For many, the story of Chelsea (formerly known as Bradley) manning is one of intrigued, freedom, corruption, and public awareness. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2010, for the massive leak of “sensitive government documents,” which much of the public felt was a bit extreme.
With only a few days left in office, President Obama has done what many have done in the past, and that is pardon many who were convicted of crimes. The biggest name on that list is that of Chelsea Manning.
Ms. Manning has been facing an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. It was reported that she had tried to commit suicide several times. 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.
Now, under the terms of Mr. Obama’s commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed on May 17 of this year, rather than in 2045.
Similarly, the White House has been asked about the chances of pardoning Edward Snowden, whom of course also released what some may call – the most damning leak of American military/intelligence in history.
When asked about the two clemency applications on Friday, the White House spokesman, Joshua Earnest, discussed the “pretty stark difference” between Ms. Manning’s case for mercy with Mr. Snowden’s. While their offenses were similar, he said, there were “some important differences.”
“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” he said. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”
It is pretty clear the chances of Edward Snowden ever seeing freedom in the United States are slim to none.
As with Ms. Manning, although she will be freed, many will question if this is merely an attempt by Obama to create a more positive legacy for himself by forgiving someone who was highly favored, beloved, and created such a wave of support due to the nature of the leak in general.
For now, it is at least good news a prominent whistleblower (if you will) will be released from a life of imprisonment simply for exposing the truth.
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