Why Did Obama Grant Clemency to Manning?

The bona fide war criminal Barack Obama commuted the unjust prison sentence of political prisoner and courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning (along with Oscar López Rivera and others). It is a big deal. But does it mitigate the numerous heinous crimes of Barack Obama?

First, there are plenty of other political prisoners who are still languishing in the American gulag. Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal spring immediately to mind. Also there are still 45 people incarcerated at Gitmo, a facility that Obama promised to close on Day 1 of his presidency (he blames Republicans for his failure to close Gitmo).

Obama commuted Manning’s sentence; he didn’t pardon her, meaning that Manning is still considered guilty of telling the world of war crimes committed by the US in Iraq. For releasing the below video of a war crime Manning has been tortured, imprisoned, denied medication, and held in solitary confinement.

Obama considers the incarceration that has lasted almost seven years to be justice: “I feel very comfortable that justice has been served,” he said.

After watching the video, the viewers can judge for themselves whether Manning obeyed her conscience and did the right thing by releasing it.

The video is clear evidence of an undeniable truth. As such Manning is a truth teller, and he was imprisoned for making the truth known. Those opposed to the dissemination of truth are interested in controlling the truth. It is about power, As George Orwell wrote in Nineteen Eighty-Four: “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power.”

To date, the gleeful killers in the collateral murder video have never been brought to justice or punished. That is the usual for US-administered justice.

Why did Obama grant clemency to Manning?

Chelsea Manning’s friend and free speech activist Evan Greer, when asked why Obama released Manning, said on CBC Radio’s As It Happens that because of a groundswell of international pressure against the “inhumane” and “egregious” treatment of Manning Obama had no choice if wanted to avoid a “permanent stain on his legacy.” If Greer’s assessment is correct, then does Obama deserve any accolades for doing the right thing? Or was it actually a selfish act?

And just what is justice to Obama, a president who plays judge, jury, and executioner when he orders drone attacks on persons designated enemies, and with minimal concern for the safety of people nearby? One must not forget that the Nobel Peace laureate Obama has been perpetually at war during his presidency.

Perhaps the only boost to his integrity would be to return the Nobel, submit himself to an international tribunal, and come clean on the crimes he, and his administration, have committed during his time in office.

I would not hold my breath on this ever coming to pass.

Political Prisoners not Released

Meanwhile, there are other political prisoners awaiting delayed justice. In particular, attention has shifted to Julian Assange who has been a virtual political prisoner for years without charge against him. The United Nations Human Rights Council called for the United Kingdom and Sweden to ensure Assange’s liberty, protection, and enjoyment of fundamental human rights. The UK and Sweden, however, continue to ignore international law.

Assange made a promise to accept extradition to the US if Obama granted clemency to Manning. But Manning’s release won’t be until May 17.

Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at: kimohp@gmail.com. Twitter: @kimpetersen. Read other articles by Kim.