National

President Obama Commutes the Sentence of Chelsea Manning

From the NYT:

President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to kill herself last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the men’s military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

The act of clemency could be seen as a reversal, at least in part, of the Obama administration’s unprecedented criminal crackdown on leaking: The administration has brought charges in about nine cases, about twice as many as under all previous presidents combined.

At the same time that Mr. Obama commuted the sentence of Ms. Manning, a low-ranking enlisted soldier at the time of her leaks, he also granted a pardon to Gen. James E. Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and one of the highest-ranking officials ensnared in the leak crackdown.

I was genuinely surprised at this move, especially since Obama was pretty harsh on leaking.  It is the right thing to do, and certainly a compassionate move.

You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. — Shirley Chisolm

6 comments on “President Obama Commutes the Sentence of Chelsea Manning

  1. cassandram

    Oscar Lopez Rivera — famous Puerto Rican activist for independence — was also pardoned.

  2. This surprised me as well. I didn’t think he’d do it.

  3. I am really conflicted on this. I am glad it is not a pardon, but It still really undercuts our argument against Wikileaks and Russia now.

    • cassandram

      How? She served 7 years or so, which is about the normal sentence. Manning and Wikileaks were in the whistleblowing business at the time (acknowledging that Manning could have done this through channels) and there is alot we learned about the Iraq business that helped shut it down. Petraeus’ breach was arguably worse and he served no time whatsoever.

      • HyperbolicDem

        I can see both sides. I do think that her actions were wrong and had potentially catastrophic consequences. However, I do think the sentence was 3x harsher than what is standard for this. I just think this will play right into Trump’s hands and embolden his fight with the intelligence community. It was the right thing to do on a human and moral level, but very damaging politically.

    • My problem was never with the fact she went to jail – it was with the length of the sentencing. It wasn’t consistent with sentences in the past. As Cassandra points out, Petraeus is an excellent example. Now, if he, and others, had gone to jail under the same sentence I wouldn’t have a problem with punishment.

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