Chelsea Manning’s Sentence Commutated by Obama

Chelsea ManningPresident Obama commuted the 35-year prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, an Army private convicted of taking troves of secret diplomatic and military documents and disclosing them to WikiLeaks, after deciding that Manning had served enough time…

Officials said the president thought that in Manning’s case, seven years behind bars was enough punishment and that she had been given an excessive sentence — the longest ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction. The administration has contrasted her case with that of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor who leaked classified documents in 2013 and then fled the country, pointing out that Manning did not try to avoid facing the US justice system for her crimes.

“Chelsea Manning is somebody who accepted responsibility for the crimes she committed,” a senior White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House. “She expressed remorse for committing those crimes. She began serving the sentence that was handed down. The president’s concern was rooted in the fact that the sentence handed down is longer than sentences given to other individuals who committed comparable crimes.”

–Ellen Nakashima and Sari Horwitz
Obama Commutes Sentence of Chelsea Manning, soldier Convicted for Leaking Classified Information

[I will have more to say about this, most likely this afternoon. I’m very pleased for Manning’s sake. But I don’t like the reasoning and I don’t like the claims about Edward Snowden. -FM]

10 thoughts on “Chelsea Manning’s Sentence Commutated by Obama

  1. The Snowden argument is flimsy. Manning revealed war crimes, which as a soldier you are supposed to do. Snowden revealed illegal actions by the government, which government employees are supposed to do. The only difference in my mind is that Manning had attempted to address those war crimes via the chain of command. I’m not familiar enough with Snowden’s case to know what he attempted. But really, nobody at the NSA was going to do a thing even if Snowden did voice concerns. And I don’t think simply mailing some flash drives to Senator Wyden on the intelligence committee would have worked. Those Senators are authorized to see classified information, not to disclose any. Plus it takes a very high level of technical knowledge to understand the magnitude of what Snowden was leaking. No, I think he made the best choice. And he’s not in jail. And if she can hold on a little longer, Manning will be, too.

    Nice predictable response by Republicans like this. It bears repeating that no one was physically harmed by Manning’s leaks. The same can’t be said of the Republicans criticizing this commutation. They harm people all the time. Not least by starting that damn war.

  2. IMO Snowdon IS a different case, if for no other reason than you can make the argument that Manning was a classic “civil disobedience” situation in which she 1) tried to work through the system, and 2) realized that the “system” was part of the problem, went outside the system – knowing that what she did was culpable under existing law – and stood up and took her lumps. She’s paid in full for what she did. If a scumbag like Pollard can get sprung for pure greedy espionage than Manning certainly deserves to go free.

    Snowdon…it’s hard to say WHAT the hell went on with him. Did he try and get anyone’s attention? He says he did (of course) the NSA says he didn’t (of course). What exactly did he spill? We have no idea. One thing is for sure; he didn’t act like a stand-up guy and force the U.S. government to try him. He ran, and ran to a very shifty sort of hidey-hole.

    And, Republicans? Your boy Dubya MADE this shit. He was the one that had you whooping and hollering as he ginned up his Überfall auf den Sender Gleiwitz, you despicable bastards. You were the ones who cheered for torture and checkpoint shootings and Iraqi civil war and every other fucking stupidity and criminal misadventure that came from the disaster. Your entire role in the Manning pardon is to sit there shamefaced and sip a nice, hot cup of STFU.

    • It is a good explanation, although I disagree with the author. But he’s looking at it from a national security angle. I’m more concerned with increasing unaccountability in our institutions. Several states have “ag gag” laws, making it a crime to report violations of agribusiness. Most financial firms will sue employees who identify unethical or illegal behavior. Pharmaceuticals and energy companies as well. There’s some protection for employees who report terrible actions to the government, but of course doing so does not mean government will investigate those companies. So I believe we need more protection for insiders who go to the press.

      • “…we need more protection for insiders who go to the press.”

        Yes. That protection needs to happen through the means and methods of representative democracy, which is to say, We the People need to force our representatives to do things like repeal the Espionage Act of 1917 and put limits on what the NSA can do.

        It can’t happen by saying “Well…Ed Snowden was a canny whistleblower who dumped and ran, but since his heart was in the right place I guess it’s okay…” That’s pure magical thinking, the sort that makes excuses for making an end run around the laws because of a good reason and opens a nation up to making end runs around the laws for bad reasons and eventually no reasons at all, simply because one or another powerful person or organization wants to.

        The growth of the surveillance state is on us to change, if we have the stones for it. And if not? Well…we get the government we deserve.

        • Every act of civil disobedience is a type of magical thinking. You’re absolutely right that the actions of lone wolves are rarely effective, and the best action is coordinated pressure on our lawmakers. Daniel Ellsberg was only effective because popular movements against the war were already strong. Virtually nobody in America knows what Snowden was trying to reveal. (Although when John Oliver put it in terms of “the Government can see your dick pics” the people he interviewed were definitely outraged!) Still, I’m glad Snowden is on the run instead of rotting in jail.

          That Espionage Act is horrible. I don’t know for sure, but I’d be willing to bet it’s been used against dissidents far more often than spies. It’s funny how most people are vaguely aware of the 1950’s Red Scare, but few know about the first one, which was much worse. Americans are so proud of their history and know almost none of it. I’m sure you’ve had the frustration of trying to explain a myth busting historical incident. It can feel like “old man yells at cloud!” And yet Americans are curious about the past. It’s just that corporate media finds it more useful to sell the myth than anything interesting.

        • I pretty much agree with you. No one wants to do the hard work of campaigning, winning office and fighting through the legislative process to get laws like the Espionage Act repealed.

          I also don’t trust Snowden’s motives and I don’t agree with his dumping AFTER everyone knew about what the Bush Administration was doing. Much of what was bitched about was during that time frame-Obama started cleaning it up but as always, these things take time. Considering that we now have had massive Russian interference in our election, I really don’t trust him. I agree with Frank some that we should know more what the government does but then again, James points out something-do we put it out there when no one will pay attention?

    • Probably. I’ll have to read that. Chickens are really great. But first I have to write my article about Chelsea Manning.

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