Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Manning Files Formal Clemency Application

Photo: Mike Groll/AP
It is reported that Bradley Manning has filed a formal petition for clemency. Prosecutors had originally requested a 60 year prison sentence (out of a possible 90). But Manning's eventual sentence was 35 years (including over 1,200 days served). With good conduct, it has been reported that he would be eligible for parole after serving merely one-third of the sentence.

Thus, some are calling for a commutation (reduction) of the sentence. Others are calling for an outright pardon! And, other than institutional dysfunction, poor timing, extremely long odds, the exceptional high risk of political backlash and precious little executive incentive / evident interest ... why, this really might go somewhere.

True, President Obama waited longer than any Democratic president in American history to grant the first pardon of his administration. True, in terms of the number of pardons and commutations granted, President Obama's first term was the least merciful since the George Washington's first. True, President Obama grants about 1 in every 8,000 requests for commutation of sentence - compared to that Draconian law-and-order madman Richard Nixon, who granted 1 in every 15. True, the current U.S. Pardon Attorney has overseen more clemency petition rejections than all of his predecessors over the last 26 years combined! But ... still ... what a great headline a pardon petition makes!

More avid readers on the topic may have in mind these two comments, made by the President. The first was in relation to Scooter Libby:
This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security cements the legacy of an Administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division, one that has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law. This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people's faith in a government that puts the country's progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years - Barack Obama, July 2007.
The second was in relation to Mr. Manning:
So people can have philosophical views [about Bradley Manning] but I can’t conduct diplomacy on an open source [basis]… That’s not how the world works. And if you’re in the military… And I have to abide by certain rules of classified information. If I were to release material I weren’t allowed to, I’d be breaking the law. We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law - Barack Obama, April 2011.


Mark Osler said...

Here's what is annoying... his 0% chance petition gets way more attention than the ones mouldering away where there really should be serious consideration.

P.S. Ruckman, Jr. said...

EDITOR:Not to mention, if his application is actually treated like "any other," Obama will belong gone before it even reached his desk!

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