miércoles, 18 de enero de 2017

Why shouldn't the President shorten the sentence of Chelsea Manning?

Pardon me, Mr Obama!

by Michael Cook

A Presidential commutation for Bradley/Chelsea Manning has created a storm of controversy. He/she was a US Army intelligence analyst who passed thousands of documents about the Iraq War to Wikileaks.

From a political point of view, it’s a complicated case. Manning pleaded guilty and accepted full responsibility for his/her actions. The documents endangered American lives – so he/she is a traitor. But they also revealed abuses of prisoners, showed a helicopter gunship killing innocent civilians in Bagdad and gave information on Guantanamo detainees – so he/she is a whistleblower.

In prison Manning tried to transition to a woman. Only after years of legal battles and two suicide attempts did authorities permit it. So commuting the sentence is smart transgender politics. But his/her 35-year sentence was far more severe than other whistleblowers received – so there is a case for mercy.

The shortened sentence sends two messages to the public. It trivialises the oath of secrecy and the importance of protecting national security. And it is a big fillip for the cause of transgenderism. Instead of languishing in prison as a traitor, Chelsea/Bradley will become a transgender celebrity.

But nearly all presidential pardons have been controversial and they always will be. The lucky recipients of a pardon are, by definition, criminals. Releasing them from jail always risks trivialising the offense.


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