• My Letter in Support of a Reduced Sentence for Pvt. Manning

    October 22, 2013

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Convening Authorities can reduce or eliminate a convicted soldier’s sentence. They use this power when they feel the court martial failed to deliver justice. As Commanding General of the Military District of Washington, Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan is the only other individual besides President Obama (and there ain’t no joy there unless Manning qualifies as a Syrian kid) with the power to lessen Pvt. Manning’s sentence.

    This process is not new, nor unique. Though a slightly different judicial procedure, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals only in June of this year reduced the sentence of a former Ramstein Air Base staff sergeant who advertised babysitting services to gain access to three young girls he repeatedly sexually assaulted. Staff Sgt. Joshua A. Smith’s sentence was reduced such that Smith, 30, would be eligible for parole after a decade or more. The appellate judges, in their written opinion, said that despite the heinousness of Smith’s crimes against the girls — ages 3, 4 and 7 — the sentence handed down in November 2010 by military judge Col. Dawn R. Eflein and approved by the Third Air Force commander was “unduly severe.”

    If you wish to add your voice to the many now asking for Manning’s sentence to be reduced, the instructions on how to do so are straightforward.

    Here is what I wrote:

    Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan
    Commanding General, U.S. Army Military District of Washington, DC

    General Buchanan:

    I write to request that as the Convening Authority in the case of U.S. v. Bradley E. Manning you move to reduce Pvt. Manning’s sentence to time served. Pvt. Manning has, in the course of several difficult years of confinement, taken responsibility for his actions and has been punished.

    As the leader of a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Iraq, I was embedded with the 10th Mountain Division, 2nd Brigade at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Hammer at the same time Manning was deployed there (though we never met.) I worked closely with Colonel Miller and his team to implement U.S. goals, and came away with great respect for him and his officers, and the enlisted men and women of the Commandos.

    At the same time, I experienced first-hand the austere conditions at FOB Hammer, and the difficult lives the soldiers led. As you are aware, one young soldier tragically took his own life early in the deployment at Hammer. Many veteran soldiers, some who served in the Balkans, also talked about the rough conditions at our FOB. I saw that at times computer security was imperfect. While none of this excuses Pvt. Manning (nor should it; he himself has plead guilty to multiple counts), it does in part help explain it. I ask that you consider these factors in your decision.

    As a State Department employee, I had access to the same databases Pvt. Manning in part disclosed, and back in Washington played a small roll in State’s “damage review.” I thus know better than most outsiders what Pvt. Manning did and, significantly, did not disclose, and am in a position to assess dispassionately the impact. As the State Department and the DoD reluctantly concluded at Manning’s trial, little if any verifiable damage was indeed done to the United States. There is no denying that the disclosures were embarrassing and awkward, but that is not worth most of a man’s life.

    Justice elevates us all, and reflects well on our beloved nation. The revenge inherent in a 35 year sentence against Pvt. Manning does not.

    Very Respectfully,


    Peter Van Buren

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  • Recent Comments

    • Lisa said...


      Very well-done, Peter. I shall sign on.

      10/22/13 1:47 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote:”Justice elevates us all, and reflects well on our beloved nation. The revenge inherent in a 35 year sentence against Pvt. Manning does not.”unquote

      …nor does NOT prosecuting the very war criminals Pvt. Manning exposed in the Collateral Murder video.
      In fact, I submit, this vile, vindictive and absurd prosecution of one who showed the entire planet war crimes committed by the US Military, notwithstanding all the war crimes committed in Iraq, is living proof our military has devolved into an insidious, moral free aberration of sub-human pond scum that continues to this day, to vaporize innocent human beings while claiming to be “protecting” those very “rights and values” that the NSA/CIA/FBI/ATF/DHS and every other alphabet agency work daily to usurp, strip, warp, expand and then lie through their teeth about.

      Yes, justice elevates us all, and reflects on the nature of a people and it’s country. Unfortunately, the USA has lost it’s moral standing, and now the only reflection is a lying, torturing, murdering Surveillance State who’s only interest is serving the Corporate ruling class. So please PVB..I know your heart is in the right place..but fucking spare me. “Beloved” isn’t the term I would use. However, I’ll spare your viewers my choice.

      However, I do respect your effort..although..I’m not holding my breath. After all..this Commanding General represents the very military establishment that prosecuted Manning in the first place. And I despise them with every ounce of my soul.

      10/22/13 4:13 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Since Obama says every country in the world spies and is a perfectly harmless activity, Manning should declare himself a citizen of the world and charge selective prosecution.


      10/22/13 4:44 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      and btw…


      I rest my fucking case.

      10/22/13 4:53 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote”Since Obama says every country in the world spies and is a perfectly harmless activity,..” ..unquote

      Well then, in that case, when can I listen to his phone calls to his mistress, his banker, his liaison at the FBI and his stockbroker. After all..I’m perfectly harmless.

      10/22/13 4:57 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      well well well..whudda thunk?


      Ask ole Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan if he’d like to surrender to the UN for war crimes against humanity. After all.. Kerry said that’s what Snowden should have done. Maybe Obama should too.

      right. unhun. In a parallel universe.

      10/22/13 6:34 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      Manning should stay where he is for his own safety. If he made bail he would have died of a Tylenol overdose or wrapped his car around a tree or cut his throat in the woods or…

      10/22/13 8:16 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Well, speaking of Drones and Drones for Drones, ie Blackwater/Academi, Pitchfork’s dissenter-firedog link had a side article about a case against Blackwater previously believed dead in the water being revived. Blackwater staff deliberately shot up Iraqi civilians just because.

      The sublink in that article takes one to another article by James Risen and Mark Mazetti that mentions a passing reference to Blackwater as one of the companies having a contract to partake in the Drones program

      Isnt James Risen one of the journalists battling charges for including ‘classified’ information in his work?


      10/22/13 10:34 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      In addition to the drones illegality, doesnt Blackwater train death squads in Iraq and perhaps other places? JEdgarHoover mentioned something about this in a prior posting but there’s material on the ‘net too about this. That should be defunded — we need the money for here in our country, not to foster career for assassins abroad. Excuse me, isnt it called ‘Target Officers’ via USA JOBS these days??

      10/22/13 10:39 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote:”Excuse me, isnt it called ‘Target Officers’ via USA JOBS these days??”unquote

      Target Officers. Perfect euphemism. I’ll add it to my list..right under “The War on Ourselves.”

      10/23/13 11:44 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      I’ve come to the conclusion that the day a drone is used to assassinate another American citizen..on US SOIL, there won’t be any outrage. There won’t be any news. There won’t be any protests. There won’t be anything. But god forbid we not pay attention to Miley Cyrus’s ass, or Katy Perry’s latest tour name care of the NSA’s Prism program. Or lest we miss Ms Perry’s latest Snowden level revelation that she keeps a swatch of Miley’s and Lady Gagme’s hair in her purse. You know, with a bow tied around them. Youbetcha, news you can sink your teeth into.

      fuck me. Meanwhile…Amnesty International releases a report on our wunnerful death from above Drone program..

      quote:”On 6 July 2012, 18 male laborers, including at least one boy, were killed in a series of US drone strikes in the remote village of Zowi Sidgi. Missiles first struck a tent in which some men had gathered for an evening meal after a hard day’s work, and then struck those who came to help the injured from the first strike. Witnesses described a macabre scene of body parts and blood, panic and terror, as US drones continued to hover overhead.” unquote

      And “then”. right. Vaporize the rescuers.


      As Chris Bray @ The Baffler says..

      “This is terrorism.”

      DOH!!! whudda thunk?

      bartender..set em up and turn on the TEH VEEH. I wanna watch the stupidest thing I can. Yeah..that’s it..Katy Perry. Perfect. Now I can pretend the earth is flat too.

      10/23/13 3:56 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Good idea. Of course, the chances of getting Manning’s sentence reduced are as good as getting Obama to issue a preemptive pardon for Edward Snowden.

      Have to laugh that counties which refused Snowden to use their airspace are outraged to find the NSA was violating theirs;


      10/24/13 1:12 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...


      Your letter is laudatory as are all that support BM, but this misses a larger point.
      When justice hinges on a write in campaign then things are dire indeed , and one could conclude a lot of negative points about the entire process.
      When Scooter Libby went to court i believe 3 different law offices represented him and although found guilty NOBODY had to write squat to save him from the justice system.
      When justice hinges on petitions then we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.

      10/25/13 1:16 PM | Comment Link

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