US President Barack Obama granted 64 pardons and 209 commutations Jan. 17, including commuting the sentence of Chelsea Manning. Manning worked as a low-level intelligence analyst where she leaked documents regarding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2010 to WikiLeaks which exposed abuses of detainees and civilian deaths. The commutation will release Chelsea Manning on May 17. Several Republican leaders have criticized the commutation, including Rep. Mac Thornberry, Sen. John McCain, and Speaker Paul D. Ryan, stating that Manning's actions risked national security. Manning's lawyers stated that "Her 35-year sentence for disclosing information that served the public interest and never caused harm to the United States was always excessive, and we're delighted that justice is being served in the form of this commutation." A White House Petition received more than 100,000 signatures in December to commute Manning's sentence.
Manning was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison for espionage in 2013 after being arrested in 2010. In September Manning was sentenced to two weeks of solitary confinement over a suicide attempt and the possession of a banned book. Earlier in September, Manning ended a five-day hunger strike after the Army agreed to allow her to undergo gender reassignment surgery. In May Manning appealed her 35-year prison sentence. In 2013 Manning filed for a presidential pardon of the 35-year sentence. In Feburary 2013 Manning pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges against her for providing classified materials to WikiLeaks.
From Jurist, Jan. 18. Used with permission.
Note: UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez in 2012 formally accused the US of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning, noting that (s)he had been held in solitary confinement for almost a year. Mendez found that these conditions "could constitute torture." (The Guardian, March 12, 2012) While this treatment is to be unequivocally protested, CounterVortex did not share the general glorification of Manning among progressives, considering her a deeply flawed hero with extremely muddled politics. Manning's actions loaned great consequence to WikiLeaks, which now appears to have been co-opted into a de facto arm of Russian intelligence, with a deeply reactionary agenda.