OCEAN COUNTY’S Freeholders today issued a scathing retort to President Obama’s announcement that he was commuting former Army Private and convicted spy Chelsea Manning’s sentence for espionage.
“This is what our president calls his legacy?” said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “He knowingly and willingly released an individual who broke their oath to defend this nation and released top secret information, possibly and quite probably putting other United States soldiers in danger.”
The Freeholders joined a nationwide chorus of public officials from both parties who expressed outrage at the President’s decision.
“Today we stand arm-in-arm from leaders across the land, including New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez and House Speaker Paul Ryan, in strongly condemning this action,” Vicari said. “This is not a question of politics or political parties. This is a question of national security that sends the wrong message to our enemies.”
Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little said Obama’s decision is a slap in the face to the nation’s veterans.
“Ocean County is home to more veterans than any other county in New Jersey,” Little said. “These are men and women who risked all in defense of their nation. Manning’s actions may have placed our troops around the world in harm’s way.”
Manning released more than 700,000 confidential files and videos, one of the largest security breaches in U.S. history.
Manning was charged with 22 counts of espionage and sentenced to 35 years in prison by a military court.
Thanks to Obama’s action, Manning will be released in May, having served 6 years behind bars.
Vicari also expressed concern that the reduction in her sentence will send the wrong message to others who might be in the position to leak sensitive government security data.
“Are we saying that your oath means nothing? That a top-secret label means nothing,” Vicari said “What’s to stop the next Chelsea Manning from dumping classified information onto the Internet for our enemies to see?”