From the “We the People” email that was sent out to everyone that signed the petition:
A response to your petition on Chelsea Manning:
Thank you for signing this We the People petition. On January 17, 2017, the President commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. You can watch or read President Obama’s comments on that commutation here.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Well, first of all, let’s be clear, Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence. So the notion that the average person who was thinking about disclosing vital, classified information would think that it goes unpunished, I don’t think would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served.
“It has been my view that given she went to trial, that due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that she received was very disproportional — disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received, and that she had served a significant amount of time, that it made it sense to commute — and not pardon — her sentence.
“And I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent that when it comes to our national security, that wherever possible, we need folks who may have legitimate concerns about the actions of government or their superiors or the agencies in which they work — that they try to work through the established channels and avail themselves of the whistleblower protections that had been put in place.
“I recognize that there’s some folks who think they’re not enough, and I think all of us, when we’re working in big institutions, may find ourselves at times at odds with policies that are set. But when it comes to national security, we’re often dealing with people in the field whose lives may be put at risk, or the safety and security and the ability of our military or our intelligence teams or embassies to function effectively. And that has to be kept in mind.
“So with respect to WikiLeaks, I don’t see a contradiction. First of all, I haven’t commented on WikiLeaks, generally. The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC emails that were leaked.
“I don’t pay a lot of attention to Mr. Assange’s tweets, so that wasn’t a consideration in this instance. And I’d refer you to the Justice Department for any criminal investigations, indictments, extradition issues that may come up with him.
“What I can say broadly is that, in this new cyber age, we’re going to have to make sure that we continually work to find the right balance of accountability and openness and transparency that is the hallmark of our democracy, but also recognize that there are adversaries and bad actors out there who want to use that same openness in ways that hurt us — whether that’s in trying to commit financial crimes, or trying to commit acts of terrorism, or folks who want to interfere with our elections.
“And we’re going to have to continually build the kind of architecture that makes sure the best of our democracy is preserved; that our national security and intelligence agencies have the ability to carry out policy without advertising to our adversaries what it is that we’re doing, but do so in a way that still keeps citizens up to speed on what their government is doing on their behalf.
“But with respect to Chelsea Manning, I looked at the particulars of this case the same way I have for the other commutations and pardons that I’ve done, and I felt that in light of all the circumstances that commuting her sentence was entirely appropriate.”
— The We the People Team