Obama Commutes Almost All of Chelsea Manning's Sentence

Manning was found guilty of stealing, disseminating troves of sensitive material

January 17, 2017

President Obama on Tuesday commuted the bulk of Chelsea Manning's 35-year prison sentence, which she received for providing classified information to WikiLeaks in 2010 pertaining to details of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Manning was found guilty in 2013 and her sentence was originally set to end on May 17, 2045. Now it will end in May of this year, taking 28 years off the conviction.

The sentence was the longest punishment ever imposed on an American for leaking information from military documents.

Manning, a transgender woman whose first name was Bradley at the time, was a low-level intelligence analyst in the Army deployed to Iraq when she copied 750,000 pages of military documents and videos. She sent the information to WikiLeaks, which subsequently published the sensitive information for the public to see.

Among the files leaked were over 250,000 sensitive diplomatic cables with dossiers providing intelligence assessments of Guantanamo Bay military prison detainees, as well as a video in which two Reuters journalists were killed in an airstrike, among other information.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday that Manning's leaks were "damaging to national security," but added that there was a big difference between her leaks and those of Edward Snowden.

Manning has been making headlines recently for trying two separate times to commit suicide in prison.

During Manning's trial, which was in military court, the prosecutors argued that when the sensitive information she stole was posted in a public forum, the internet, enemies like al Qaeda were able to gain access to the material to use against the United States.

She was charged with "treason, charging her with multiple counts of the Espionage Act as well as with 'aiding the enemy,' a potential capital offense, although they said they would not seek her execution," the New York Times reported.

Obama has given more clemencies to convicted criminals than any president in history. He has commuted 1,385 sentences for federal inmates while in the While House, more than the last 12 presidents combined, according to the Hill.

The president on Tuesday also pardoned Gen. James Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He pled guilty in October to making false statements to federal investigators in 2012.