Bradley Manning won a symbolic victory with his acquittal yesterday on the most serious charge against him, aiding the enemy. Nonetheless I think he is still hurtling his way to a death sentence. Not openly, of course, as none of the 19 remaining counts he will be sentenced for allow for the death penalty. But even if the cumulative maximum possible number of 136 years is reduced and/or run concurrently on some charges, I think Manning is likely to end up facing 20 or 30 years at a minimum.
And I think the US Army is going to make sure it's hard time. Even if the presiding judge doesn't add "hard labor" to the sentences, the commandant of wherever he ends up, Ft. Leavenworth I'm guessing, can apply that at his or her discretion according to 10 U.S.C. 858 - Art. 58:
(b) The omission of the words ‘‘hard labor’’ from any sentence of a court-martial adjudging confinement does not deprive the authority executing that sentence of the power to require hard labor as a part of the punishment.
Anyone want to put up odds that when the door clangs shut between the outside world and Bradley Manning, the US Army won't put the hammer down on him?
They're going to make an example out of him that will scare the crap out of every boot camp inductee for the next 30 years. And judging by news reports and comments from both his current jailers and his supporters, I don't think the young man has the personal wherewithal to withstand what the US Army can throw at him once that door shuts. Maybe nobody does.
I know some people who will greet a sentence like that with something ranging from grim pleasure to outright glee. I think it's just sad. Bradley Manning threw his life away. He did a traitorous and seriously stupid thing and now he has to pay.
And he will, right up until the day a spokesperson for the United States Disciplinary Barracks comes out to greet the press with a shrug and a "Whataya gonna do?"