Trump Calls Manning an 'Ungrateful Traitor'

Chelsea Manning
Chelsea Manning

President Donald Trump on Thursday called Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who leaked classified intelligence to the website WikiLeaks, an "ungrateful traitor" after she criticized in an op-ed former President Barack Obama and warned of "dark times" to come.

"Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader," the president tweeted early Thursday morning. "Terrible!"

In an op-ed published on the website of the British newspaper The Guardian, Manning criticized former President Barack Obama for not being progressive enough.

"Barack Obama left behind hints of a progressive legacy," Manning wrote. "Unfortunately, despite his faith in our system and his positive track record on many issues over the last eight years, there have been very few permanent accomplishments."

Obama last week commuted the sentence of Manning, 29, who remains imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas as part of a 35-year sentence she received in August 2013 after pleading guilty to multiple charges under the Espionage Act. She is now set to be freed May 17.

Manning's attorney, David Coombs, didn't immediately return a call requesting a response to the president's comments.

Manning, from Oklahoma City and previously known as Bradley, has sought to undergo gender reassignment surgery in prison. She attempted suicide twice last year -- once in July and again in October while in solitary confinement -- and also underwent a hunger strike.

She became a lightning rod for controversy after her 2010 arrest while serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. She faced 20 charges for illegally passing several hundred thousand documents, including military and diplomatic cables, to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks.

In her opinion piece, Manning didn't mention Trump by name but said minorities will be "targeted" during his time in office.

"Now, after eight years of attempted compromise and relentless disrespect in return, we are moving into darker times," she wrote. "Healthcare will change for the worse, especially for those of us in need. Criminalization will expand, with bigger prisons filled with penalized bodies -- poor, black, brown, queer and trans people. People will probably be targeted because of their religion. Queer and trans people expect to have their rights infringed upon."

Manning also recalled that while serving with a unit preparing for a possible deployment to provide additional security the 2009 inauguration, many colleagues -- both officers and enlisted personnel -- "openly despised President Obama," with "seething vitriol and hatred."

-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

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