Tags: Barack Obama | edward snowden | chelsea manning | pardon | clemency

Politico: Obama Clemency Unlikely for Snowden, Manning, Others

Image: Politico: Obama Clemency Unlikely for Snowden, Manning, Others

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden appears on a live video feed broadcast from Moscow at an event sponsored by the ACLU Hawaii in Honolulu on Feb. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Friday, 30 Dec 2016 09:10 AM

Four people who have been involved in national security issues have asked President Barack Obama for clemency, but lawyers say that in the current environment surrounding leaks and hacking, action on their cases is not looking likely, according to Politico

The four include Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, retired Marine Corps Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright, and former CIA officer John Kiriakou. Their requests do not meet requirements for clemency under the Justice Department and do not fall under Obama's plan to reduce sentences of nonviolent drug offenders, Politico reported.

"I think he's going to announce a lot of names in the next few weeks. I don't think any of them will be these big-name figures," University of St. Thomas law professor Mark Osler said. "This administration does have an aversion to high-profile cases generally."

Experts in the Politico story said Manning's sentence would be the most likely to be commuted. She was convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified and unclassified diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks and received a 35-year prison sentence.

Testimony in her case included claims the transgender soldier was having a mental breakdown over gender dysphoria. In September, the Army agreed to provide surgery to allow her to complete transition from male to female. About 116,000 people have signed a petition for Obama to commute her sentence to the six years she has already served.

"She absolutely will not survive her 35-year sentence," ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio told NPR

However, her case is still under appeal, which puts it outside rules for pardons or commutations, Politico's report said.

Snowden, who disclosed the National Security Agency's collection of details on Americans' phone calls, led to Obama ending that practice. Now he is in refuge in Russia while being wanted on federal felony charges.

"I can't pardon somebody who hasn't gone before a court and presented themselves," Obama said in November about Snowden.

A Snowden trial would likely be a public spectacle and lead to more disclosures about government surveillance, Politico reported.

"If Obama was of any mind to do this, he'd want meaningful conditions to be imposed on the commutation before trial that would make it acceptable to the public," according to Chicago-Kent College of Law dean Harold Krent.

Cartwright pleaded guilty to lying to investigators who were probing leaks about top secret U.S. plans against Iran's nuclear program. He is to be sentenced Jan. 17, three days before Obama leaves office.

Kiriakou pleaded guilty in 2012 to revealing secret information about fellow CIA officer. He completed a two-and-a-half year prison sentence in 2015, Politico reported.

Presidents have made high-profile commutations in national security cases before, such as in 2007 when President George W. Bush commuted his vice president Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis Libby. In 2001, President Bill Clinton commuted former Navy intelligence analyst Samuel Morison.

NPR's report noted that requests for pardons have flooded Obama's office. Those include Bowe Bergdahl, accused of desertion in Afghanistan, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was caught in a corruption case, and Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist who has been in jail for 40 years in the killing of two FBI agents.

The adult children of Ethel Rosenberg, who was executed for spying for Russia in 1953, said, "This is our mother we're talking about. Since we can't bring her back to life, there could be nothing more satisfying to us than to have the government acknowledge that this shouldn't have happened, that this was wrong," her son Robert Meeropol said, according to the Chicago Tribune

In the Politico report, press secretary Josh Earnest appeared to tamp down hopes of last-minute pardons by the president.

"He does not expect to essentially ram through any pardons at the last minute. There's an established process and the president believes that's a process worth following," Earnest said.

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Four people who have been involved in national security issues have asked President Barack Obama for clemency, but lawyers say that in the current environment surrounding leaks and hacking, action on their cases is not looking likely, according to Politico.
edward snowden, chelsea manning, pardon, clemency
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2016-10-30
Friday, 30 Dec 2016 09:10 AM
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