In one of the final acts of his presidency, Mr. Obama has granted clemency to Bradley Manning. Here’s what it reveals.
On Tuesday, President Obama, using his constitutional powers “to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States,” commuted the sentence of former Army private Chelsea Manning.
Now, in case you missed it, that wasn’t Manning’s first name six-plus years ago. At that point, it was Bradley, and it was Bradley Manning who was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison for, among other things, espionage and theft.
Given the nature of Manning’s offenses, any executive clemency was bound to be controversial, but it’s what happened after Manning’s conviction that raises doubts about why Manning was the recipient of presidential clemency.
It’s impossible to really know the president’s motives. But a quick examination of the facts reveals that there’s reason to believe that a culture-war agenda played a disturbing role in this story.
To start at the beginning, in early 2010, a series of diplomatic cables and war logs began to appear on the WikiLeaks website. In total, more than 600,000 classified documents had been leaked to the site. The source of the leak was Manning. His stated justification was “to show the true cost of war” to the public in the hopes that it “would come to the conclusion that the war wasn’t worth it.”
In May, 2010, Manning was arrested and charged with 22 offenses, including aiding the enemy, which carried a potential death sentence. Three years later, Manning was acquitted of the most serious charge but found guilty of 17 others, including “five counts of espionage and theft.”
At this point, it seems pretty straightforward. Manning’s actions jeopardized national security and placed people in harm’s way.
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