Bradley Manning has been convicted of embarrassing the government of the United States by exposing the crimes and errors of its armed forces and its administration. This is a serious offence. I am sure that it will be dealt with far more seriously than less serious crimes.
In 1968 United States soldiers killed many Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. The precise number is unknown but estimates range between 347 and 504. All the people killed at My Lai were unarmed and included women and children. Some women were gang raped. For this crime, which is obviously far less serious than anything perpetrated by Mr Manning, only one person was convicted. He was Lieutenant William Calley and he served three and a half years, not in prison but under house arrest.
Lieutenant Calley only marginally embarrassed the United States. Many soldiers commit war crimes, not usually under the orders of their superiors, and traditionally the United States does not value the lives of those who are not Americans in wars and in armed conflict.
Bradley Manning has already served more time in prison, some of it in solitary confinement, than Lieutenant Calley served.
The prosecution authorities and the government were jubilant when they heard of Mr Manning’s conviction.