During Obama’s final press conference of his presidency, he attempted to make a case for why he commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. Rather than spending 35 years in prison until 2045, Manning is going to be released in May after having served a measly seven years for his crimes.
Here is Obama’s justification:
“First of all, let’s be clear, Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence,” he said. “Given she went to trial and due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received — and that she had served a significant amount of time — it made sense to commute a part of her sentence.”
Whenever President Obama says, “Let’s be clear” it is almost always followed by an attempt to defend a position or action that comes under scrutiny. In this case, Obama’s reasoning is flat out pathetic. Disproportionate?
Manning, by leaking the information to Wikileaks, disclosed the identities of US military allies, revealed sensitive details of American military operations and allowed sensitive military and diplomatic information to be placed in a public space, for anybody to see. The NY Times and other apologists for Manning say “There’s no evidence anything she leaked resulted in the harm of any US troops or anybody else.”
This is such a chickens**t excuse and those who employ it should be ashamed of themselves. As Andrew McCarthy points out in National Review, it’s a clever tactic but doesn’t hold up under scrutiny:
First, it is also disgraceful for the New York Times to report without balance that “Prosecutors … presented no evidence that anyone was killed because of [Manning’s] leaks.” As the Times well knows, in cases involving classified information, the government frequently cannot reveal – let alone prosecute – the damage done. As a practical matter, such revelations end up disclosing more classified information and, critically, identifying other informants and countries who have covertly provided national-security assistance to the United States. That is why it is always a gimmee for apologists of the Mannings, Snowdens, and Clintons to minimize the harm they have done; it is generally impossible to provide concrete information to counter this claim absent exposing more intelligence and endangering sources for obtaining it.
In some cases, however, the government did show the harm caused by Manning. The leaks endangered people who were named as information sources. This resulted in the State Department helping some of them to move, even to other countries, to be safe. Ambassadors were recalled, expelled or reassigned because of some of the disclosures.
It’s stunning that President Obama, whose Justice Department used The Espionage Act to target journalists, whether to read their phone records, emails or to name them as unindicted co-conspirators can, with a straight face, say that Manning served a “significant” amount of time. The judge could have sentenced Manning to 90 years and settled on 35. Now, thanks to President Obama, a traitor will only serve seven years for her crimes.
80% of a sentence, wiped away with a stroke of Obama’s famous pen.
Shame on him.