From The Guardian
With a stroke of his pen, the president made up for his draconian record -- and, quite literally, saved this heroic whistleblower's life
There is no one who has suffered more under the US government's crackdown on leakers and whistleblowers than Chelsea Manning. But now, after President Obama commuted her unjust 35-year jail sentence on Tuesday, she will, amazingly, soon be able to walk free.
Manning, who provided journalists a historic treasure trove of documents and the public an unparalleled window into world diplomacy, will no longer have to spend the rest of her life behind bars. She will be released from prison on 17 May instead of the unconscionable 2045. It's a cause for celebration, but also a time for reflection -- not just about what she has gone through but what her case represents.
At the time of her revelations, she was the most important whistleblower since Daniel Ellsberg. Upon hearing the news today, Ellsberg said this: "Once in a while, someone does what they ought to do. Some go to prison for it, for seven years; some accept exile for life. But sometimes even a president does it. And today, it was Obama."
Many publications have tried to list the many stories her revelations have contributed to over the years, but almost all have fallen short. The State and Defense documents that were leaked by Manning -- originally to Wikileaks and published by the Guardian, New York Times and others -- are to this day cited regularly in the nation's largest newspapers. They provided historians and the public a view inside the US government's machinations that we've never seen before. They even helped end the Iraq war.
In response, the government quite literally tried to destroy her. Although the government admitted that no one was harmed because of her disclosures, Chelsea suffered beyond what is imaginable for most people.
She was held incommunicado during pre-trial confinement, so that the American people could not hear her voice and the explanation for what she did. She was then, according to the UN special rapporteur on torture, treated in a "cruel, inhumane and degrading way" before her trial by the US military.