WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – The American Civil Liberties Union is asking President Barack Obama to commute the sentence of Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private convicted of providing classified military information to Wikileaks.
Manning was found guilty of multiple counts of espionage, computer theft, fraud and numerous violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in 2013. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but soon after was back in the news because he wanted the Army to pay for his medical care – hormone therapy to transition from a man to a woman.
He also requested a presidential pardon immediately after his conviction. That pardon was denied.
Manning lives now under the pseudonym "Chelsea" Manning, a transgender inmate, at the U.S. Army's Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The ACLU is asking the Manning's sentence be commuted to time-served (almost seven years now).
In its letter to President Obama, the ACLU and 16 other pro-LGBT organizations, including Lambda Legal and the National Organization for Women, claim they are united in their desire to see Manning released so "she" will have "a first chance to live a real, meaningful life as the person she was born to be."
"Since she was first taken into custody in 2010, Ms. Manning, a transgender woman who is being forced to serve out her sentence in an all-male prison, has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement ... and denied necessary medical treatment related to her gender dysphoria," the letter states.
Gender dysphoria is a psychological disorder in which a person claims to feel he or she is of a different gender than the one assigned at birth. According to the ACLU letter, Manning has attempted suicide because Army officials opposed acknowledging Manning as "Chelsea" and "her."
"While the armed forces have finally opened the door to transgender men and women who wish to serve, the government has continually fought Ms. Manning's efforts to be treated with basic dignity," the letter said.
It also included a quote from a letter Manning had written to the president, expressing how he was "living through a cycle of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, loss, and depression. I cannot focus. I cannot sleep. I attempted to take my own life."
He then said he was hopeless in prison.
The ACLU does not regard Manning as a traitor, but as a "whistleblower."
In addition to the ACLU, NOW and Lambda Legal, other signatories to the letter include the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Transgender Law Center.
It is unclear as of now if the White House is favorably disposed to honoring the request for commutation. The ACLU is striking while the iron is hot, however.
On Nov. 22, the White House announced President Obama had commuted as many as 1,023 prison sentences for men and woman "incarcerated under outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws, including 342 individuals who were serving life sentences."
To date, the announcement said, the president has granted more commutations than the past 11 presidents combined. He had also, by Nov. 22, granted 70 pardons. He plans to continuing doing so until his final day in office, the White House said.