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Obama commutes sentence of Chelsea Manning

Although I’m sure plenty of people will (deliberately or otherwise) confuse the two, a commutation is not the same as a pardon.

When she is released next May, Manning will have been incarcerated since July 2010 (as opposed to the original 35-year sentence for espionage). That’s not nothing, and I can’t imagine anyone else being tempted to act as she did because she served “only” seven years.

The New York Times reports:

In recent days, the White House had signaled that Mr. Obama was seriously considering granting Ms. Manning’s commutation application, in contrast to a pardon application submitted on behalf of the other large-scale leaker of the era, Edward J. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who disclosed archives of top secret surveillance files and is living as a fugitive in Russia.

Asked about the two clemency applications on Friday, the White House spokesman, Joshua Earnest, discussed the “pretty stark difference” between Ms. Manning’s case for mercy with Mr. Snowden’s. While their offenses were similar, he said, there were “some important differences.”

“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” he said. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”

He also noted that while the documents Ms. Manning provided to WikiLeaks were “damaging to national security,” the ones Mr. Snowden disclosed were “far more serious and far more dangerous.” (None of the documents Ms. Manning disclosed were classified above the merely “secret” level.)

On the very long list of things to be outraged about these days, this just isn’t very high for me.

Update: Never mind.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Wednesday, via his lawyer, that President Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence does not meet the conditions of his offer to be extradited to the U.S. in return for the Army leaker’s release. “If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case,” WikiLeaks tweeted this year. However, according to a statement from his lawyer, “Mr. Assange welcomes the announcement that Ms. Manning’s sentence will be reduced and she will be released in May, but this is well short of what he sought. Mr. Assange had called for Chelsea Manning to receive clemency and be released immediately.” Assange has not been charged with a crime in the United States, but believes if he were to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, he could be extradited stateside for espionage-related charges. According to WikiLeaks, “Assange is still happy to come to the US provided all his rights are guarenteed [sic] despite White House now saying Manning was not quid-quo-pro [sic].”

Too bad. I was looking forward to seeing what the Trump administration would do about Assange. Would they seek to extradite and prosecute a man whom Trump seems to hold in some regard?

Further update: From The Washington Post’s The Fix:

On Fox News earlier this month, a candidly self-aware Greg Gutfeld joked about conservatives’ inconsistencies.

“I have advice to Chelsea Manning: Start bashing Obama,” Gutfeld, a Fox News host, said. “The Republicans are going to love you. … She should actually — she should say that she believes that Donald Trump is doing the right thing, and then all of a sudden we’ll love Chelsea Manning just the way we now love Assange.”