Obama Commutes Remaining Prison Sentence Of Chelsea Manning
by Tyler Durden
Following urges by Edward Snowden and Julian Assange (who offered his own extradition in exchange), President Obama has 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.
Manning will be released in May 2017 according to the White House. The move is part of a final push of pardons and commutations in the closing days of the administration, and Obama has now shortened the sentences of more federal inmates than any other president, bringing the total to 1,385 as of today.
Previously both Julian Assange and Edward Snowden who leaked his cache of documents detailing U.S. intelligence efforts around the same time as Manning’s crime, advocated for her clemency. “Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency as you exit the White House, please: free Chelsea Manning,” Snowden tweeted. “You alone can save her life.”
Manning was arrested in 2010 after leaking 700,000 military files and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks, and her sentence exceeded that received by other individuals recently convicted of releasing classified material. She has twice attempted to commit suicide while incarcerated, and went on a hunger strike in an effort to get the Army to allow her to undertake gender reassignment surgery.
As The New York Times describes, 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 likely 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 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.
In her commutation application, Ms. Manning said she had not imagined that she would be sentenced to the “extreme” term of 35 years, a term for which there was “no historical precedent.” (There have only been a handful of leak cases, and most sentence are in the range of one to three years.)
“I take full and complete responsibility for my decision to disclose these materials to the public,” she wrote.
“I have never made any excuses for what I did. I pleaded guilty without the protection of a plea agreement because I believed the military justice system would understand my motivation for the disclosure and sentence me fairly. I was wrong.”
The US Constitution allows a president to pardon “offenses against the United States” and commute — either shorten or end — federal sentences. Obama has so far granted 148 pardons since taking office in 2009 — fewer than his predecessors, who also served two terms, George W. Bush (189) and Bill Clinton (396). But he has surpassed any other president in the number of commutations, 1,385.
Obama also pardoned former Marine General James Cartwright, who was convicted of making false statements to federal investigators as they probed whether he leaked details of a cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program. He pleaded guilty in October, and prosecutors have requested a two-year prison sentence.
So the question now is… Will Julian Assange agree to extradition?
If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ casehttps://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/765626997057921025 …