Chelsea Manning To Be Released From Prison, Sentence Commuted By President Obama
President Obama has commuted the sentence of Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, my second cousin, who was serving a 35-year term for leaking hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and military reports to WikiLeaks. As a result of Obama’s action, Manning will be released in May.
I am very pleased with this news and would like to explain why.
As I have stated from the start on this blog I am not one to look kindly on the release of information in the way Manning did while serving this nation in the military. I am also mindful that the way documents are listed in degrees of secrecy is a matter that has rightly drawn the examination of good government types. One can rightly argue there is far too much that is labeled as ‘secret’ in our government. It needs noting that none of the documents Manning disclosed were classified above the merely “secret” level.
It can be stated that Manning allowed for insight into the problems which existed in Iraq following the willful invasion by America. She copied hundreds of thousands of military incident logs from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which, among other things, exposed abuses of detainees by Iraqi military officers working with American forces and showed that civilian deaths in the Iraq war were likely much higher than official estimates. Still it is not the place of a person in the military to make such determinations as to what is proper to be released.
At the same time I also feel that the circumstances surrounding Manning are most unique and demanded her release. The Department of Defense simply has no experience dealing with treatment for Manning’s gender dysphoria. Since she has been through the military criminal justice process, was found guilty, sentenced for her crimes, and served part of her sentence the best way forward was to commute her sentence.
I am grateful to President Obama for making a sound and reasoned decision about Manning. The well documented issues which Manning dealt with while growing up created a need to find some route to escape. The military was perhaps the worst choice possible. While there is no excuse for what happened once in the military with the leaking it does not take much empathy to know that the decision today was the most humane and just one that could be taken. Many are now hopeful and praying that some good will come for Manning that will positively impact others.