Crime and Punishment: Abu Ghraib Torturers vs. Chelsea Manning

Why has no one involved in the horrific Abu Ghraib prison scandal "harmed" the United States as much as Bradley Manning has, according to U.S. prosecutors? The worst punishment meted out in the Abu Ghraib scandal was 10 years in prison, while Manning has been sentenced to 35 years.

This is what U.S. soldiers
  • Urinated on detainees
  • Jumped on detainee's leg (a limb already wounded by gunfire) with such force that it could not heal properly afterward
  • Continued by pounding detainee's wounded leg with collapsible metal baton
  • Poured phosphoric acid on detainees
  • Sodomized detainees with a baton
  • Tied ropes to the detainees' legs or penises and dragging them across the floor
  • Murdered a detainee

In the Manning case the U.S. has argued that his leaks led to compromise of sources, deterioration in U.S. relations with other world leaders, and unsafe circumstances for the lives of U.S. informants. Do the pictures of how the U.S. military treated its prisoners in Abu Ghraib not affect U.S. standing in the world? Do these pictures not encourage more attackers and terrorists who can ultimately take civilian U.S. lives? Were these pictures not the best recruiting tool for Al Qaida? It is quite easy to see that even after putting aside the despicability of the acts, the Abu Ghraib scandal was far more damaging to US interests and the safety of Americans than whatever Manning leaked.

We cannot call our justice system fair if no one responsible for the Abu Ghraib fiasco needs to serve more than 10 years in prison, but Manning needs to serve 35. No evidence exists that anyone has lost their life as a result of Manning's leaks, while it is quite clear that the abuse in Abu Ghraib led to a prisoner's death and several more terrorists to join the ranks of Al Qaida.

The video Bradley Manning leaked exposed the indiscriminate murder of Reuters journalists in Iraq by laughing U.S. soldiers -- Manning did not urinate on other humans, pour acid on them, sodomize them, or kill them. He deserves far fewer years in prison than those responsible for the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

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