Yesterday Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning — convicted as Bradley Manning — who, in a 2010 leak to Wikileaks, revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world. Manning will be released in May.LTC West quoted the words of House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry in making the case against Manning: “Inmate Manning was convicted of multiple acts of espionage against the United States and other serious military misconduct. These actions potentially put our country and fellow soldiers at serious risk. The President’s commutation of Manning’s sentence sends a terrible message to the world that the penalties for damaging our security can be swayed by politics.”
Manning’s reprieve came yesterday, but that wasn’t the only commutation proffered. Even those who agree with Manning’s commutation will have to cringe at Obama’s latest. As the Washington Examiner reported:
President Obama on Tuesday granted clemency to Oscar Lopez Rivera. He has been in federal prison since 1981 after being convicted of armed robbery, weapons charges, and seditious conspiracy to violently overthrow the U.S. government as a member of the Puerto Rican separatist group FALN.
The Chicago and New York cells of FALN planted approximately 120 bombs throughout the U.S. from 1974 to 1983, including one at the U.S. Capitol in the final year. Rivera’s apartment had served as the headquarters for his own team’s bomb-making efforts.In the years following his sentencing, some politicians and entertainers called him innocent or the next nearest thing, a political prisoner. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., has lobbied the Obama administration to grant commutation of his sentence. Obama on Tuesday ordered Lopez-Rivera be let go effective May 17.
In 1999, former President Bill Clinton granted clemency to most FALN members. Lopez-Rivera refused the offer for a number of reasons. The Clinton commutation offer did not include his particular codefendants and would still have required him to serve 10 years of a 15-year sentence for an attempted jailbreak.
Among those defending this decision are Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, who lectured Mike Pence on tolerance and diversity back in November.
… and domestic terrorist Bill Ayers
Oscar Lopez freed!
Chelsea Manning out!!!
Great news! Joy an Justice!
— Bill Ayers (@WilliamAyers) January 17, 2017
In his last week as president, Obama has managed to guarantee that it’s not just terrorists jailed Guantanamo Bay that he’ll lend a helping hand to.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]