President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.
The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to kill herself last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the men’s military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.
Bradley Manning, who has declared himself a woman who goes by the name of Chelsea, is a convicted <deltraitor spy (he was convicted of an espionage charge, not treason). According to the Times, this is what he did:
Ms. Manning was still known as Bradley Manning when she deployed with her unit to Iraq in late 2009. There, she worked as a low-level intelligence analyst helping her unit assess insurgent activity in the area it was patrolling, a role that gave her access to a classified computer network.
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 probably much higher than official estimates.
The files she copied also included about 250,000 diplomatic cables from American embassies around the world showing sensitive deals and conversations, dossiers detailing intelligence assessments of Guantánamo detainees held without trial, and a video of an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in which two Reuters journalists were killed, among others.
She decided to make all these files public, as she wrote at the time, in the hope that they would incite “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.” WikiLeaks disclosed them — working with traditional news organizations including The New York Times — bringing notoriety to the group and its founder, Julian Assange.
There is a reason that Dante puts traitors in the lowest circle of the Inferno: because no one is safe if they have to worry about their own comrades betraying them to the enemy. I don’t care that what Bradley Manning revealed was, in part, military wrongdoing. If he felt so strongly about it, he ought to have been willing to take the punishment for his crime. He put the lives of many people at risk, and severely damaged the ability of men and women under arms to trust each other. In a not too distant age, he would have been executed.
Instead, he got prison — and he also got sob-story liberals like The New York Times to run pieces about how agonizing it was for him not to be able to masquerade as a woman while in jail, for treason:
Court documents show that Ms. Manning has had counseling sessions with a prison psychologist, Dr. Ellen Galloway, at least once a week, and military authorities have over time allowed her access to some treatments doctors prescribed for her gender dysphoria, in part because of pressure from a lawsuit filed by Chase Strangio, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, in September 2014.
She can now wear female prison undergarments, including a sports bra, and “subdued cosmetics.” In early 2015, she was permitted to get speech therapy to feminize the tone and pitch of her voice and began cross-sex hormone therapy prescribed, Mr. Strangio said, by an endocrinologist brought in from the military’s Walter Reed hospital.
Since then, Ms. Manning wrote, she has developed breasts and curvier hips. “There have been significant changes since I’ve been taking the hormones, and I am happy with them,” she said.But, citing security risks, the military rejected the recommendation of an outside psychologist who said she should be permitted to further feminize her appearance by growing her hair longer than male military standards. Mr. Strangio is helping her challenge that restriction.
“Plaintiff feels like a freak and a weirdo — not because having short hair makes a person less of a woman — but because for her, it undermines specifically recommended treatment and sends the message to everyone that she is not a ‘real’ woman,” he wrote in a court filing.
This penis-having traitor suffers because people might not think she is a “real woman”. Think about that. Manning suffers serious psychological problems, and has tried to commit suicide. He should receive medical treatment — but not boobs grown at taxpayer expense on his traitorous breast, and not liberty for breaking his oath under arms.
Obama also commuted the sentence of an unrepentant Puerto Rican terrorist. Oscar Lopez Rivera was a leader of a terrorist group that killed and maimed innocent people in bombings:
When López Rivera was arrested in 1981, the FBI found six pounds of dynamite and four blasting caps in his Chicago apartment along with numerous fake IDs. He was convicted in federal court of seditious conspiracy, violation of the Hobbs Act, illegal weapons possession, and interstate transportation of stolen motor vehicles.
In 1988, his original sentence was extended 15 years after authorities disrupted an escape plot that included a plan to murder prison guards.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton offered to commute the sentences of 16 imprisoned FALN members. Most accepted, but López Rivera choked on the condition that he renounce his terrorist past. In 1998, he’d told a reporter, “The whole thing of contrition, atonement, I have problems with that.”
Didn’t matter. Obama let him go.
The point of a presidential pardon or sentence commutation is to show mercy. Why did Lopez Rivera deserve mercy? He wasn’t even sorry for the blood on his hands. Lest you doubt the savagery of this terrorist’s crimes:
— Michael C Moynihan (@mcmoynihan) January 17, 2017
I actually find the Lopez commutation more infuriating. At least Manning admitted guilt and expressed remorse.
But come on: if Chelsea Manning were a heterosexual cisgendered convicted traitor, do you really believe that he would be getting out of jail so early in his prison sentence? “We ought not treat a traitor like a martyr,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, an Iraq war veteran. Ah, but liberal America’s politics of sacred identities can work alchemy, as President Obama demonstrated today.
UPDATE: I was thinking just now why this case made me so angry. And then it hit me. About 25 years ago, I shared an apartment with a gay friend, a college buddy, and helped him get settled and started. He ended up walking out on our lease and skipping town, owing me $800 and leaving me scrambling to find someone to take his room, because I couldn’t afford the apartment on my own. That was bad enough, but I had also loaned him my laptop so he could compose his resume and hunt for work. I found out later, after he had skipped town, that he had gone into my private e-mails, read them all, and distributed information he found good and gossipy, all at my expense. And while doing all that behind my back, he told his friends that it was okay, because I was a conservative, and therefore part of the oppressor class. They agreed, apparently. The fact that I was a conservative justified his betrayal in his mind, because conservatives oppressed gay people. Never mind that we had been friends for years, and that he stole information and money from me, while I thought he was a good friend who deserved my help.
No wonder the Chelsea Manning case infuriates me so. It felt personal in ways I had not anticipated at first.
UPDATE.2: Liberal people, honestly. The update above has nothing to do with the justice (or not) of Obama’s commutation of Manning’s sentence. It only speaks to why the commutation may have made me a bit angrier than it otherwise might have: the idea that pity for Manning’s sexual and gender status was seen as exculpatory by many liberals, possibly even the President. The gay roommate I had stole private information from my computer and disseminated it among his friends for their entertainment, and justified what he did because he was gay and I, as a conservative, was part of the oppressor class, and whatever he did against me was justified in advance. My complaint here is not against Manning, but against liberals who have made him a hero at least in part because he’s a poor put-upon transgender — as if that made him less culpable for his crimes. Again, that’s not Manning’s fault, but it was the fault of a certain kind of liberal.