Obama Pardons: White House Sees ‘Pretty Stark Difference Between Chelsea Manning And Edward Snowden’

Will President Barack Obama use his remaining time in office to pardon either of two American whistleblowers? From remarks to the White House press gathered on Friday, he seems to be considering it.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that in considering individual presidential clemency applications there is a “pretty stark difference between Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.”

According to the White House official transcript, however, there is much to consider for the DOJ and Obama in these final days before a Donald Trump Administration begins.

“Well, what I can tell you is that the Department of Justice and the President will consider individual clemency applications on their merits. And there are obviously a wide range of factors that the President and the Department of Justice will consider.”

But further, Earnest did make clear in his verbal illustration to gathered White House press that the factors were important to the President and the Department of Justice when granting pardons before January 20.

“And I think to illustrate one of them would be to illustrate the pretty stark difference between Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.”

There has been an ongoing effort to obtain a presidential pardon from President Barack Obama for Edward Snowden as seen in the following tweet.

And yet, Snowden himself used his Twitter account to seek clemency for Chelsea Manning.

Obama’s presidential clemency opportunities were further discussed by Earnest with the gathered media who are looking at the final week of covering the Obama Administration. What was made very clear by Obama’s press secretary Earnest is that these two individuals, Manning and Snowden, have very different situations.

National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md. [Image by Charles Dharapak, File/AP Images]

Of course, the Obama pardons are a hot topic with time left in office ticking away. Earnest clarified factors being considered in further remarks for media.

“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing. Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”

His remarks went on from there, however.

“So I think the situation of these two individuals is quite different. I can’t speculate at this point about to what degree that will have an impact on the President’s consideration of clemency requests…. But there are some important differences, including the scale of the crimes that were committed and the consequences of their crimes.”

Obama’s pardon for Chelsea Manning may be the preferred one, based upon those statements from the press secretary.

Another effort, on behalf of Manning, is being made by two former U.S. House Members who have both run for president in their respective parties’ primaries: Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. Both men are requesting that President Obama “grant the application for clemency submitted by Chelsea Manning and commute her sentence to time served.”

Former congressmen Paul and Kucinich noted in their letter to President Obama that Manning “… has already spent more time in prison than anyone previously convicted for providing information to the media.”

The joint Paul/Kucinich plea on behalf of Manning can be seen at the RonPaul Institute website. They cite the point that Manning was “acting in the public interest” to Obama. They write that in providing government information to WikiLeaks, Manning’s actions allowed “… previously unseen footage of journalists and other civilians being killed by U.S. helicopter attacks in a video known as ‘Collateral Murder.'”

“We each had the honor of serving the American people in the United States Congress for 16 years. We respect the government’s right to hold to account members of the military who breach military law, but believe that there are strong grounds for commuting Ms. Manning’s sentence. We strongly urge you to grant Ms. Manning’s application for clemency in recognition of her acting in the public interest and the treatment that she endured in early pre-trial detention.”

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden speaks via video conference. [Image by Juliet Linderman/AP Images]

The Obama pardons are coming, it seems from the remarks of press secretary Josh Earnest, but the DOJ will also weigh in, providing “a recommendation for the President” before he makes his final decision.

[Featured Image by Paul Beaty/AP Images]

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