In one of his final acts, Obama has commuted the sentence of Wikileaks source Chelsea Manning. Manning will be freed on 17th May this year instead of her scheduled 2045 release date.
Many notable Republican figures such as John McCain and Paul Ryan have spoken out against the decision, arguing that it encourages acts of espionage.
Manning was charged with 22 counts relating to the unauthorised possession and distribution of secret diplomatic and military information. This included footage that seriously compromised the reputation of the US government; including video footage of an Apache helicopter killing 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007 and evidence of Guantanamo detainees being held without trial and military records from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This prompts us to think about the just use of modern warfare techniques. To what extent is this information readily available to the public? Should it be made publicly available?
Law applicants may want to consider how this series of events affect the reputation of the law, and the complications entwined with freedom of information. HSPS and PPE applicants may want to consider how this affects the state of democratic values and the reputation of the US government as a symbol of the ‘free world’.