Army intelligence analyst turned military convict Pvt. Chelsea Manning criticized former President Barack Obama as a disappointing leader in a column just days after her announced release from prison, prompting taunts from current President Trump.
Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of military documents, had her sentence reduced to about seven years by Obama in one of his final acts in the Oval Office. She is set to leave Fort Leavenworth in Kansas this May.
In a column for the Guardian Thursday night, Manning did not acknowledge the commutation but did lament that Obama's promises of hope and change for country never fully materialized.
"Barack Obama left behind hints of a progressive legacy," she 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.
"This vulnerable legacy should remind us that what we really need is a strong and unapologetic progressive to lead us. What we need as well is a relentless grassroots movement to hold that leadership accountable."
She also wrote that Trump’s presidency signals that the country is "moving into darker times" and that the most important lesson of Obama’s presidency is "do not start off with a compromise" because conservatives have proven unwilling to work with progressives.
The column prompted an angry early Friday morning tweet from Trump’s personal account, calling Manning an "ungrateful traitor."
Obama did not issue an immediate public comment on the column.
Manning’s release has proven divisive in both the military community and the American public, with accusations that Obama’s move was prompted more by Manning’s status as a transgender woman than sound criminal accountability.
Manning was known as Bradley Manning at the time of her 2010 arrest and has petitioned military officials for accommodations since her imprisonment. The Army has been providing her hormone treatments and allowed her to wear women’s clothing, and was taking steps toward providing gender reassignment surgery to her before the commutation.
She has also attempted suicide at least twice in prison, moves that in at least one occasion resulted in solitary confinement and extra disciplinary measures.
But supporters have argued that the information released by Manning did not endanger American lives, and prompted an important national conversation about U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Trump has publicly bashed Manning as a traitor in the past, but cannot revoke Obama’s commutation. Follow @LeoShane
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.