On Tuesday, Judge Col. Denise Lind convicted Army Pfc. Bradley Manning of many major charges, but Manning dodged the big one: "aiding the enemy." That charge would have come with a possible life sentence. The conviction still includes six charges under the Espionage Act, although that had previously been reported as five. Manning could face a long sentence of up to 130 years. Manning had previously pleaded guilty to 10 of the lesser 22 charges against him, pleading not guilty to the most serious, aiding the enemy charge. In total, Manning was convicted of 17 of the 22 counts against him, and of four other counts in a modified form. Sentencing in the case will begin Wednesday morning.
In response to the verdict, Manning's family told The Guardian in a statement:
While we are obviously disappointed in today's verdicts, we are happy that Judge Lind agreed with us that Brad never intended to help America's enemies in any way. Brad loves his country and was proud to wear its uniform.
But the biggest news may be the lack of an aiding the enemy conviction, which could have resulted in a dramatic legal precedent.
Depending on your point of view, Manning is either a tragic hero or a traitor, or maybe something in between. The now 25-year-old's personal problems were numerous, coming from an unstable, abusive home, dealing with being a gay member of the military under Don't Ask, Don't Tell, also questioning his gender identity. The military assessed him as having an anxiety disorder. Three years ago, he was arrested after sending what is regarded as the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history to WikiLeaks, including a video showing U.S. military personnel shooting down two Reuters employees and 250,000 diplomatic cables.