Manning should get a full pardon and a medal of honour. S/he has done more for this country than Biden ever did, and that was after getting a forcible deployment against regimental doctor's orders.
The worst Manning is truly guilty of is exploiting severe violations of DoD regulations by the unit s/he was in. Those violations, and not her actions,compromised national security, as did Manning's superior officer. Those people were under strict orders on not deploying the severely mentally ill into Iraq and to withdraw clearance from such folk, but violated those orders in order to look pretty. That is a serious crime. A crime they, not Chelsea, are guilty of.
Under DoD regulations, computers holding top secret information may NOT be secured by just a password and may NOT support USB devices. I was working for the military when they did the cutover from passwords to passwords plus Class III digital certificate on a smartcard. The USB restriction has been there more-or-less from the introduction of USB, as it violates Rainbow Book standards requiring enforceable multi-level security.
I should not have to point this out on Slashdot, half the three digit IDers were probably involved in writing the standards! And the rest know all this because we had to look the bloody stuff up to get the NSA's SELinux working!
She was also under orders, remember, to ensure that no war crime was concealed by the military. Concealing a war crime, even if that's your sole involvement, is a firing squad offence under international law. Has been since the Nuremberg Trials. Nor is it acceptable to be ordered to carry out such a cover-up. You are forbidden from obeying such orders on pain of death.
Those are the rules. The U.S. military's sole defence is that nobody is big enough to enforce them. If someone did, the U.S. population would be noticeably smaller afterwards. We know that because of Manning.
But Manning's service doesn't end there. Military philosophers, tacticians and strategists will be poring over those notes for decades, running simulations to see when, where and how the U.S. was eventually defeated in Afghanistan and Iraq. They will compare actions carried out with the military philosophies the U.S. officially abandoned in favour of modern theories. They will search for ways in which the new approaches worked and where they should have stuck with the traditional.
Because modern computers can run millions, even billions, of tactical simulations in just a few hours, it is certain that, inside of a decade, someone will have done this and published a book on where the military went wrong and where the Taliban and Iraqi army went wrong as well. This core material allows for that.
These wars may turn out to be our Sun Tzu Moment, when through cataclysmic defeats at the hands of, essentially, barbarians (and make no mistake, they're defeats), a systematic analysis of all that went wrong will be conducted in order to produce a guide on how to have things guaranteed to go right.
Without Manning's data, this couldn't happen. Direct footage, real-time tactical information, logistics, international political interactions, there's enough there to actually do that.
I'd prefer it to be us, because nothing stops the next terror group to form from performing the same study. Historically, it has been shown that a smart army can defeat a confident opponent with superior technology and ten times the numbers, or with inferior technology and a hundred times the numbers. No reason to assume these are hard limits.
If it is us that figures it out, the Pentagon (still fixated on Admiral Poyndexter and his psychic warriors) won't be involved, it'll be people on the outside with more nous and fewer yes-men. And for that, Manning deserves the highest reward.
Besides, it'll annoy the neoconservatives and that's worth their weight in gold-plated latium.