Pfc. Manning has been sentenced to serve 35 years in prison for releasing close to 700,000 classified documents to Wikileaks. This story was featured on every news broadcast in the US and around the world. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported on the story, each with detailed accounts of the trial and sentencing. Both included the same details, including reactions from the crowd in the courtroom and both mentioning recent whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The impact of this story could determine the fate of Snowden, an ex-US Government employee who also leaked documents to the press recently. Online reactions to Manning’s sentence has been mostly surprised and sympathetic. Several celebrities gathered to compile this video in Manning’s support. Immediately after his sentencing, several men in the crowd cheered for Manning, shouting “We’ll keep fighting for you, Bradley,” one called out. “You’re our hero,” said another”, as quoted from the Times article.
The articles featured in the Times and Journal provided complete coverage, both tallying at least 750 words with several pictures and a video. They both mentioned other whistleblowers trials, pointing out that Manning’s 35-year sentence is the longest punishment ever served. From the Times: “As part of a surge in leak-related prosecutions under the Obama administration, Shamai Leibowitz, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation linguist, was sentenced to 20 months; Thomas Drake, a former National Security Agency official, was sentenced to a year of probation and community service; and John Kiriakou, a former Central Intelligence Agency official, received a 30-month sentence.”
Manning’s story is still unfolding. It is impossible to release all of the details in one article from such an extensive trial. These two articles only dealt with the top level of interpretation: Manning’s sentencing and imprisonment. Just one day later, new information revealed that Manning was seeking to serve his prison sentence as a woman. More information will be released over the next few weeks, as Manning’s appeal is heard and news over his gender change is debated on news broadcasts.
These two articles in the Times and Journal appear not to be reliant on any governing factions. Although this case actively involved the military branch of the government, the press does not fear any type of punishment for giving Manning sympathy. The public opinion of this case appears to be that Manning does not require such a harsh punishment, but news of his gender identity may determine that.
The truth of this story is hard to determine now. The details of those 700,000 leaked documents are packed with tons of violence and death. Even the exact reasons as to why Manning decided to do this are unclear. He could have been not in his right mind. This story will continue to develop, and hopefully the news will decipher it correctly and report it without any biases. The truth of this trial will eventually be revealed, by Manning him (her) self.