Something is seriously wrong…

Ashley Babbitt

Bradley Manning was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in prison for letting the public and the press know about illegal actions taken by the United States government. Technically he was found guilty on multiple counts of violating the Espionage Act (among other charges), and his actions allegedly caused a threat to national security.

I say that’s bogus.

In Chenango County, it is not uncommon for a sex offender to receive a split sentence of six months in the Chenango County Correctional Facility and five years probation. A sex offender. This could be a man who molested a child and ruined said child’s life forever. Alternately it could be an adult who forced himself (or herself) upon another adult who in turn reported the rape. Regardless, lives in these situations have been forever altered. Clear victim, one that may very well never be able to be whole again.

The sex offender will have his/her name on a list, and address made public – only if the designation is a level 2 or 3 (check the sex offender registry online and see who is near you, folks). Said individual won’t be allowed to have residence near a school.

But at the end of the day, the rapist essentially walks.

I’ve gone into greater detail before with the above issue, so for the sake of brevity, I won’t do that now.

My point is, 25-year-old Manning is going to prison for telling the truth.

No, I don’t know what it’s like first hand to be in the military, let alone the military during a time of war; a war on terror that is unnecessarily cutting lives short daily. Be it an American soldier or civilian, an Afghan mother, an Iraqi teen, a father and Imam, a militant … I don’t know, you name it … to me, a life is a life. Murder? No good. I don’t care if it’s in the name of combating “terror” or if it’s an average Joe who is not happy with his home life.

Now could Manning’s actions have potentially caused the untimely death of Americans? If that’s what you want to roll with, go ahead. I’m not here to judge or berate anyone for where they stand on the Manning situation.

I guess my point is that I have no hope or faith, whatsoever, in the “justice system.” Molest a child, serve half a year – maybe a whole year – behind bars. The DA in your area will offer a plea most likely, you’ll take it, do whatever you have to do, and may very well be victimizing again in no time. Sexually assault someone in the military, get a promotion (if you haven’t seen “The Invisible War” yet, watch it). But provide documents to the press and the public about how the government is really acting … spend years behind bars and be deemed a traitor.

Makes perfect sense, right?

I would like to thank Mr. Manning for shedding some light. I would like to give him a hug – and if you know me at all, I don’t hug.

A campaign was started online where folks could sign up to state they stand with Manning and would serve part of his sentence, as a message of solidarity. I was signer 2,937.

“In 1969 when I was a 21-year-old Army PFC, I publicly refused orders to Vietnam, I was court martialed, convicted of two counts of refusing the same order, and sentenced to 10 years in prison and a Dishonorable Discharge. I escaped to Sweden and never served a day in jail. Bradley Manning has already suffered way too much for having the courage to do the right thing. He should serve no time in prison. But I would gladly serve a good part of his sentence,” wrote a recent signer to the campaign.

You know what doesn’t fly with me? “I was just following orders.” … That doesn’t go over well in my book. If your orders are to shoot a stranger – a human being you have never ever met, a human with a soul and aspirations and a family – and you’re doing so without question, I have an issue with that.

What I don’t have an issue with is Manning’s actions.

According to media reports, Director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project Ben Wizner said, “When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system.”

I agree, Mr. Wizner.

Something is seriously wrong.

Free Bradley Manning.