By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
OAKDALE, LA—On Tuesday, January 17, 2017 President Barack H Obama (D) continued his unprecedented whirlwind of pardons and sentence commutations as time runs out on his eight years in office. President Obama upset many when he commuted most of the sentence of Chelsea Manning.
US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) 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.”
Former State Representative Paul DeMarco (R-Homewood) said, “President Barak Obama has now commuted the sentences of 1,385 people and pardoned 212 people. He has issued more commutations than any other president. Today he commuted the sentence of several traitors to our Nation. We should all worry about who else he is going to pardon in his last days and hours in office.”
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) This is just outrageous. 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.
According to original reporting by military.com, Private Bradley 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.
Bradley Manning later started calling himself “Chelsea” Manning and insisted that he was a girl because he would rather be a girl. Manning has been seeking taxpayer subsidies for his transgender reassignment medical procedures, even though he is a prisoner for betraying his country. The Daily Mail is reporting that Wiki-Leaks founder Julian Assange will end his own exile and turn himself in to authorities in exchange for Obama showing mercy to Manning. Manning transferred several hundred thousand documents to Assange’s Wiki-Leaks.
Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman (D) however is still in prison.
The Facebook group, Free Don Siegelman said ,n Tuesday, “President Barack Obama Barack has ONE MORE DAY to pardon political prisoner Don Siegelman, former Democratic Governor of Alabama.” “DON NEEDS OUR SUPPORT NOW MORE THAN EVER! Please MESSAGE & TWEET ASAP!!!!” “On MLK Sunday in Birmingham, AL “Maze” Marshall presented a letter to AG Loretta Lynch, signed by 112 former Attorneys General, asking for a Presidential Pardon for Don. Keep up the pressure! — with Barack Obama, Vice President Biden, Don Siegelman, Maze Marshall and Loretta Lynch, Attorney General.”
Following his term as Governor, an investigation by the US Department of Justice raised questions about the ethical conduct of Siegelman while Governor. The feds brought one case against Siegelman; but federal judge U. W. Clemon threw most of the evidence out of court on technicalities leading to those charges being dropped.
Federal prosecutors brought a second set of charges against Siegelman. This time they accused him of accepting $500,000 for his lottery campaign from Healthsouth CEO Richard Scrushy (who himself had earlier been acquitted on federal charges of falsifying Healthsouth financial statements). Federal prosecutors argued that the money was a quid pro quo bribe in order to get Scrushy back on the Certificate of Need Board so that Scrushy could lobby the other members of the Board to grant him a permit to build Healthsouth’s new digital hospital on US Highway 280 near the I-459 junction.
Siegelman got his money to advertise a controversial lottery plan; but the widely criticized State lottery plan was rejected by State voters. Scrushy received a certificate of need to build the new hospital in Birmingham near the Shelby County line; but was removed from Healthsouth after it was revealed that his company had been submitting financial statements that dramatically inflated the company’s earnings. The unfinished digital hospital was ultimately sold to Trinity, who finished the project and moved their operations there and the facility is now known as Grandview. The defense acknowledged the facts of the case but argued that this was not bribery and not corruption; but jurors found Siegelman and Scrushy both guilty. Multiple appeals by Siegelman have failed to overturn that verdict.
Gov. Siegelman is currently serving a 78 month sentence in Oakdale Federal Prison in Louisiana. Without a pardon or sentence commutation, Gov. Siegelman will finish his prison term in August.
Manning could be out of prison as early as April and without any assistance from President Obama, Gov. Siegelman could still be in federal prison in Louisiana. Many prominent people, most recently Hillary Clinton’s Campaign manager John Podesta have asked the Obama Administration to pardon, or at least commute, the remainder of Siegelman’s sentence.
If Pres. Obama refuses to free the former Alabama Governor, then presumably his supporters will ask President Donald J. Trump (R) for assistance; but getting a pardon for Trump in his first months in office seems less likely.