Pardon Us: Bergdahl, Snowden Push for Clemency
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published December 11, 2016 by The Washington Times.
President Obama, who leaves office on Jan. 20, is getting an earful from liberals urging him to issue pardons in three high-profile national security cases.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is leading an effort to persuade him to grant clemency to convicted classified document leaker Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army private.
The ACLU, along with leftist billionaire George Soros, is also urging Mr. Obama to pardon Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who gave hundreds of thousands of classified intelligence documents to WikiLeaks and is living in exile in Russia.
Hailed as a whistleblower by the ACLU, Mr. Snowden cost the United States “critical foreign intelligence collection sources,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Congress in 2014.
“What Snowden has stolen and exposed has gone way, way beyond his professed concerns with so-called domestic surveillance programs. As a consequence, the nation is less safe and its people less secure.”
Meanwhile, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who faces an April 18 trial on desertion charges for leaving his unit in Afghanistan in 2009 and getting captured by the Taliban, is also seeking a presidential pardon.
Sgt. Bergdahl was released in May 2014 in exchange for five Taliban commanders who had been held at Guantnamo Bay. Mr. Obama appeared with Sgt. Bergdahl’s parents in the White House’s Rose Garden to announce the news.
National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice, whose credibility has been in question since she famously —- and erroneously —- claimed on national Sunday news programs that a YouTube video had triggered the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi in 2012, said Sgt. Bergdahl had served with “honor and distinction.”
This ticked off a lot of people, including men in his unit in Afghanistan who had conducted dangerous searches for the missing soldier.
Rep. Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican and Marine Corps veteran, warned in a letter this week to Mr. Obama that pardoning Sgt. Bergdahl would “seriously undermine the military court-martial process and send the wrong message to the hundreds of thousands of men and women in uniform who have served honorably in combat.”
As for Pfc. Manning, he was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents.
In 2010, then-Bradley Manning, who has since declared an identity as a transgender named Chelsea, gave WikiLeaks 250,000 diplomatic cables, nearly 400,000 military reports and a video of a 2007 U.S. airstrike in Baghdad that killed two Reuters employees.
Military officials testified that the publication of unredacted “war logs” from Iraq had likely put foreign nationals in jeopardy who had risked working with the United States.
Also, “a copy of the Afghanistan incident reports was found in Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound after the raid that killed him,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
The exposure of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables caused “headaches around the globe as the private stances of allied nations —- which sometimes differed from public comments —- were laid bare,” according to the Journal. “Officials have said the release of documents has made some nations more hesitant to share intelligence or work with the U.S.”
The letter sent on Manning’s behalf on Dec. 5 to President Obama was signed by the ACLU and 16 other LGBT or pro-LGBT organizations, including the National Organization for Women, Immigration Equality and the League of United Latin American Citizens.
The groups urge Mr. Obama to allow Manning “a first chance to live a real, meaningful life as the person she was born to be.”
In July, Manning attempted a suicide. On Sept. 13, Manning ended a four-day hunger strike after Army officials bowed to an ACLU demand that the government pay for male-to-female surgery for Manning, who is in an all-male prison in Leavenworth, Kansas and suffers from “gender dysphoria.”
“This is a monumental day for Chelsea Thankfully the government has recognized its constitutional obligation to provide Chelsea with the medical care that she needs,” said ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio in a press release.
The ACLU probably found the “constitutional obligation” to spend tax dollars to surgically turn a man into a woman somewhere between the “penumbras” and “emanations” that the Supreme Court first magically unveiled in 1973’s Roe v. Wade and whose spirit was conjured up again in last year’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling redefining marriage.
In other words, they just made it up.