President Obama, Commute Manning's Sentence to Time Served

On August 21, U.S. citizen Bradley Manning - now known as Chelsea Manning -was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified information to the public about the killing of civilians in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; drone strikes in Yemen; torture in Guantanamo, Iraq, and Egypt; the coup in Honduras; corruption in Tunisia, the U.S. use of cluster bombs, and the blockade of Gaza, among many other issues of public concern about U.S. foreign policy.

As Amnesty International noted, Manning has already served more than three years in pre-trial detention, including 11 months in conditions described by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture as cruel and inhumane. Amnesty is calling on President Obama to commute Manning's sentence to time served.

Under the Constitution, the power of the President of the United States to grant clemency is absolute. It is not subject to Congressional or court review.

When there was a public debate in the United States about the U.S. use of torture during the Bush administration, many critics of the U.S. use of torture correctly said: "it's about who we are."

Manning's sentence is about who we are.

Commenting on the Manning verdict, the ACLU said:

When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. A legal system that doesn't distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability.

A cynic might say: What's the point of asking President Obama for clemency, when he's in charge of the system that put Manning in prison?

President Obama is indeed in charge of the system that put Manning in prison. That's why he's the correct address for the appeal for clemency.

President Obama was in charge when Manning spent "11 months in conditions described by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture as cruel and inhumane." But President Obama was also in charge when those conditions were changed. What made the change? Public pressure.

In a speech in New York in 1857 commemorating the abolition of slavery in the West Indies, anti-slavery activist Frederick Douglass said:

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters...Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Urge President Obama to commute Manning's sentence to time served.

The Geneva Accord is the International standard for the laws that have jurisdiction over questions regarding the following of orders by subordinates . This is often referred to as the "I was just following orders" argument, in defending a person who has committed some crime within the military, according to either a military or civil authority's legal view and judgment of that person's actions. --
IF Bradley Manning, now Chelsea, with a gender issue which I accept and respect as an individual right, had ignored the illegal actions of the U.S. Government, and had elected to hide behind the Government's superior officers, etc., while still working for the Government, thus avoiding his own responsibility regarding those alleged crimes-- then he could be in legal jeopardy with International legal authorities, if those alleged crimes extended, as they clearly do in his situation now, to serious crimes, potentially rising even to War Crimes and others. --
The "just following orders" in the Nazi war machine was judged to be an utterly cheap and insufficient defense. The moral issues carry the full weight of the higher laws, and require any person, of lower rank, to nonetheless act within established moral standards-- and not hide behind one's higher ranking officers, and their pressures to remain silent. --
In this sense, remaining silent is a significant crime, for which any person can and may be prosecuted. Therefore, according to Geneva Accords, Pfc. Bradley Manning acted in all senses, with legal and moral action, as he should have done. He has shown great courage, integrity, and patriotism. It is the leadership of the United States who has not done so. THEY are the ones who rightfully should be on trial in International Court.... not Pfc. Manning --
I believe that it would be absolutely appropriate, according to the Geneva Accords, that International legal proceedings would begin with you, Mr. President, and the so-called leaders of the U.S. Congress. and certain Military commanders. There might well be many others, culpable for these crimes. --
So surprise everybody, Mr. President, and honor this courageous and gender-confused soldier, Bradley or now, Chelsea Manning, who only acted, however embarrassing to you and your Administration, with unselfish honesty, with unusual focus on integrity above personal risk, totally disregarding his own well being, for the good of the nation, and every bit as much risk as someone engaged in active combat. Chelsea Manning was acting in this very highly principled manner and within the established criteria in the law, required for any subordinate soldier, as written in the Geneva Accords, long established, as you obviously know, immediately following the atrocities of the Nazis in World War II. According to these laws, to which the United States is a primary signatory, having helped create these laws from the beginning, after the infamous Nuremberg Trials, circa 1946, a soldier must act within his own moral judgment, not simply follow orders, including the orders to remain silent in the face of significant criminal actions and behaviors.
The above arguments, and the widely held belief among a majority of American citizens is that Bradley or Chelsea Manning was tortured, and has received one of the most unfair deals in recent memory-- and virtually the exact opposite of anything even close to justice. It is time to do the right thing, Mr. President. Listen to the American People. They want you to pardon Bradley/Chelsea Manning, and let him/her go free, with time served. Please do this for the good of Pfc. Manning, and for the entire country... We need something good to happen for a change, and this would be an excellent place to start on that reversal of fortunes. -- Yours truly, Richard Bliss Batterson,- Palmdale, California-

I really appreciate this petition and the fact that the language on the Just Foreign Policy site was altered to reflect Chelsea Manning's name change. However, the petition on the Move On site, as well as thank you notes and other associated materials still use Chelsea's old name and the incorrect pronoun. Could you please ensure that all of these instances are changed?

I also note that even the petition on the Just Foreign Policy site does not use feminine pronouns for Chelsea, instead repeating her last name where one might expect to find a pronoun. Affirming her identity by using feminine pronouns would be a clear measure of support and respect for Chelsea, who has done a great service to the world and has obviously suffered greatly through her imprisonment.

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