Tapper Notes How White House Used to Be ‘Angry’ and Outraged’ by Manning Crimes

In the moments after President Obama commuted the sentence of convicted criminal Chelsea Manning on Tuesday, CNN’s Jake Tapper, host of The Lead, vocalized this disconnect between the White House’s actions versus how they felt when Manning first handed over stolen government documents to WikiLeaks.

Speaking to Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev, Tapper observed that “[i]t's interesting also because I remember when WikiLeaks happened I was a White House correspondent like you, Margaret and I remember the White House was so outraged” when WikiLeaks published its first set of documents from Manning in February 2010.

“They were angry. They were so convinced that these reams of documents, thousands and thousands of pages of documents, logs from Iraq, logs from Afghanistan, were going to reveal to our enemies sources and methods, individuals named in these documents,” Tapper added.

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Tapper admitted seconds later that “[i]t’s stunning” the President made this decision and, after reading reaction from Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), the CNN host unloaded [emphasis mine]:

And I will say that the way that Senator Cotton describes Private Manning is how the White House, when I was White House correspondent, described Private Manning as well. They were furious. They were outraged. They could — they thought that those of us in the press who were reading these WikiLeaks, that we were doing something wrong by reading them. That — now, there were incidents, we should point out, there was an incident with the helicopter in Iraq, the first WikiLeak that came from Chelsea Manning, that seemed to suggest that the U.S. military had killed some innocent civilians. I do remember that, but it was I think the widespread, whole scale nature of this leak that was so shocking. 

Earlier, U.S. News & World Report’s David Catanese stated that “[y]ou've got to wonder what Hillary Clinton will think of this, and frankly national security experts, but I think some Democrats may come out and be opposed to this.”

With Tapper having set the tone by pointing out this disconnect between the Obama administration in 2010 versus 2017, it’ll be worth noting if the rest of media follow this cue.

Here are the relevant portions of the transcript from CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper on January 17:

CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper
January 17, 2017
4:40 p.m. Eastern

JAKE TAPPER: It's interesting, Margaret because President Obama has used the Espionage to go after leakers more than every other President in history combined. This has been a hallmark of his administration. It's something that a lot of us in the media have objected to time and time again and here he is commuting the sentence of one of the most notorious leakers. You could argue that Chelsea Manning did it for a good reason, to expose war crimes, or whatever case you want to make, but it certainly contradicts the last eight years of policy in terms of leaking. 

(....)

TAPPER: Dave, I have to say, I mean quite a banner six-month period for WikiLeaks without question having an effect on the election and now their primary source of information — Chelsea Manning — at least originally, sentence — her sentence commuted. I would think that possibly in the politics it all, they would not want to give WikiLeaks the reward. 

DAVID CATANESE: You've got to wonder what Hillary Clinton will think of this, and frankly national security experts, but I think some Democrats may come out and be opposed to this. I mean, we'll have to watch this play out. If you're looking for one rationale that President Obama may use, is that the sentence against Chelsea Manning was the most severe in U.S. history for a leak, 35 years. 

TAPPER: 35 years. 

CATANESE: And she was already there for seven. So, that may be part of the explanation. I think we'll see a lot of comparisons between well, why her and not Edward Snowden. They'll say she served her time, she came forward. Snowden’s, you know, obviously is out hiding, but this will now dominate his final news conference tomorrow. 

(....)

TAPPER: It's interesting also because I remember when WikiLeaks happened I was a White House correspondent like you, Margaret and I remember the White House was so outraged. They were angry. They were so convinced that these reams of documents, thousands and thousands of pages of documents, logs from Iraq, logs from Afghanistan, were going to reveal to our enemies sources and methods, individuals named in these documents. Now, I don't know if there have actually been any victims as a result you could clearly say this was WikiLeaked and therefore this person in Afghanistan or Iraq died. I don't know. 

MARGARET TALEV: But that’s absolutely right. That was the argument, that it greatly compromised U.S. national security and you had to make an example out of this sort of thing. 

TAPPER: It's stunning. Do — what political ramifications do you agree with, Bill, that this will take some of the heat off of President-elect Trump perhaps? 

CATANESE: I mean, I am curious to see how he reacts. I think we know how he's going to react. I'd be surprised — 

BILL KRISTOL: I'm just going to take a wild guess —

TAPPER: You think by a tweet?

KRISTOL: — that we’ll see a tweet in the next couple of hours. 

CATANESE: I think multiple tweets.

(....)

TAPPER: And I will say that the way that Senator Cotton describes Private Manning is how the White House, when I was White House correspondent, described Private Manning as well. They were furious. They were outraged. They could — they thought that those of us in the press who were reading these WikiLeaks, that we were doing something wrong by reading them. That — now, there were incidents, we should point out, there was an incident with the helicopter in Iraq, the first WikiLeak that came from Chelsea Manning, that seemed to suggest that the U.S. military had killed some innocent civilians. I do remember that, but it was I think the widespread, whole scale nature of this leak that was so shocking. 

NBDaily Foreign Policy Military War on Terrorism Surveillance Liberals & Democrats Political Scandals CNN The Lead Video Government & Press President Obama President Barack Obama David Catanese Jake Tapper Bradley Manning Barack Obama
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