Could Barack Obama set Wikileaks’ most infamous and prodigious source free in his final nine days as president? NBC News reports this morning that the outgoing president has Bradley/Chelsea Manning on the shortlist for potential commutations and pardons as Obama prepares to exit the White House. Manning has served nearly seven years on a 35-year sentence for exposing 750,000 classified documents and communiqués, one of the largest breaches in US history:
President Obama has put Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified material, on his short list for a possible commutation, a Justice Department source told NBC News.
A decision could come as soon as Wednesday for Manning, who has tried to commit suicide twice this year and went on a hunger strike in a bid for gender reassignment surgery.
“I have more hope right now than I have the entire time since she was sentenced,” Manning’s aunt, Deborah Manning, told NBC News.
If so, get ready for some wicked whiplash on Wikileaks. For the past six or seven months, Obama and his fellow Democrats have been on the rampage over Wikileaks’ publication of internal DNC and John Podesta e-mails, and have painted Wikileaks as either a Russian front or a stooge for Vladimir Putin’s intelligence operations. The White House published an assessment from US intelligence that reached that conclusion, and just a week ago Josh Earnest said Obama had “complete confidence” in that conclusion:
Q And just on the WikiLeaks — Julian Assange did an interview in which he — with Fox News in which he says that the administration — first of all, he says that WikiLeaks did not receive its information from a state actor, and, second of all, says that there are essentially holes in the case that the administration has laid out about the role that WikiLeaks had, that WikiLeaks wasn’t mentioned in anything that the President or anybody has said about this, and that this means that you guys must not be sure that there is a connection there. What’s your response to that?
MR. EARNEST: My response is that the President has complete confidence in the assessment that’s been put forward by the intelligence community, and there’s no reason to doubt it.
Q And that WikiLeaks received — that there’s no lack of mentioning WikiLeaks for any purpose, or — what Assange is talking about is that you guys didn’t say — you’ve connected it to the Russians, but you haven’t said, well, then it went to WikiLeaks from the Russians, that that’s just semantics, essentially, from Assange?
MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I didn’t see the entirety of his — I didn’t see much of any of his interview, so it’s hard for me to respond directly in kind. I think what I can tell you is the President has complete confidence in the assessment that’s been put forward by the intelligence community.
If that’s the case, why would Obama commute the sentence of one of Wikileaks’ main resources? The Today segment helps to paint Manning as a whistleblower, but whistleblowers don’t steal hundreds of thousands of classified documents indiscriminately, and put them in the hands of Russian stooges or Russian fronts. Obama accused Russia of using Wikileaks to undermine American democracy with its hack on the DNC, but Manning’s espionage did much worse damage to American diplomacy and its war efforts, an outcome that couldn’t have displeased Moscow. Pardoning or commuting Manning’s sentence would be a rehabbing of Wikileaks and would undermine all of the arguments made by Obama and Democrats over the last few months about its nature and its threat to the US.
Clearly, though, Obama wants to do it anyway. Otherwise, the White House wouldn’t have floated this trial balloon in the first place. Let’s see how many other Democrats will be willing to do an about-face on Wikileaks as a “whistleblower” organization rather than the Russian-stooge group in their current narrative. Perhaps the media should start asking Democrats about that — starting with Hillary Clinton and John Podesta.