President Obama has a history of denouncing leaks. Most recently, the ongoing debate about the level of Russian influence in last year’s election has taken center stage as Obama kicked out 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian properties after alleging that the Russian government attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by hacking and then releasing private emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Those recent actions by Obama raise significant questions regarding the commutation of Chelsea Manning announced by the White House on Tuesday. Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, had been convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking nearly a million government documents to WikiLeaks.
Western Journalism reported that CNN’s Jake Tapper, took issue with the about face that Obama made in commuting Manning’s sentence.
“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,” Tapper continued. “But it certainly contradicts the last eight years of policy in terms of leaking.”
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., also commented on Obama’s commutation.
“When I was leading soldiers in Afghanistan, Private Manning was undermining us by leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks,” Cotton announced in a 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.”
Tapper concluded that Cotton’s remarks were in line with his own experiences when he was a White House correspondent and that the actions taken on Tuesday represent a marked shift in policy toward whistle blowers and anyone who leaks secure information.
Source: Western Journalism