Should President Obama pardon Chelsea Manning?

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, now Chelsea, (right) is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., on June 25, 2012. (AP photo)

“The U.S. soldier convicted of providing secret files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of classified materials in the nation’s history has asked for a presidential pardon, supporters said on Wednesday,” writes Reuters reporter Ian Simpson.

The request for Chelsea, formerly known as Bradley, Manning, was filed by attorney David Coombs on Tuesday, according to a statement on the Pardon Private Manning website.

“I urge you to consider this matter closely and to take a positive step towards protecting whistleblowers who release information to the media for the public good by either reducing Private Manning’s sentence to time served, or by granting him a full pardon,” Coombs said in a letter to President Barack Obama via the Justice Department and to Army Secretary John McHugh carried on the website.

The application includes a supporting letter from Amnesty International. … A court-martial convicted Manning, 25, in July of 20 charges, including espionage and theft, for providing more than 700,000 classified files, videos and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, a pro-transparency website.

Today’s Question: Should President Obama pardon Bradley Manning (now known as Chelsea) the U.S. soldier convicted of providing secret files to WikiLeaks, in the biggest breach of classified materials in the nation’s history?

  • Gary F

    “I urge you to consider this matter closely and to take a positive step towards protecting whistleblowers who release information to the media for the public good by either reducing Private Manning’s sentence to time served, or by granting him a full pardon,”

    For the public good? Mr. Coombs, you need to change your bongwater once in a while.

  • Rich in Duluth

    No
    Manning broke the law and should suffer the consequences that he should have known would follow.

    However, this does not mean that I think he did the wrong thing. If a thing is worth doing, it should also be worth the personal costs of doing that thing.

  • Sue de Nim

    No. Neither should s/he be a scapegoat for those who set up such an unsecure information system that could be so easily compromised by by one self-appointed referee of government righteousness.

  • PaulJ

    If the whistleblower law needs to be fixed do that first and then sentence her.

  • Jim G

    Yes… but only as he leaves office in 2016. The system was ripe for plucking. How does a PFC get any Top Secret clearances in the first place? It’s an Alice in Wonderland moment with the authorities just as culpable in creating such an easily defeated security system.

  • mason

    No, because Manning was not a whistle blower. He did a blind data dump and had no idea what was in the vast majority of documents he gave out.

    Whistle blowers have a specific crime/injustice that they want to public to made aware of, like Snowden did. Manning is nothing more than a bad soldier trying to get back at an organization he couldn’t handle being in.

  • Abbey

    Definitely. I understand she leaked sensitive information, but it was information that the public deserved to know. How will anyone in the future have the courage to stand up for what is right if we treat her so harshly?

    • Barb

      Abbey, the public doesn’t need to know everything the government does. Why not just tell the whole world and jeopardize our security some more. Will you feel safe in your bed then?

      • Fred Garvin

        The gov’t is ours–IT’S OUR GOVERNMENT.
        Giving up our freedoms makes NO ONE ANY SAFER.

  • david

    It wouldn’t be outrageous given the history of previous presidential pardons. Did Manning do anything worse then the creeps involved in Watergate or any of Nixon’s other shenanigans, or Reagan and the Iran contra crimes, or Bush’s own Scooter Libby? Hard to know what real harm or good Manning is responsible for. Our country seems more interested in pointing fingers and gossiping about the trial and if he should be a she than actually looking at what was leaked and what light it has shown on this nation’s hypocrisy and criminal activity. If we did take a little more time for some introspection we might not be rushing off to drop millions of dollars of bombs on other people during their civil war.

    • Fred Garvin

      Which “Iran contra crimes” are you referring to?

      • KTN

        The ones that sent that patriot, Oliver North to prison for his felony conviction.

        Oh, and selling arms, that were later used against us.

        • Fred Garvin

          1. Oliver North never went to prison.
          2. Which weapons from Iran Contra were used against us?
          Really, you’re factually lost here.

          • KTN

            The fact he didn’t spend time in prison does not negate the fact he is a convicted felon.

            The ones in Afghanistan, like the ones killing our military right now.

          • Fred Garvin

            1. Oliver North is not a convicted felon.
            2. Iran Contra did not involve any weapons to Afghanistan.
            PLEASE, you’re embarrasing yourself.
            Do you work for MPR?

          • Ralfy

            North was indicted with 16 felony charges and in the first round of trial, he was found guilty of the first 3. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison, 2 years probation, fined $150,000 and given over 1,000 community service. Though his conviction was vacated because he had been granted immunity for his testimony, I think it is fair to regard him as a convicted felon. The arms in question were sent to Iran, the money to Noriega in Panama to fight a proxy war on Nicaragua on behalf of the US. The money was also used to finance a drug smuggling operation in Central America

          • Fred Garvin

            “Vacated convictions” are not convictions. Indeed it would be 100% UNFAIR to describe him a convicted felon because well, he has no felony convictions.
            And so, NO WEAPONS from Iran Contra ever would up in Afghanistan as KTN claimed, right?
            Do you Ralfy, work for MPR? Yes or no?

          • Ralfy

            No I don’t work for MPR. Why do you ask? Do you work for Fox?
            Neither question is relevant to the discussion.
            I didn’t say weapons ended up in Afghanistan, I said they went to Iran (hence, the Iran in the affair). Yes, North’s conviction was vacated, but the fact is, he was convicted. Vacated does not mean innocent or not guilty, it means he made a deal. The money going to the Contras was specifically forbidden by congress via the Boland Amendment, the weapons going Iran in violation of an US embargo. Did North take one for the team to protect President Reagan?

          • Fred Garvin

            ” Vacated does not mean innocent or not guilty, it means he made a deal. ”
            No, that’s not what it means.
            “The money going to the Contras was specifically forbidden by congress via the Boland Amendment,”
            As Obama would argue, it is unconstitutional for Congress to interfere with the executive branches’ powers in that way.
            ” the weapons going Iran in violation of an US embargo. ”
            The president sets the policy; the president can ignore his own policies!
            “Did North take one for the team to protect President
            Reagan?”
            North took one for the American people and the Nicaraguan people for which we all are indebted.

  • JQP

    No. I’m not a fan of the instant pardon. In fact, i don’t think any sitting president should be able to pardon anyone convicted while they are sitting.

    I may find the outcome of what PFC Manning did interesting and enlightening, but he/she has to accept that it was done with the knowledge of it being an illegal act. Getting caught means serving time.

    Perhaps in a few years … some other president can review the facts at that time and determine that a pardon is warranted.

  • Zoldar

    Rather than a full pardon, he should commute her sentence to something shorter. Keep it in line with what others got.

    She may have had good intentions, but she was reckless in what she did. There should be some punishment, proportional to what others got.

  • mkwallace13

    Yes. No conditions. She courageously informed the people what was being hidden by our government — a hero, not a traitor.

  • Barb

    Absolutely NOT! This generation thinks that anything they do can and will be forgiven just because they ask nicely. Well he should have thought it through before he did it. He thinks this is all a game with the smiling at the press and all. Wake up this generation and make them responsible for what they’ve done or plan to do!!!

  • Fred Garvin

    Who will pardon Obama for his crimes?
    Where do US citizens go for justice after being targeted by this administration?
    At least 2 US citizens have been murdered by the order of this president without charge, trial, conviction, or appeal; another US citizen was the subject of pprejudical comnets comments before and after his trial. An officer of the law was called “stupid” for arresting one of Obama’s friends. One year ago, Obama talked Syria about his red line; this past week he lied about the red line being his. 4 dead in Benghazi while Obama plays cards. AND ON AND ON.
    What did this Manning do? Reveal the crimes of the Obama Administration? 30 years for exposing the naked emperor?

    • KTN

      The 2 people you speak of, are they the enemy combatants, who had both declared their intent to wage war against the U.S (which more or less relinquishes your status as citizen).. Do they deserve a trial? Their killing was both legal, and moral.

      • Fred Garvin

        No, that’s not the law.
        One cannot lose his US citizenship without a hearing. Afroyim v. Rusk (1967).

        Even so, whether they were or were not “enemy combatants” is again, one for judicial review.
        NO US PRESIDENT has ever ordered the murder of US citizens without some judicial review…
        until Obama.

        • KTN

          Really, except that President Roosevelt had issued an order to kill Admiral Yamamoto after the attack at Pearl Harbor. This killing, against an enemy, like those killed by the drones would have been legal and moral. Are you arguing that those citizens that take up arms against the government are legally entitled to due process? The law would say otherwise.

          • Fred Garvin

            1. Yamamoto was not a US citizen.
            2. Yes, the law is quite clear–US citizens are entitled to due process.

  • kurt

    Yes absolutely, Chelsea Manning should be pardoned, but I’m not holding my breath here. Obama has clearly cast his lot with the wealthy 1% and the military-industrial-prison complex they run and those are the only ones he will pardon at the end of his term if at all. If there were any justice Obama would have his peace prize revoked and put on trial along with the real terrorists: those who profit off the rape of the planet while sowing doubt in the public’s mind about global warming; those who pay poverty wages while demanding more cuts to social programs and tax cuts for the rich; those who profit off endless wars which the children of the working poor are sent off to fight and die in. I never thought I’d live to see such an Orwellian administration, whose commander-in-chief says, with a straight face, that war is peace, that a police state equals security and those who struggle for freedom are enemies of the state. But it’s the Mannings and the Snowdens of this world that give me hope, not the phoney hope Obama duped us with.

  • R RS

    A question for everyone to consider:

    Has it been fully established that the USA’s interests or if anyone has been actually harmed by these disclosures?

    If the answer is negative, then President Obama should consider granting a pardon.

    So many people claim to be “Christian” and insist this is a Christian nation. If that is the case then they need to be mindful that forgiveness is the hallmark of true Christianity.