It seems of little livable consequence whether Bradley Manning is sentenced to 90 years or 136, but in a rare victory for his defense team, the military judge presiding over his court martial ruled that a number of the counts for which Manning has been found guilty to be merged, effectively reducing his maximum sentence.
The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington reported from Fort Meade:
Colonel Denise Lind, granted the defence most elements of a defense motion calling for some of the 20 counts for which Manning has been found guilty to be merged on grounds that they repeat each other. In the motion, defence lawyers argued that the government had taken single acts of criminality and split them into several separate violations – thus multiplying the possible sentence.
“By dividing this ongoing act into two separate specifications,” the motion says, referring to the soldier’s transmission of the US embassy cables to WikiLeaks, “the government takes what should be a 10-year offence and makes it a 20-year offence and unfairly increases Pfc Manning’s punitive exposure”.
Lind granted all defence requests to merge counts, except specifications four and six of charge II that relate to stealing and purloining of the Iraq and Afghan warlogs.