Bradley Manning Needs a Plea Deal -- Not Life in Jail

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson argues that Army Pfc. Bradley Manning deserves to be punished, but the U.S. government is going overboard.

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Bradley Manning leaving a court hearing in February (Mark Wilson/Getty Images News)

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson argues that Army Pfc. Bradley Manning deserves to be punished -- but not too severely.

The treatment of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning has been excessively harsh, as far as I can tell. If he is found guilty of leaking more than 700,000 classified documents, he deserves some punishment -- probably -- but should not be at risk of spending the rest of his life behind bars. Apparently.

I have to throw in all those qualifiers because Manning's prosecution has been largely a secret process. Portions of his court-martial, which opened Monday at Fort Meade, will be secret as well -- the important parts, presumably. The public may never know whether justice is properly done unless someone leaks the details of this trial about leaks.

But we do know that Manning has offered to plead guilty to a host of charges that could bring up to 20 years in prison. Rather than agree to what strikes me as more than adequate punishment, prosecutors insist on trying to convict him under the 1917 Espionage Act as, essentially, an enemy of the state. Which I don't believe he is.

Read Eugene Robinson's entire article at the Washington Post.

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