Chelsea Manning to be out of prison on May 17

In one of his final moves in office, president Obama has commuted the 35-year sentence that was given to Chelsea Manning to mostly the time already served and she will be released on May. Alex Emmons reports:

While serving as an army intelligence analyst, Manning sent hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic and military documents to Wikileaks, revealing, among other things, a dramatically higher civilian death count in Iraq and Afghanistan than the Pentagon revealed publicly, and the chilling video of a U.S. Apache helicopter gunning down journalists in central Baghdad.

Even with her sentence commuted, Manning will have spent more time in detention than anyone convicted of leaking to news organizations: Just over seven years. After being arrested in 2010, she endured 11 months of solitary confinement, and was repeatedly denied medical care for her gender dysphoria.

In September, Manning staged a five-day hunger strike, and ended it only after the Army allowed her to consult a surgeon to receive gender-affirming surgery. Later that month, the Army punished Manning in retaliation for a suicide attempt, and she spent a week in solitary confinement.

This is wonderful news. Human rights groups have hailed the decision. But Manning will face a difficult transition to life outside and will need all the help she can get. She will also have to fend off those who think she is a traitor for revealing that the US is not fighting noble wars with high moral standards. Life will be particularly difficult, even dangerous, if Donald Trump decides to use Twitter to unleash his hate-minions on her.


  1. says

    I wish I could hope that Obama had done it for the right reasons. But since he’s passed on those all along, I assume he’s just doing it to troll the extremists who hate him. After all, he left her languishing in prison until the very last minute; I guess he didn’t have a jot, tittle, or iota of political capital to spend on her -- but would do it to thumb his nose at Trump. The country is run by assholes.

    I’m glad for Chelsea and I hope she’s safe. Hopefully some civilized country will take her in.

  2. says


    I assume he’s just doing it to troll the extremists who hate him.

    For better and for worse, he’s less petty than that but much more calculating. Perhaps the point of the exercise is to paint Snowden in a much worse light by comparison. If so, the media sure took the bait on that one.

  3. says

    Really, I don’t care why he did it. Yes, he let Chelsea languish for far too long, but she’s going to be free. And I’ll be one of those rallying to support her once she’s out. Raising money, sending gifts, showing support on public platforms… anything and everything I can do.

    As for President Obama… well… I’ve got a blog post coming up for him…

  4. says

    Iris Vander Pluym @2

    I think there is a valid case to be made that Obama allowed the UN to punish Israel (for once) not because of their endless violations of human rights or their expansionist war on Palestine (he had 8 years to fight for that cause) but to put Netanyahu in his place after his openly biting the hand that feeds in 2015

    That seems plenty petty to me.
    It appears to me that he’s running against time to finish all the shitty neoliberal policies he expected Hillary to follow up on, and that releasing Chelsea Manning is a gesture draw attention away from the crummy shit he’s desperately trying to complete and the fact that he was the one who locked her up in the first place.

  5. Dunc says

    Yes, he let Chelsea languish for far too long

    I’m not sure that this is quite the right phrasing, given Obama’s very active and deliberate persecution of whistleblowers. Manning’s imprisonment isn’t something Obama let happen, it’s something he made happen.

    Yes, it’s great that she will no longer be tortured by the state, but I’m not going to praise her torturer for finally relenting -- and at the last possible moment for which he could claim credit.

  6. lanir says

    It occurs to me that delaying it until March allows for something to go wrong in the meantime. I have no idea if there are loopholes that would allow them to add time to that or not. Either way it should be instructive to hear how she’s treated over the next two months.

  7. jrkrideau says

    She will also have to fend off those who think she is a traitor for revealing that the US is not fighting noble wars with high moral standards.

    Hopefully there are a number of countries who will welcome a hero.

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