By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
WASHINGTON—On Tuesday, January 17, 2017, President Barack Obama continued a whirlwind of pardons and sentence commutations as times runs out on his eight years in office. In what is perhaps his most controversial commutation yet, the President commuted the majority of the sentence for Chelsea Manning, a trans army solider convicted of committing espionage for the massive leaking of documents to Wikileaks.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) called the commutation outrageous stating, “Chelsea Manning’s treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets. President Obama now leaves in place a dangerous precedent that those who compromise our national security won’t be held accountable for their crimes.”
Private Manning’s crimes included one charge of wrongful and wanton publication to the internet intelligence belonging to the United States; five charges of stealing, purloining or knowingly converting US government records; six charges of willful communication of information relating to the national defense; one charge of willful communication of information in unlawful possession; one charge of willful communication of information relating to the national defense by exceeding authorized access to a US government computer; one charge of willful communication of information relating to the national defense obtained by accessing a US government computer; and five charges of failure to obey order or regulation, according to the White House.
At the time of her crime, Manning went by “Bradley Manning” and identified as male, but came out as trans while imprisoned.
US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) said in a statement, “I strongly disagree with President Obama’s decision to commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of leaking classified government and military documents. These actions put American lives at risk and empowered our enemies. It is absolutely absurd to reward the behavior of someone whose actions put the safety and security of the American people at risk.”
Manning has been imprisoned for nearly seven years, after receiving an abnormally long sentence for her crimes. It is important to distinguish that Obama has only granted clemency to Manning, which does not pardon her of her crimes.
Manning is set to be freed on May 17th.