Obama Pentagon chief: I did not recommend Manning commutation

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WASHINGTON — Ash Carter, President Barack Obama’s defense secretary, did not agree with one of Obama’s final decisions as President: commuting the sentence of convicted leaker Chelsea Manning.

“All I’ll say about the Manning case is I did not support the direction the President went. But he’s made his decision,” Carter told CNN’s Chris Cuomo in an interview that aired Thursday on “New Day.” “That was not my recommendation.”

Obama on Tuesday chose to commute the sentence of the former Army soldier, who was convicted of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to WikiLeaks. The decision immediately touched off a controversy in the closing days of the Obama administration.

A presidential commutation reduces the sentence being served but it does not change the fact of conviction, whereas a pardon forgives a certain criminal offense.

Manning, a transgender woman, was serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, an all-male Army prison in eastern Kansas, despite her request to transfer to a civilian prison. A White House statement on Tuesday said her prison sentence is set to expire on May 17.

Obama defended the decision Wednesday at his final news conference as president.

“The sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received,” Obama said. “It made sense to commute and not pardon her sentence.”

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