FNC Panel Eviscerates Obama's 'Bizarre,' 'Disgraceful,' 'Radical' Decision on Chelsea Manning

On Tuesday night, the panel on FNC’s Special Report tore into President Obama’s “bizarre” decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence as “an absolute disgrace” that “does tremendous damage going forward because it incentivizes leaks.”

This was in contrast to CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, who reported that “[t]he Obama presidency is ending on a note of forgiveness.”

Back on the Fox News Channel, Weekly Standard editor-in-chief Steve Hayes admitted “it's a disgrace and it's not a surprise from this President” even though “[t]he damage that these leaks did is not theoretical” but rather “real” and “demonstrable.”

<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>

Hayes went on to read from an Associated Press account of the damage caused by the WikiLeaks documents Manning provided:

This is the way the AP wrote it up at the time: “Al-Qaeda leaders reveled in WikiLeaks publications of reams of classified U.S. documents, urging members to study them before devising ways to attack the United States. The U.S. government presented an uncontested written statement that former al-Qaeda Osama bin Laden asked for and received from an associate the Afghan battlefield reports that WikiLeaks published.” 

“This is real effects. I think what the President of the United States did today is a total — an absolute disgrace. It does tremendous damage going forward because it incentivizes leaks like this,” Hayes concluded. 

Real Clear Politics editor A.B. Stoddard agreed, opining that “the politics of this are so bizarre” in watching Democrats “try to walk away” from this Manning story. 

She also stated what’s intriguing was that Obama could end up “unit[ing] Donald Trump and the intel community and Republicans and Democrats together against this because no one has anything good to say.”

Host Bret Baier finally came to conservative pundit and firebrand Laura Ingraham, who didn’t mince words:

This is radical. This is a radical move by a President who, tens of millions of Americans at the very least, thinks, at various points in his administration, did not have the best in interests of America. And this is coming on the heels of all of this caterwauling about leaking and about hacking and about sensitive information in the public domain and about Russia and all of our enemies using this information against us. 

“[T]his was punishable by death, and now, he's going to walk in May. So, are we really concerned about the release of sensitive information that compromises our troops and our national security or not? And, I mean, I think heads are spinning for good reason,” continued Ingraham. 

Baier returned to Stoddard to point out the hypocrisy of liberals concerning WikiLeaks. On this subject, the Real Clear Politics editor ruled that Manning’s commutation was “a celebration of WikiLeaks, to be sure.” 

Connecting this to the Democratic boycott of the Trump inauguration, Stoddard argued: 

What's really bizarre, Bret, about this by caught — boycott is that they aren't using the hacking as a reason. They are saying [Trump’s] been unpresidential and that’s really a huge mistake on their part. It’s just a consequence — consequential decision that is so misguided. It's all about sort of Trump derangement and not really about celebrating democracy in the peaceful transfer of power and to hear them say, it’s just well, I don’t like the way he tweeted to Meryl Streep is just outrageous.

Here’s the relevant portions of the transcript from FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier on January 17:

FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier
January 17, 2017
6:39 p.m. Eastern

STEVE HAYES: Well, it's a disgrace and it's not a surprise from this President. The damage that these leaks did is not theoretical. It's real. It's clear, and it's demonstrable and in the case the U.S. government made against Chelsea Manning, as Tom Joscelyn, one of my colleagues wrote about back at the time, found this aided al-Qaeda in its efforts to attack the United States and U.S. interests and U.S. military. This is the way the AP wrote it up at the time: “Al-Qaeda leaders reveled in WikiLeaks publications of reams of classified U.S. documents, urging members to study them before devising ways to attack the United States. The U.S. government presented an uncontested written statement that former al-Qaeda Osama bin Laden asked for and received from an associate the Afghan battlefield reports that WikiLeaks published.” This is real effects. I think what the President of the United States did today is a total — an absolute disgrace. It does tremendous damage going forward because it incentivizes leaks like this. 

BRET BAIER: AB, what about the politics of this? You know, WikiLeaks, obviously, is in the news. Just after this election, Julian Assange says, this is a great thing. In fact, he tweeted last week that if you want to see whistleblowers and in a new Trump administration, that you need to commute the sentence or release Chelsea Manning. 

A.B. STODDARD: This is — the politics of this are so bizarre. To watch Senator Menendez and a Democratic congressman on your show earlier tonight try to walk away from this, it's amazing. You almost wonder if it will be interesting to see what President Obama says tomorrow, but you almost wonder if he's trying to unite Donald Trump and the intel community and Republicans and Democrats together against this because no one has anything good to say. It's completely bizarre. There is may be an explanation about the length of the sentence and the fact that she’s served seven years but beyond that, this is corrosive, as Steve says, to future intelligence and it's the opposite of a deterrence to leakers. 

BAIER: Laura?

LAURA INGRAHAM: This is radical. This is a radical move by a President who, tens of millions of Americans at the very least, thinks, at various points in his administration, did not have the best in interests of America. And this is coming on the heels of all of this caterwauling about leaking and about hacking and about sensitive information in the public domain and about Russia and all of our enemies using this information against us. And on the heels of all that, President Obama comes out in the waning days of his administration and gives a commutation to this individual who, remember, the prosecutors wanted to nail him on treason and aiding and abetting the enemy. They got — he pled down in the case, so it was a shorter sentence. They could have gone for a capital case against him. The prosecutors decided not to, but this was punishable by death, and now, he's going to walk in May. So, are we really concerned about the release of sensitive information that compromises our troops and our national security or not? And I mean I think heads are spinning for good reason. 

(....)

BAIER: Well, how about the additional layer of politics here. You have now 50-plus Democrats saying they are not showing up for the inauguration because Russia hacking before the election affected people's votes. John Lewis says that that makes him an illegitimate president, thereby he's not going to the inauguration and these congressmen are standing with him. 

STODDARD: And there’s just no way that tomorrow those people who were boycotting can say that they agree with President Obama's decision on this commutation. I mean, it’s —

BAIER: Well, Steve Cohen clearly didn't. 

STODDARD: Right. It’s — well — it's a celebration of WikiLeaks, to be sure. What's really bizarre, Bret, about this by caught — boycott is that they aren't using the hacking as a reason. They are saying he's been unpresidential and that’s really a huge mistake on their part. It’s just a consequence — consequential decision that is so misguided. It's all about sort of Trump derangement and not really about celebrating democracy in the peaceful transfer of power and to hear them say, it’s just well, I don’t like the way he tweeted to Meryl Streep is just outrageous.

NBDaily Foreign Policy Military War on Terrorism Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Political Scandals Fox News Channel Special Report Video President Obama President Barack Obama Stephen Hayes Steve Hayes Bret Baier A.B. Stoddard Laura Ingraham Barack Obama Bradley Manning
Curtis Houck's picture


Sponsored Links