In January this year, President Barack Obama commuted the 35-year sentence of Chelsea Manning Under the President's order, Manning's sentence will expire on May 17, 2017.
As a soldier in the US military, Chelsea Manning, (formerly known as Bradley) was court-martialed for leaking secret military and government documents to WikiLeaks.
His release will hopefully bring to a close a sorry chapter for whistleblowers around the world. Given the current administration's attitude on hunting and eliminating leakers, the Manning saga is especially troubling.
Two were Reuters employees there to photograph an American Humvee under attack by the Mahdi Army. Pilots mistook their cameras for weapons. The helicopters also fired on a van, targeted earlier by one helicopter, that had stopped to help wounded members of the first group. Two children in the van were wounded, and their father was killed.Manning was also responsible for the "Cablegate" leak of 251,287 State Department cables, written by 271 American embassies and consulates in 180 countries, dated December 1966 to February 2010. The leaks, which revealed the private thoughts of those handling international relations, were considered at the time to be damaging to America's international image. Here is a top ten list of bombshells found in the leaked documents.
In his testimony before the court, Manning apologized for his actions saying
"I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I'm sorry that they hurt the United States. I am sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions. When I made these decisions I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people. ... At the time of my decisions, I was dealing with a lot of issues."
In fact, as Human Rights Watch observed, Manning had no chance to argue at her trial that they were in the public interest or exposed wrongdoing, and the government never had to prove that the leaks did serious harm.
Clemency Long OverdueAccording to EyeSpy Magazine,
The decision [to free Manning] was not welcomed by Pentagon and intelligence heads, but hailed by friends, family and supporters of Manning. One intelligence official speaking on the grounds of anonymity said the “intelligence community was shocked by the decision and considers it an inexplicable use of executive power.”Barack Obama called his decision to commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning “entirely appropriate” and that justice had been served. The president said:
“Let’s be clear: Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence..The notion that the average person who is thinking about disclosing vital classified information would think that it goes unpunished … I don’t think would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served.”Indeed, many thought that there was more than a little cruel and unusual punishment involved in the way Manning's sentence was carried out.
While Manning was incarcerated, he spent long periods in solitary confinement which shocked and outraged many clinical experts and mental health practitioners who warned that such treatment risked further aggravating the soldier’s vulnerable state of mind.
Numerous studies over many years have shown that even short spells in a solitary confinement cell can dramatically increase the risk of suicide in both civilian and military prisoners.
In one study of California’s prison system, researchers found that from 1999 to 2004 prisoners in solitary confinement accounted for nearly half of all suicides.It was hard not think this was the primary intention, especially since Manning was subjected to solitary confinement following suicide attempts.
Regarding the president's clemency, Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA said:
“Chelsea Manning exposed serious abuses, and as a result her own human rights have been violated by the U.S. government for years. President Obama was right to commute her sentence, but it is long overdue. It is unconscionable that she languished in prison for years while those allegedly implicated by the information she revealed still haven’t been brought to justice.”Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project representing Manning said:
“Since she was first taken into custody, Chelsea has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement — including for attempting suicide — and has been denied access to medically necessary health care. This move could quite literally save Chelsea’s life, and we are all better off knowing that Chelsea Manning will walk out of prison a free woman, dedicated to making the world a better place and fighting for justice for so many.”
Manning's LetterDue to circumstances explained in the letter, Manning was unable to properly thank the people who were her lifeline, the other prisoners.
President Donald Trump has called Manning as an "ungrateful traitor" and said that she should "never have been released."