Frank Gaffney, Center for Security Policy president, talked about President Barack Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence on Wednesday’s Breitbart News Daily.
“I feel like I’ve seen this movie before,” Gaffney quipped to SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam. “In fact, it calls to mind all of the other instances, Raheem, in which we’ve had Barack Obama engage in national security fraud. I think that the gravity of the fraud in this instance is, of course, heightened by the signal that is being sent to every other would-be traitor, whether in our military or in our intelligence services, or in our State Department, or any other place, that ‘Hey, you can do it. You can get the celebrity – the notoriety, to be sure, but the celebrity – you can get, I don’t know, book contracts, you can get a nice life, because you will not be punished.’ Or maybe you won’t be punished. Maybe you have to change your sex to get that kind of special treatment. I don’t know.”
“But at the very least, Barack Obama has signaled that he is not concerned, as we’ve been led to believe, about people like WikiLeaks doing damage to our nation. I mean, he was concerned about them doing it to Democrats for sure, Democratic operatives for sure, but not to America. That’s what Bradley Manning did, of course, was incredible damage to America,” he said.
On so many different levels, I think this was scandalous,” he declared. “I believe that the American people should be – as they watched this man finally moving out of the White House and into, I guess, an ongoing active opposition mode to Donald Trump … the Obama legacy, really, is one of serial betrayal of America. And that’s the thing that I hope we all take away, as he does ride off into that sunset.”
Gaffney guessed that Obama’s explanation for the Manning commutation would be that “he thinks the penalty that was assigned this gentleman – ah, former gentleman – was extreme, and that in his ongoing effort to change the laws of the United States, or change the judicial system of the United States, change the Constitution of the United States, that he will dispense with what, as I recall, a jury of Bradley Manning’s peers felt was an appropriate punishment, a judge presiding over the case felt was an appropriate punishment, given the magnitude of the damage this man did to our country: 35 years. So the President simply says, ‘Oh, that’s too much. He’s served seven years so far at one stage or another; that’s justice.’”
He stressed that one reason for the harsh sentence imposed on Manning was deterring other would-be leakers from doing similar harm to the country, and Obama’s actions would make that message more difficult to send.
Kassam wondered if Obama was actually trying to encourage leakers, going forward into the Trump administration, by cutting Manning a break. He also found it interesting that the intelligence community, so outraged by the theft of Democratic National Committee emails at Russia’s behest, appeared silent in the face of Manning’s commutation.
“Well, we haven’t heard much of them so far, that I know of,” Gaffney agreed, adding that he hoped they would express outrage about Manning in the coming days.
“Again, the point that I was trying to make, Raheem, is that here you have an organization that was specifically identified by the President of the United States when he was, for the first time in his presidency, acting with such indignation, such outrage, that WikiLeaks – that many believe is tied to the Russian intelligence services – had hacked into the Democratic National Committee, had hacked into John Podesta’s emails. And finally he was moved by his outrage to punish Russia for doing this.”
“Remember, this was two weeks ago, wasn’t it? And now, that same organization which was the vehicle for Bradley Manning’s betrayal is somehow not a problem. Doing damage to America, not to the Democrats, is not a problem,” he observed.
“I would think people across this country will be up in arms about it. It’s one of those things where people get reputations for being conspiracy theorists if you go there, Raheem, so I don’t want to do that, but look: I don’t think there’s any question that Barack Obama, in everything he’s done since the election, clearly everything he’s done since the election, has been calculated to complicate, if not undermine, the presidency of Donald Trump. And I think we’re going to see a lot more of that,” Gaffney warned.
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