Carolina Sanchez/Contributing Writer
On Tuesday, Jan. 17, former President of the United States Barack Obama chose a controversial way to leave office.
Against his secretary of defense’s wishes, Obama overruled the sentence of former Army soldier Chelsea Manning and scheduled her release for May 17, 2017.
Manning was convicted for leaking confidential videos and documents to WikiLeaks and was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being found guilty of 20 out of a total 22 counts. Manning, however, has only served seven of the original 35 years.
Manning is also a transgender female and has been imprisoned at a maximum-security prison for men in Kansas since 2013. Manning, Obama acknowledged, served a “tough prison sentence,” and believed that it more than appeased her punishment.
However, even though Manning has been acquitted of the most severe crime, “aiding the enemy,” many consider the commute of her sentence an insult nonetheless. In addition to violating basic Army procedure, her actions placed many at risk.
Most of the controversy surrounding Manning’s incarceration and prospective release is due to the ambiguity behind the intention of her actions. Many Manning supporters argue that she was a victim to poor basic training and was predisposed to such actions as a result. Others argue that she was a naive soldier and did not comprehend the sensitivity of such documents.
Contrastingly, many believe that despite her lack of knowledge and basic training, her actions were still an inherent breach of army regulations.
Though Manning’s actions were explicitly illicit, 35 years seems an excessive sentence, all things considered. Commuting her sentence after seven years does seem a more plausible punishment.
Furthermore, more should have been done on the Army’s part to prevent access to such “confidential” files and documents.
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