradley Manning is getting wider attention than would normally have been the case, given the renewed glare of negative publicity shone by Edward Snowden on our deadly surveillance state. The evidence of public-private abuse against the citizenry is so rampant and egregious that even complicit members of Congress have nowhere to hide any more. There will be hearings tomorrow. Leaders will squirm, and truth-tellers will finally be given a voice.
The victory is moral, and it is ours.