Obama pardons Manning as his presidency comes to an end

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Chelsea Manning in a US Army photo in 2012
Chelsea Manning in a US Army photo in 2012

In a questionable move objected to by the Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of former Army soldier Chelsea Manning. Manning, was convicted of stealing and disseminating over 750,000 pages of classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks.

Obama’s decision didn’t sit well with the intelligence community. A former intelligence official said the move was, “deeply hypocritical given Obama’s denunciation of WikiLeaks’ role in the hacking of the (Democratic National Committee).”

Manning is a transgender woman. She was serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth Army prison in Kansas despite her requests to be transferred to a civilian prison. The material she leaked, which WikiLeaks published in 2010, included a video of a United States helicopter attacking civilians and journalists in Iraq three years earlier. Though convicted of several serious charges, Manning was not convicted of the most serious, which was aiding the enemy. That charge would have had Manning sentenced to life in prison.

The commuting of Manning’s sentence will take effect on May 17, 2017. The commutation of the sentence only shortens the time required to serve. It does not expunge the record of the person convicted of a crime.