Tuesday, January 17, 2017
OBAMA COMMUTES ARMY PVT BRADLEY MANNING'S 35 YEAR PRISON SENTENCE:
MANNING WAS NATURALLY BORN A MAN NAMED BRADLEY NOT A WOMAN NAMED CHELSEA.
GOD DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES.
Sources: CNN, USA Today, YouTube
**** Obama commutes sentence of Chelsea Manning in last-minute clemency push
WASHINGTON — President Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the Army private serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified military secrets to Wikileaks, the White House said Tuesday.
Manning will be released May 17 after serving nearly seven years for stealing and releasing secret cables that divulged U.S. military and diplomatic operations.
The soldier, who was convicted under the name of Bradley Manning and now identifies herself as a woman, attracted widespread support from privacy advocates and transgender activists who complained that she couldn't get the medical help she needed in the military prison in Leavenworth, Kan.
The action brought immediate rebuke from Republicans on Capitol Hill.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called it "outrageous" and said it set "a dangerous precedent that those who compromise our national security won’t be held accountable for their crimes.”
"I don’t understand why the president would feel special compassion for someone who endangered the lives of our troops, diplomats, intelligence officers, and allies," Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. "We ought not treat a traitor like a martyr."
Obama also granted full pardons in a number of high-profile cases, including:
► Former general James Cartwright, convicted last October of lying to the FBI in a leak investigation. The former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was accused of lying about his role in disclosing classified information about the use of the Stuxnet computer virus to disrupt Iran's nuclear program.
► Baseball Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, convicted of tax evasion in 1996.
► Ian Schrager, co-founder of New York's famed Studio 54 nightclub, convicted of tax fraud in 1980.
► Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican nationalist who was the last remaining member of a Puerto Rican terrorist group still in prison. President Bill Clinton commuted the sentences of 16 members of the group for setting off bombs in 1970s and '80s, but Rivera refused the clemency to protest another member who was not released.
► Stephen Lee Arrington, convicted in a drug conspiracy that involved carmaker John Z. DeLorean, known for making the car made famous in the Back to the Future trilogy starring Michael J. Fox. DeLorean was acquitted, but Arrington pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Those names were among the list of 64 pardons and 209 commutations Obama granted Tuesday, with less than four days left in his presidency, bringing his total number of acts of clemency to 212 pardons and 1,385 commutations.
Though the Unlike full pardons, which extinguish all the legal consequences of a conviction, a commutation has the more limited effect of shortening a sentence while leaving other consequences intact.
Unlike other executive actions, the constitutional power to grant "pardons and reprieves for offenses against the United States" is one of the president's most absolute powers, and cannot be revoked by President Trump.
The bulk of the clemency actions Tuesday were part of Obama's clemency initiative, which seeks to shorten the sentences of drug offenders who received long mandatory minimum sentences under laws that have since been rolled back.
The White House did not comment on any specific case, though White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said in a statement that the presidential mercy shows that the United States is a "forgiving nation, where hard work and a commitment to rehabilitation can lead to a second chance."
But Obama aides seemed to signal that Obama was considering presidential mercy for Manning last week, when Earnest seemed to take pains to differentiate Manning's case from that of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor accused of violating the espionage act by leaking details of secret surveillance programs.
"The situation of these two individuals is quite different," Earnest said. "I know that there's a temptation because the crimes were relatively similar, to lump the two cases together.
But there are some important differences, including the scale of the crimes that were committed and the consequences of their crimes."
A full pardon for Snowden — the only available form of clemency, since he hasn't been convicted yet — appears unlikely. "Mr. Snowden has not filed paperwork to seek clemency from the administration," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday. Obama has previously made that a requirement for consideration.
Also, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had promised to allow himself to be extradited to the United States if Manning was released. He's now holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he's sought diplomatic protection.
Assange praised the "courage and determination" of Manning supporters on Tuesday, but did not immediately say whether he would make good on the promise. The White House did not rule out additional clemency actions before the end of Obama's term.
Earnest said the president was aware of the perils of late-term, politically motivated clemency actions that have become the norm in the last two administrations, and suggested that Obama wouldn't grant any more controversial pardons on his way out the door on Friday.
"The president has been judicious about using this authority in a way that he believes is consistent with American interests and the pursuit of justice.
And if we feel it is ever necessary for us to make that case, we'll want to make sure that we have ample opportunity to make it," he said.