President Obama Grants Commutation of Sentence to Chelsea Manning

President Obama Grants Commutation of Sentence to Chelsea Manning

WASHINGTON, DC — The Obama administration announced today the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence for disclosing classified information that raised public awareness regarding the impact of war on innocent civilians. Manning will reportedly be freed in May 2017.

“I’m relieved and thankful that the president is doing the right thing and commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence,” said Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project representing Manning. “Since she was first taken into custody, Chelsea has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement — including for attempting suicide — and has been denied access to medically necessary health care. This move could quite literally save Chelsea’s life, and we are all better off knowing that Chelsea Manning will walk out of prison a free woman, dedicated to making the world a better place and fighting for justice for so many.”

Manning, a transgender woman, is in the seventh year of an unprecedented 35-year sentence and has been forced to serve her sentence in an all-male prison. The ACLU previously filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the appeal of Manning’s conviction, arguing that the prosecution of Manning under the Espionage Act violated the Constitution because it leads to prosecutions where a court gives no consideration to the public interest. The ACLU also argued that such cases give the government too much leeway to selectively prosecute disfavored speakers.

Nancy Hollander and Vince Ward, Manning’s appellate counselors, said in a joint statement, “Ms. Manning is the longest serving whistleblower in the history of the United States. Her 35-year sentence for disclosing information that served the public interest and never caused harm to the United States was always excessive, and we’re delighted that justice is being served in the form of this commutation.”

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, who has been an ardent supporter of Chelsea’s and speaks to her on the phone on a regular basis said, “Chelsea’s release is massive victory for free speech, human rights, and democracy. As someone who has become friends with Chelsea over the last year, but has never had a chance to see her face or give her a hug, I’m overjoyed that she will be able to share her beautiful self with the world. She has so much to offer, and her freedom will be a testament to the power of grassroots organizing. I’m so excited for the world to get to know her as the compassionate, intelligent, and kind person who she is.”

The president’s decision comes after an outpouring of support for Manning since her unfair and egregious sentence and the ongoing mistreatment throughout her incarceration. In December, the ACLU and over a dozen other LGBT groups sent a letter to President Obama urging him to grant clemency to Manning, and an official White House petition with the same request secured over 100,000 signatures.

The ACLU has represented Manning in a lawsuit against the Department of Defense that was first filed in 2014 over the department’s refusal to treat Manning’s well-documented gender dysphoria.

Thousands Online Want to Give Chelsea Manning a Hug

Thousands Online Want to Give Chelsea Manning a Hug

Following reports that Chelsea Manning is on President Obama’s “short list” for a possible commutation, the Internet has exploded with support for the imprisoned transgender transparency advocate. Over the weekend, thousands of people started taking part in a spontaneous #HugsForChelsea campaign, posting photos of themselves with their arms outstretched as if waiting to give Chelsea Manning a hug, calling for President Obama to grant her clemency. Some prominent individuals including Michael Stipe of REM, Dustin Kensrue of Thrice, and the punk band Anti-Flag, have joined the effort.

See a selection of #HugsForChelsea photos here, see the landing page for the campaign here.

“Chelsea has so much love and support coming from people across the political spectrum,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, who posted the first #HugsForChelsea photo, “She has suffered enough. People are coming out of the woodwork to speak out. President Obama needs to do the right thing and free her now. After getting to know her as one of her supporters over the last year, I personally can’t wait to give her a hug.”

“As President Obama’s days in office wind down, people from all walks of life are standing in solidarity with Chelsea and urging the President to save her before it is too late,” said Chase Strangio, Chelsea’s ACLU attorney. “After years of suffering in prison under horrific conditions including long stretches of solitary confinement, the denial of health care for gender dysphoria and arbitrary punishments including for attempting suicide, Chelsea needs to be set free before this treatment results in her death.”

Background:

  1. More than 100,000 people signed an official Whitehouse.gov petition, meeting the threshold to require a response from the President.

  2. Hundreds of thousands have signed previous petitions organized by Fight for the Future and other groups decrying Chelsea’s treatment while in prison

  3. The ACLU and more than a dozen prominent LGBT organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for Chelsea’s commutation

  4. Amnesty International sent a letter to President Obama, and supporters sent over 25,000 emails to the White House.

  5. Human Rights Watch sent a letter to President Obama supporting clemency

  6. Dozens of other human rights, free speech, government transparency, and civil liberties organizations have called for Chelsea’s release

  7. A wide range of notable people have publicly supported Chelsea including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris C. Davis, journalist Glenn Greenwald, Sean Ono Lennon, REM lead singer Michael Stipe, comedian Margaret Cho, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine,, and many others.

  8. Learn more at FreeChelsea.com, and follow Chelsea on Twitter at @xychelsea
Chelsea Manning Reportedly on President Obama’s ‘Short List’ for Commutation

Chelsea Manning Reportedly on President Obama’s ‘Short List’ for Commutation

NBC News is reporting that Chelsea Manning, who has served 7 years of a 35 year sentence, is on President Obama’s “short list” for commutation.

Chelsea Manning’s attorney at the ACLU, Chase Strangio, said:

“The Obama administration has done many commendable things to protect the rights of LGBTQ people, but in the case of Chelsea Manning they have systematically mistreated her and denied her access to medically recommended gender-related health care. Chelsea won’t survive another 5 years in prison, much less another 30. President Obama has 9 days to do the right thing and commute her sentence. The world is watching, and we hope that he stands on the side of justice, and that his legacy will be one of standing up for trans people’s rights, not having extinguished one of our community’s brightest lights.”

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said:

“Chelsea Manning is a compassionate, thoughtful, brilliant human being whose actions have always been motivated by the same thing: her desire to help people and make the world a better place. She has suffered enough. President Obama should act now to right this wrong before it’s too late.”

If the NBC News report is accurate and President Obama moves to commute Manning’s sentence, he will be responding to overwhelming public outcry about Chelsea’s mistreatment while incarcerated.

– More than 100,000 people signed an official Whitehouse.gov petition, meeting the threshold to require a response from the President.

– Hundreds of thousands have signed previous petitions organized by Fight for the Future and other groups decrying Chelsea’s treatment while in prison

– The ACLU and more than a dozen prominent LGBT organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for Chelsea’s commutation

– Amnesty International sent a letter to President Obama, and supporters sent over 25,000 emails to the White House

– Dozens of other human rights, free speech, government transparency, and civil liberties organizations have called for Chelsea’s release

– A wide range of notable people have publicly supported Chelsea including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris C. Davis, journalist Glenn Greenwald, Sean Ono Lennon, REM lead singer Michael Stipe, comedian Margaret Cho, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine,, and many others.

Learn more at FreeChelsea.com & follow Chelsea on Twitter at @xychelsea

CIA, FBI, DHS and ODNI Sued for Records on Russian Interference in 2016 Election

CIA, FBI, DHS and ODNI Sued for Records on Russian Interference in 2016 Election

WASHINGTON, DC — The CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) are in violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Investigative journalist Jason Leopold and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate/Harvard Klein Center for Internet & Society research affiliate, Ryan Shapiro, filed a lawsuit yesterday against the FBI, CIA, DHS, and ODNI. The suit is over the agencies’ failures to comply with Shapiro and Leopold’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for records on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Shapiro and Leopold’s FOIA requests and lawsuit:

Shapiro and Leopold submitted FOIA requests to the CIA, FBI, DHS, and ODNI for records pertaining to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as records pertaining to U.S. intelligence agency operations involving any such Russian interference.

Shapiro and Leopold seek these records in order to shed light on critical unknowns such as:

* What information on Russian interference did U.S. intelligence agencies possess, and when did they possess it?

* How did this information differ by agency?

* How did analysis of this information, and response proposals based upon that analysis, differ by agency?

* How did U.S. intelligence agencies communicate and coordinate with each other regarding the issue of Russian interference?

* Both officially and unofficially, how did U.S. intelligence agencies communicate and coordinate with outside entities and individuals regarding the issue of Russian interference?

1.) Records sought by Shapiro and Leopold include but are not limited to:

FBI Sued for Records on Agency’s Role in Trump Victory

FBI Sued for Records on Agency’s Role in Trump Victory

WASHINGTON, DC — The FBI is in violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Investigative journalist Jason Leopold and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate/Harvard Klein Center for Internet & Society research affiliate, Ryan Shapiro, filed a lawsuit this morning against the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The suit is over the FBI’s failure to comply with Shapiro and Leopold’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records on the FBI’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Jason Leopold is an award-winning Senior Investigative Reporter at Vice News, specializing in counterterrorism and human rights. Leopold has been called a “FOIA Terrorist” by federal employees for his aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act, which includes successfully suing the FBI to force changes to Bureau FOIA practices.

Ryan Shapiro, referred to by Politico as “a FOIA guru at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology”, is an historian of national security, the policing of dissent, and governmental transparency. Shapiro’s pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) at MIT, as well as a Research Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Leopold and Shapiro are represented by Washington, DC-based FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light.

Six key elements of Shapiro and Leopold’s FOIA request & lawsuit:

1.) Leopold and Shapiro submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records on a wide range of records pertaining to FBI operations involving the 2016 U.S. presidential election. This includes but is not limited to all records on:

* The FBI’s investigations of Hillary Clinton’s email & private server

* The FBI’s investigations of the Clinton Foundation

* FBI Director Comey’s communications with Congress regarding the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email & private server

* Allegations of FBI violations of the Hatch Act in the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential election

* Internal discontent at the FBI regarding the FBI’s Clinton investigations

* All leaks of information by the FBI to the press and political operatives about FBI investigations of Hillary Clinton

* All FBI communications with Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, Corey R. Lewandowski, Fox News, Bret Baier, Sean Hannity; & Rudy Giuliani

* Richard Spencer, the National Policy Institute, & the “alt-right”