First of all, let’s get the legalism out of the way: Obama didn’t pardon Manning. The verdict stands. Obama shortened Manning’s sentence by a huge amount, commuting the original 35 years (of which Manning has served 6) to time served plus a few months.
The decision reportedly sent shock waves through the intelligence community:
The decision — which a senior defense official told CNN was made over the objections of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter — immediately touched off a controversy in the closing days of the Obama administration.
A former intelligence official described being “shocked” to learn of Obama’s decision, adding that the “entire intelligence community is deflated by this inexplicable use of executive power.” The official said the move was “deeply hypocritical given Obama’s denunciation of WikiLeaks’ role in the hacking of the (Democratic National Committee).”
Deeply hypocritical—as well as obviously hypocritical. So, why did Obama decide to do this?
Pundits on the right tend to think it was just a way of giving the right and the US the finger. I suppose so, but why did it take this particular form?
I think it may have to do with giving a shout-out to the LGBT community, particularly the “T” part, which seems to have become the most recent front in the battle against traditional America.
As the article states:
Manning, a transgender woman, was serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, an all-male Army prison in eastern Kansas, despite her request to transfer to a civilian prison.
Manning had also requested hormone treatment while in prison, and sued to get it. A hunger strike then brought on reassurances last September that the government would also be providing sex-reassignment surgery, but no timeline was set. Now it seems that the surgery won’t be happening while Manning is still in prison, and I’m not sure whether the government is still on the hook for it or whether private insurance (for example, this) will foot the bill.
Only forty-eight more hours of the Obama presidency.
By the way, I consider the decision by Obama to be an affront to the security of the United States and its intelligence community. The transgender issue is a separate one that, for me, is irrelevant here. But I don’t think it’s irrelevant to Obama; I think it was part of his motivation.
[ADDENDUM: I had never read Manning’s Wiki entry before, but it’s quite a document, particularly the part about Manning’s military service. Reading about Manning’s troubled past and trouble within the military, one wonders how a person with that resume ever received a sensitive job of any kind, or was allowed to stay in the military in the first place:
Manning began basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, on October 2, 2007. She wrote that she soon realized she was neither physically nor mentally prepared for it. Six weeks after enlisting, she was sent to the discharge unit. She was allegedly being bullied, and in the opinion of another soldier, was having a breakdown. The soldier told The Guardian: “The kid was barely five foot … He was a runt, so pick on him. He’s crazy, pick on him. He’s a faggot, pick on him. The guy took it from every side. He couldn’t please anyone.” Nicks writes that Manning, who was used to being bullied, fought back—if the drill sergeants screamed at her, she would scream at them—to the point where they started calling her “General Manning”.
The decision to discharge her was revoked [reason?], and she started basic training again in January 2008. After graduating in April, she moved to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, in order to attend Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 35F, intelligence analyst, receiving a TS/SCI security clearance (Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information). According to Nicks, this security clearance, combined with the digitization of classified information and the government’s policy of sharing it widely, gave Manning access to an unprecedented amount of material.
Please read the whole thing.
Was Manning promoted despite his/her obvious unfitness for the military because Manning’s superiors were afraid of being accused of being anti-gay? Manning openly identified as gay rather than transgender at the time, and so it’s a possibility.]