Disgrace: Obama Commutes Bradley Manning’s Sentence

by David French

I’m not surprised, but I’m still deeply disappointed:

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration, and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

Manning is transgender and now goes by the name “Chelsea” after entering the Army as Bradley. He deployed to Iraq as an intelligence analyst, where he copied and ultimately disclosed a vast number of military and diplomatic files, including detailed, classified accounts of American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While the New York Times tries to underplay the significance of the leak by noting that the documents were “merely” classified at the “secret” level, it at least partially acknowledges the gravity of the breach:

The disclosures set off a frantic scramble as Obama administration officials sought to minimize any potential harm, including getting to safety some foreigners in dangerous countries who were identified as having helped American troops or diplomats. Prosecutors, however, presented no evidence that anyone was killed because of the leaks.

Let me put this more plainly. He disclosed details of American military operations, the identities of American military allies, and placed sensitive American diplomatic relationships at risk. We may never know exactly how much damage he did.

No matter how troubled Manning is (and he’s certainly troubled), he breached faith with his brothers in arms. Armies depend on bonds of trust, and he knowingly and intentionally placed lives in danger by indiscriminately placing our nation’s secrets in the public domain. He risked American lives. He risked allied lives.

It’s not that long ago that actions like Manning’s would merit execution, and he should be grateful that he merely received a 35 year sentence. Instead, however, both the Times and the Obama administration treat him more like a messed-up kid than a soldier who betrayed his nation. Here’s the Times’s take:

The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

More:

The commutation also relieved the Department of Defense of the difficult responsibility of her incarceration as she pushes for treatment for her gender dysphoria — including sex reassignment surgery — that the military has no experience providing.

Manning isn’t a woman in need of rescue. He’s a soldier who committed serious crimes. He wasn’t a “whistleblower,” as many of his defenders claim. He just dumped hundreds of thousands of classified documents into the public domain for the purposes of “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms” without the slightest regard for the lives of others. There is no excuse.

Manning is a traitor who pled guilty to a lesser offense to avoid the full penalty for his crimes. He has received too much mercy already. Obama’s commutation of his sentence is a disgrace.

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