President Barack Obama on Tuesday commuted all but the last four months of whistleblower Chelsea Manning's 35-year prison sentence. Manning, a former Army intelligence officer, has already served six years for releasing to WikiLeaks classified documents revealing U.S. war crimes in Iraq. She was one of 209 inmates who received a presidential commutation this week.
Twitter reactions were largely partisan: the left of the political spectrum saw overturning Manning's excessive sentence as a victory for government transparency and accountability; the right saw Manning as a Benedict Arnold figure.
"This is just outrageous," wrote House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, in a statement on Tuesday. "Chelsea Manning's treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation's most sensitive secrets. President Obama now leaves in place a dangerous precedent that those who compromise our national security won't be held accountable for their crimes."
The worst of the worst, however, managed to either weave transphobia — Chelsea was born Bradley Manning — into their assessment of the president's decision or create a false equivalency between what Manning did and Russian espionage:
Why did Obama commute "Chelsea" Manning's sentence.
Because it would piss people off.
He is an agitator, he gets off on this kind of crap!
— Mark Romano (@TheMarkRomano) January 18, 2017
The Chelsea Manning commutation is just another example of LGBT privilege
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) January 18, 2017