In 2011, President Barack Obama declared that Army PFC Bradley Manning, who now goes by the name Chelsea, “broke the law” by releasing hundreds of thousands of sensitive or classified U.S. government documents to WikiLeaks.
Obama commuted Manning’s sentence Tuesday as one of his last acts as president. Manning was convicted of violations of the Espionage Act, but will now be released in May 2017 instead of 2045.
“We are a nation of laws,” Obama said after being confronted by a pro-Manning protester at a California event. “We don’t individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate.”
“He broke the law,” Obama continued.
The unidentified questioner then asked an inaudible question about President Richard Nixon and the release of the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg, a military contractor who leaked top secret documents regarding military planning in Vietnam.
Obama replied, “It wasn’t the same thing. What Ellsberg released wasn’t classified in the same way.”
The conversation then ended as Obama moved on.