By Justin Mazzola, attorney and researcher with Amnesty International USA
Let’s all take a trip down memory lane to our Sesame Street days and engage in the following exercise of “Which One Doesn’t Belong”:
- The only soldier who was tried in the death of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq – no prison time, and the government conducted no further investigation into the incident, despite persistent and strong advocacy by human rights organizations.
- Countless CIA agents used so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that amounted to torture on “war on terror” detainees – no prosecutions, and the world is still awaiting the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Armed Services’ Report on Torture by the CIA.
- A General who oversaw Abu Ghraib prison, where Iraqi detainees were tortured – demotion to Colonel.
- The soldiers who perpetrated those acts of torture at Abu Ghraib prison – three to 10 years of prison.
- A soldier who released classified information that pointed towards potential human rights violations by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan – 35 years in prison.
Private Manning’s sentence is more than 17 times longer than any other sentence previously administered for providing information to the media. When compared to those who committed the human rights violations described above, it seems clear that this sentence serves only one purpose: to make an example of a soldier who only intended to show the true costs of war.
Amnesty International has spoken out about the charges brought against Manning, the verdict and the sentence that was handed down. Amnesty International has also provided a letter of support for Manning’s application for clemency from the President, and now the human rights organization is supporting Manning’s attorneys in a separate avenue to review the sentence and verdict.
As part of the Military Court Martial process, the Convening Authority which oversees the trial can modify the findings and the sentence of the court martial upon application from the defendant. While this application process may still take another month or more to complete, Amnesty International has drafted a letter of support for this application requesting a reduction in sentence to time served and has launched a petition to collect signatures for this letter. Amnesty International will provide this letter along with all signatures collected to Manning’s attorneys to be submitted with the application to the Convening Authority once it is completed.
Please join Amnesty International in this request for clemency for Chelsea Manning by signing this petition to have your name added to the letter.
USA: Private Manning’s application for clemency (Open letter, 14 November 2013)
USA: Commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence and investigate the abuses she exposed (News story, 21 August 2013)