Critics say WH push for Chelsea Manning clemency would undermine military justice

The Army private responsible for a massive leak of classified documents to Wikileaks has reportedly made the short list for presidential clemency.

According to a report by The Independent, Pfc. Chelsea Manning (then known as Bradley Manning), who was sentenced to 35 years in prison, reportedly has attempted suicide twice in the last year.

Manning’s supporters believe it could be the last chance the former intelligence analyst receives for clemency for a long time. Manning had also gone on a hunger strike over the government’s refusal to provide gender-reassignment surgery.

US Army photo of PFC Chelsea Manning, then known as Bradley Manning.

US Army photo of PFC Chelsea Manning, then known as Bradley Manning.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has urged President Obama to pardon Manning, saying that “you alone” could save the 29-year-old’s life. Manning has been in solitary confinement for at least eight months, according to a column in the Guardian.

Manning was convicted of espionage in a July 2013 court-martial for handing the documents to Wikileaks. The documents pertained to the Global War on Terror, and according to a report by the Daily Caller, included diplomatic cables.

In September, the Daily Caller reported Manning was sentenced to two weeks in solitary confinement for a July suicide attempt. That report noted that Manning had provided Wikileaks with video of an attack by an AH-64 Apache against insurgents, during which two employees of the British news agency Reuters were also killed.

Activists March for Bradley Manning at the 2011 San Francisco Pride Parade. (Photo from Wikimedia commons).

Activists March for Bradley Manning at the 2011 San Francisco Pride Parade. (Photo from Wikimedia commons).

The September report by the Daily Caller noted that Manning could be eligible for parole after serving seven years of the 35-year sentence handed down at the court-martial.

The push for clemency, though, has its critics.

Following legal proceedings that protected PFC Manning’s rights of due process, he was ordered to pay the price for betraying his country,” Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness told WATM in a statement. “If President Obama grants clemency, he would set a problematic precedent that would have long-term consequences for national security.”

Retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, Senior Fellow for National Defense at the Family Research Council, also was critical of the potential clemency.

“Manning is serving time for treason, giving away secrets that endangered fellow soldiers,” he told WATM. “I have no sympathy for those who betray our country by committing treason.”

“Keep in mind when president’s grant clemency to those who were convicted by Courts Martial he is undermining the military justice system,” Maginnis added.