Bradley Manning caused one of the most harmful leaks in American history. He released into the public eye the identities of foreigners helping the U.S. in war zones, the means and methods of U.S. military operations, and our sensitive diplomatic communications with other nations. Lives — American and foreign — no doubt were lost because of the leaks. If anyone can think of a more harmful blow to U.S. intelligence in our history, let’s hear it.
Manning should have received far more than 35 years in the brig. He should have been eligible for the death penalty, but for the military judge’s mistaken reading of the crime of aiding the enemy. He should have been sentenced to close to the 90 years that were still possible.
If not for retribution, for deterrence (there should be no possibility of rehabilitation offered for such grevious national-security harms). It has proven harder, or so it seems, for our agencies to screen U.S. officers and employees for security risks, and to prevent the criminal, hostile or anarchist, from stealing our secrets beforehand. So the only other measure available, if our agencies cannot stop them beforehand, is to punish them severely afterwards.
— John Yoo is professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.