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Poll: Do you agree with Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence?

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Former U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning.

The intelligence community is still reeling from the decision of President Barack Obama to reduce the prison sentence of a former Army soldier, whom many considered to be a traitor.

Chelsea Manning was convicted of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to WikiLeaks. It’s reported that Manning aided Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with classified military information.

The decision to commute her prison sentence was made over the objections of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, CNN learned from a senior defense official. Obama Tuesday overruled his secretary of defense and commuted Manning’s sentence anyway. Her prison sentence is now set to expire on May 17.

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, CNN reported.

A former intelligence official described being “shocked” to learn of Obama’s decision, adding that the “entire intelligence community is deflated by this inexplicable use of executive power.” The official said the move was “deeply hypocritical given Obama’s denunciation of WikiLeaks’ role in the hacking of the (Democratic National Committee).”

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, CNN reported.

The material, which WikiLeaks published in 2010, included a classified video of a US helicopter attacking civilians and journalists in Iraq in 2007. Labeled “Collateral Murder,” the film drew criticism from human rights activists for the deaths of innocent people.

Though found guilty on 20 out of 22 possible charges (including violating the US Espionage Act), Manning was not convicted of the most serious one; aiding the enemy, which could have earned the private a life sentence, according to CNN.

Instead, the former intelligence analyst was sentenced to prison, as well as demoted from private first class to private and dishonorably discharged.

Do you agree with Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence?