Area residents consider what would be suitable punishment for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning

August 01, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN |

As the sentencing phase of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court-martial continues this week, area residents considered what would be a suitable punishment for his conviction for leaking classified government information to the advocacy website WikiLeaks.

Of the nine people who spoke to The Herald-Mail on Wednesday, all agreed that Manning should face time in prison.

Glenda Ruffner of Hagerstown said she thought Manning’s sentence should be “whatever it is for going against your government.”

Ruffner, 78, said there were other ways for Manning to deal with the U.S. government than doing what he did.

“If he thought it was wrong, he probably should have taken it up with the officials that you would take it up with instead of going behind their back and doing what he did,” she said. “He should stand with his government, because even as bad as it is, it’s your government.”

A military judge on Tuesday convicted Manning of 20 of 22 charges for sending hundreds of thousands of government and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks, for which he could face up to 136 years in prison. He was found not guilty of aiding the enemy, which alone could have meant life in prison without parole.

In 2010 Manning released hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. He has been considered a whistle-blower by his supporters but a traitor by others.

Richard Warner of Hagerstown said that he thinks the verdict is fair, and Manning should spend 20 to 30 years in prison.

“Being in a position he was in, being in the service, he should know his loyalties to the United States government,” said Warner, 45. “There’s things in life that we do every day that we know are right and wrong, and leaking vital secrets is something he should’ve known was wrong.”

Ray Stottlemyer of Mount Lena said if it were up to him, he would give Manning 25 years in prison.

He said that although there are times when a person in Manning’s position might need to expose things wrong with the U.S. government, the way Manning did it was wrong.

“I think he should’ve went through the proper channels and done it,” he said. “He could have gotten a lot of people hurt.”

Joel Grosso said he did not believe Manning was the person who should have released the documents because of his position.

“I think he was sworn to secrecy and knew what he was doing,” said Grosso, 34, of Hagerstown. “That’s our home security.”

Janice Stahl of Halfway said that although she understands why Manning released the documents, she thinks the verdict was correct and that 30 years in prison would be “plenty.”

“I think he felt he was helping the American people, (but) if you’ve signed a confidentiality statement, you should adhere to it,” Stahl said.

However, Stahl, 80, said that she was conflicted, because people should break the law to expose actions of the government if they are “evil” enough.

Warren Drummond of Hagerstown said he thinks classified government information should never be released.

“Wrong or right, they should be kept secret,” he said. “If it falls into the wrong hands, it endangers our national security.”

Drummond, 72, said that Manning should get life in prison for what he did.

“What if you let him out, and he does it again?” Drummond said.

Manning’s sentencing phase, which began Wednesday, is scheduled to run through Aug. 23, according to published reports.

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