Obama’s actions also raise questions about the future of Edward Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency whose unauthorized revelations in 2013 showed vast surveillance by the U.S. intelligence apparatus, some of it on trusted leaders of allied nations. Snowden’s leaks also underscored how the NSA swept up telephone records within the United States in apparent violation of U.S. law. Snowden is in asylum in Moscow.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest noted recently the “stark differences” between Manning and Snowden, whose supporters who have been pushing for clemency.
“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,” Earnest said. “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.”
“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 I know that there’s a temptation because the crimes were relatively similar to lump the two cases together. But there are some important differences, including the scale of the crimes that were committed and the consequences of their crimes.”
Earnest said the “disclosures by Edward Snowden were far more serious and far more dangerous” than those of Manning.
Supporters hailed the commutation as an act of humanity.