I apologize for complaining every year when the U.S. president, no matter who it is, pardons two turkeys just before Thanksgiving. I don’t think it’s funny or cute or festive. I think it’s an insult to every person in America who actually deserves a pardon. It’s bad enough for people like me, (or Jeffrey Sterling, Thomas Drake, or any other national security whistleblower) who have done their time, have applied for pardons from multiple presidents, and have been ignored. Imagine what it must be like for people who are innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. What must go through Leonard Pelletier’s mind every year at the end of November, for example? The Thanksgiving tradition began in 1863, when Abraham Lincoln pardoned a turkey, an act that wasn’t even reported in the press until 1865.
Although several long shot campaigns were mounted, President Donald Trump did not pardon any whistleblowers who were indicted or prosecuted under the United States Espionage Act. He also declined to pardon the only journalist ever to be indicted under the World War I-era law. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden were not offered clemency because Trump "did not want to anger Senate Republicans who will soon determine whether he's convicted during his Senate trial." "Multiple GOP lawmakers had sent messages through aides that they felt strongly about not granting clemency to Assange or Snowden," according to CNN.
Memorial Day has come and gone and President Trump did not issue his pardons after all. There was substantial evidence that he was planning to use the yearly moment honoring the country’s war dead to grant executive clemency to several U.S. soldiers and at least one military contractor. All have been accused, and one already convicted, of crimes in the never-ending war on terror. But apparently, Trump received enough resistance from serving and retired senior military officers and former soldiers, including presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, to change his mind -- for now.
Mr. Zeese, co-director of the social justice group Popular Resistance, and about 15 fellow demonstrators braved the blazing sun and sticky humidity outside the White House on Tuesday morning, brandished signs that read “Free Julian Assange” and demanded Mr. Trump take action to halt the de facto detention and criminal prosecution against the controversial WikiLeaks founder. “Telling the truth, reporting the news is not a crime, and WikiLeaks has done more to report on some really important stories than any other media outlet,” Mr. Zeese told the small gathering through a megaphone. Mr. Zeese, an advocate for whistle-blowers throughout his career, argued that Mr. Assange’s actions do not warrant criminal prosecution. “He’s basically and editor in chief of a news publication, and all he has done is publish documents that let people know what is going on.
By Chase Strangio for Medium. Our greatest wish for Chelsea Manning on her birthday and every day is that she is pardoned and released from prison. Join us in wishing her a happy birthday by urging President Obama to pardon her. Chelsea has shown herself to be an amazing person who sees injustice and works to change it. In her time since her arrest she has evolved and grown. Now she has become a leading voice for the trans movement. There is so much progress in that area and some of the credit for ameliorating discrimination against trans people goes to Chelsea who has stood up for her rights, and by doing so, the rights of others, under very difficult circumstances. We are confident that Chelsea will continue to evolve and grow; and continue to show leadership in her coming years. Happy birthday to Chelsea.
By Jerry White for WSWS - In an interview published Friday, President Barack Obama told Der Spiegeland German public broadcaster ARD that he would not pardon Edward Snowden before leaving office in January. The former National Security Agency contractor remains in exile for exposing the illegal surveillance operations of the NSA and other U.S. spying agencies, which target countless millions of people in the U.S. and around the world.
By Peter Maass for The Intercept - But this story is not about the excellent reasons for thanking rather than locking up the two most famous whistleblowers of the post-9/11 era. Plenty of people are already calling for that in powerful ways. A new petition on Snowden’s behalf has been signed by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey as well as Steve Wozniak, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Aragorn (also known as Viggo Mortensen).
By Meagan Day for Timeline. Throughout his tenure, President Obama’s hesitation to use his executive pardon power has left critics scratching their heads. He granted zero clemencies during the first two years of his first term — except for Thanksgiving turkeys, of course — and the numbers have been in the low double digits every year since. But recently Obama picked up the pace, commuting the sentences of 214 federal inmates. All of them were non-violent drug offenders, sending a clear message to the legislative branch. But Obama has released for fewer prisoners than many presidents, including Richard Nixon. Even if Obama grants a slew of commutations here at the end of his presidency, it will hardly make a dent in the number of inmates that have been stuffed into federal prison since the beginning of the tough-on-crime era.