Obama commutes Pvt. Manning’s sentence for leaking military secrets

Obama commutes Pvt. Manning’s sentence for leaking military secrets January 18, 2017

Bradley_Manning_US_ArmyIn one of his last official acts, President Obama used his Constitutional power to grant pardons to commute the sentence of Pvt. Bradley Manning, who leaked thousands of military and diplomatic secrets during the Iraq War.  Manning, who has served 7 years of a 35 year sentence at the military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, now goes by the name of  “Chelsea” and has been seeking government-funded gender-reassignment surgery.

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks who is holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London,  has said  that if Obama commutes Manning, he would agree to extradition in the United States to face charges of publishing classified material.  (That would presumably be better than extradition to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault.)  Manning’s revelations helped bring Wikileaks to prominence.

From Obama Commutes Bulk of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence – The New York Times:

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. . . .

Ms. Manning was still known as Bradley Manning when she deployed with her unit to Iraq in late 2009. There, she worked as a low-level intelligence analyst helping her unit assess insurgent activity in the area it was patrolling, a role that gave her access to a classified computer network.

She copied hundreds of thousands of military incident logs from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which, among other things, exposed abuses of detainees by Iraqi military officers working with American forces and showed that civilian deaths in the Iraq war were probably much higher than official estimates.

The files she copied also included about 250,000 diplomatic cables from American embassies around the world showing sensitive deals and conversations, dossiers detailing intelligence assessments of Guantánamo detainees held without trial, and a video of an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in which two Reuters journalists were killed, among others.

She decided to make all these files public, as she wrote at the time, in the hope that they would incite “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.” WikiLeaks disclosed them — working with traditional news organizations including The New York Times — bringing notoriety to the group and its founder, Julian Assange.

The disclosures set off a frantic scramble as Obama administration officials sought to minimize any potential harm, including getting to safety some foreigners in dangerous countries who were identified as having helped American troops or diplomats. Prosecutors, however, presented no evidence that anyone was killed because of the leaks.

[Keep reading. . .] 

Photo of Private Bradley Manning by United States Army [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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