Chelsea Manning, the transgender Army intelligence analyst imprisoned in 2010 for leaking 700,000 military files and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks, is on President Barack Obama's "short list" of possible prison sentence commutations, according to a new report from NBC News. Obama could make his decision in the very near future, possibly even today.
The four former and current members of the Army intelligence community who spoke anonymously with NBC News described Manning's sentence as "excessive," and said her leaks were far less serious than those of Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who also leaked sensitive information. This morning on Twitter, Snowden called for Obama to pardon Manning.
Manning is currently serving the seventh year of a 35-year sentence. At the time of her imprisonment, she was known as Bradley, and obtained gender reassignment surgery in 2016 after a successful hunger strike. She is currently imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and is being held in conditions that the UN torture chief described in 2012 as "cruel and inhumane," after finding that Manning was kept in solitary confinement for nearly a year. Since her sentencing, Manning has attempted suicide twice, and received one week in solitary confinement after the most recent incident.
Obama was criticized in 2011 for "unlawful command influence," when the President said "He broke the law" in an interview that took place during Manning's trial. Obama also dismissed comparisons to Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst behind the 1971 Pentagon Papers leaks, saying Ellsberg's leak "wasn’t classified in the same way." However, Ellsberg has been one of Manning's most vocal supporters since her imprisonment.