Obama Just Commuted Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

The former US soldier is set to be released on May 17.

Obama: Evan Vucci/AP Photo; Manning: US Army

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


In a shocking announcement Tuesday afternoon, President Barack Obama commuted the remaining sentence of Chelsea Manning, the former US soldier found guilty of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. According to the New York Times:

The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male 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.

Now, under the terms of Mr. Obama’s commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed in five months, on May 17 of this year, rather than in 2045.

The news comes amid other high-profile commutations granted by the president as he prepares to leave office on Friday. One notable absence from the list of pardons on Tuesday, however, was Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who fled to Russia after disclosing classified information. When asked about the clemency applications of both Manning and Snowden last week, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest argued there was a “stark difference” between the two cases.

Journalist Katie Couric was on the phone with Chase Strangio, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing Manning, as news of the commutation broke:

“I’m relieved and thankful that the president is doing the right thing and commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence,” Strangio said in a statement released by the ACLU. “Since she was first taken into custody, Chelsea has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement—including for attempting suicide—and has been denied access to medically necessary health care. This move could quite literally save Chelsea’s life, and we are all better off knowing that Chelsea Manning will walk out of prison a free woman, dedicated to making the world a better place and fighting for justice for so many.”

Some conservatives, including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), however, were quick to condemn Obama’s decision to grant Manning a commutation. “We ought not treat a traitor like a martyr,” Cotton said.

This is a breaking story and we will update as more details become available.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate