Tuesday, January 17, 2017
The Chelsea Manning Commutation: Chivalry Isn't Dead
Obama just commuted much of Bradley/Chelsea Manning's sentence for leaking classified military material.
Even though Manning is, as far as I know, still anatomically a guy, I'm going to call her a girl.
In truth, I think she looks better as a girl.
What are we to make of this?
Leaving Manning out of it for the moment, the White House has bragged that Obama has commuted more sentences than all of the last twelve presidents combined.
Whether that's good or bad, I think it's an odd thing to brag about. If giving people a "second chance" is a good thing, why not go all the way and pardon everybody? Or, at least 50%? Or at least 5%? Or even 1%? (As opposed to a fraction of 1%.)
I'm not being snarky here. I'm honestly asking. If I don't understand the logic, pardon me.
Obama also commuted the sentence of a Puerto Rican terrorist who pointedly refused to renounce terrorism. Google "Oscar Lopes Rivera". Rivera rejected an earlier commutation because it was conditional on him making a vow he didn't want to make. He served an extra 16 years for that. I don't think much of Rivera, his cause or his murderous principles, but in a sense he has more honor than Obama.
But back to Manning.
It's not unreasonable to claim that a sentence of 35 years for what she is excessive. It's out of line with some other cases. She didn't sell secrets to hostile foreign governments but rather leaked information (much of which was embarrassing and tragic but also true) to Wikileaks. She violated an oath. She broke the law. But it isn't clear to me that she "put American servicemen in danger" (as many now assert). Espionage is espionage, but not every leaker deserves 35 years in prison.
What Obama, Hillary Clinton and others have done to endanger our national security and the lives of Americans (Hillary actually directly got Americans killed and then lied about it) for a variety of motives was far worse. It has arguably treasonous. Tell me again how many years they're getting?
Manning actually would have been eligible for release anyway in only two more years (which either argues for or argues against the case for commutation depending on how you look at it).
Does she deserve clemency because she's "transgender"? Of course not. I reject that particular argument entirely. But by the same token, that doesn't mean she should be penalized for it. As it were.
Another twist here is that Julian Assange promised to allow himself to be extradited to the United States if Manning was given clemency.
Manning was given clemency.
What will Assange now do?