For the crime of telling America and the world about the lawlessness of the American political class — including one Hillary Rodham Clinton — Chelsea Manning is now a political prisoner, serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth's US Disciplinary Barracks, after a show trial which violated nearly every basic benchmark of American justice.
For her crimes and misdeeds — including, since Manning's day in kangaroo court, the discovery that she, too, was compromising classified information by running her official email through an illegal, unsecure "private" email server — the same Hillary Rodham Clinton's punishment has, so far, been limited to a slow, agonizing fall from political grace.
This week, Manning once again finds herself in the news. She faces solitary confinement as punishment for a variety of "offenses" so minor that it's nearly impossible to call them "offenses" with a straight face. The highlight: She is accused of possessing a tube of toothpaste that's past its expiration date (I could be wrong here, but isn't toothpaste in prison dispensed to inmates BY the prison?).
This week, Clinton once again finds herself in the news. She faces further drubbings in the pre-primary polls as punishment for getting caught lying, yet again, about her illegal handling of classified information. In New Hampshire, she now trails avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, who even a year ago would have been considered an interesting gadfly candidate at best, in the race for the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination.
I find it painful to compare Chelsea Manning to Hillary Clinton.
Chelsea Manning is an American heroine who knowingly exposed classified information for the purpose of revealing war crimes in Iraq and other government lawlessness, including Clinton's orders to her State Department underlings to bug the offices of UN diplomats.
Hillary Clinton is a power-monger who carelessly exposed classified information because she believes she's above the law. Like the late Richard Nixon, on whose impeachment papers she worked as a young congressional staffer, she believes that if Hillary Clinton does it, it's not illegal.
I probably owe Ms. Manning an apology for linking her name with that of a disreputable figure like Clinton. But, dissimilar as they are, it seems to me that the solution to both their problems is the same: They should both get out.
Chelsea Manning should get out of prison.
Hillary Clinton should get out of politics.
How's that for a win-win solution?
Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).