President Obama has commuted the sentence of Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning. Law enforcement arrested Chelsea for stealing more than 70,000 classified documents and sending them to Wikileaks.
A military court convicted Manning to 35 years in prison. Her commutation was included in a batch of 64 pardons and 209 commutations. President Obama ruled out a pardon for Edward Snowden, former NSA contractor who violated the espionage act. Josh Earnest addressed the decision during his press announcement of the Manning commutation.
“Mr. Snowden has not filed paperwork to seek clemency from the administration.”
Manning is serving time at Fort. Leavenworth prison, which is an all male prison. Manning gained notoriety after leaking a video of a helicopter attacking civilians and journalists in Iraq in 2007 to Wikileaks. The video drew intense criticism for the deaths of innocent people from human rights activists and other political leaders.
Manning was found guilty of 20 out of 22 possible charges, but avoided the charge of aiding the enemy, which would have sentenced him to life in prison. WikiLeaks said it would agree to a US extradition request for the site’s founder, Julian Assange, if Obama granted clemency to Manning. Republicans have expressed outrage over Obama’s decision to commute Manning’s sentence and have aired their grievances.
“This was grave harm to our national security. and Chelsea Manning is serving a sentence and should continue to serve that sentence,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Officials rejected Manning’s request for a pardon in 2014, while Manning acknowledged it was too early to request one. Josh Earnest has said that President Obama would not issue any more controversial pardons as he leaves office on Friday and acknowledges the appearance of politically motivated last minute pardons and commutations.
“The president has been judicious about using this authority in a way that he believes is consistent with American interests and the pursuit of justice. And if we feel it is ever necessary for us to make that case, we’ll want to make sure that we have ample opportunity to make it,” Earnest said.