President Barack Obama’s decision to commute the sentence of one of America’s most notorious document leakers represents a major contradiction from a White House that has spent the past eight years denouncing leaks, CNN’s Jake Tapper noted Tuesday night.
Chelsea Manning, known then as Army Pvt. Bradley Manning leaked 750,000 pages of documents to WikiLeaks, which it published in 2010. The information included details of how American action in Iraq caused civilian deaths, as well as the names of individuals working with American forces in Afghanistan. Back in 2012, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison and dishonorably discharged.
Tapper said Obama’s action to commute Manning’s sentence contradicted everything the White House has said and done for the past eight years.
“President Obama has used the Espionage [Act] to go after leakers, more than every other president in history, combined,” Tapper said. “This has been a hallmark of his administration. It’s something that a lot of us in the media have objected to time and time again. And here he is, commuting the sentence of one of the most notorious leakers.”
“You could argue that Chelsea Manning did it for a good reason, to expose war crimes, or whatever case you want to make. But, it certainly contradicts the last eight years of policy in terms of leaking,” he said
Tapper read a statement from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
“When I was leading soldiers in Afghanistan, Private Manning was undermining us by leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks,” Cotton said in the statement.
“I don’t understand why the president would feel special compassion for someone who endangered the lives of our troops, diplomats, intelligence officers, and allies. We ought not treat a traitor like a martyr,” Cotton said.
Tapper said that Cotton’s statement “is how the White House, when I was White House correspondent, described Private Manning as well.”
“They were furious. They were outraged. They could — they thought that those of us in the press who were reading these WikiLeaks, that we were doing something wrong by reading them,” he said.
Although information Manning leaked exposed at least one atrocity, Tapper said what Manning did more than anything else was leak information on a scale no one imagined until then.
“… there were incidents, we should point out, there was an incident with the helicopter in Iraq, the first WikiLeak that came from Chelsea Manning, that seemed to suggest that the U.S. military had killed some innocent civilians. I do remember that, but it was I think the widespread, whole scale nature of this leak that was so shocking.”
Manning will be freed on May 17.
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