Barack Hussein Obama only has a few days left before he will have to leave office and relinquish power to Donald Trump. However, disturbing new reports are coming in that Obama is planning to go out with a bang by issuing a series of pardons that could put us all in danger.
This is low, even for Obama…
As Obama prepares to leave office in two weeks he has the chance to pardon controversial figures, including Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl.
Thousands of names have been submitted to the 44th president for clemency before he hands over the White House to Donald Trump on January 20.
Obama is fielding pressure from all sides to grant unlikely pardons or commutations of sentences to people whose supporters say have been unjustly sentenced or sought out by the justice system.
While some seeking a pardon are minor drug traffickers, others are much more high-profile and whose pardons would draw international attention..
Among them is Bowe Bergdahl, a US Army sergeant held captive for five years by the Taliban before his release in a prisoner swap, who is due to be court-martialed for desertion.
Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist convicted for the 1975 deaths of two FBI agents in what his supporters say was a setup, is also hoping to enjoy Obama’s good graces.
Then there’s Edward Snowden, who made the shattering revelation in 2013 of a global communications and internet surveillance system set up by the United States.
The 33-year-old, a refugee in Russia, is backed by numerous celebrities like actress Susan Sarandon and singer Peter Gabriel, as well as Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union.
If Obama fails to pardon Snowden, his supporters say he may face the death penalty under the incoming administration of Republican Donald Trump, who has called him a “terrible traitor.”
In another leak case, Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year sentence in solitary confinement for handing 700,000 sensitive military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, some of them classified.
Activists say her sentence is excessive and point to the psychological frailty of the transgender soldier who has already made two suicide attempts.
Even though the White House has dismissed a possible pardon for Snowden and Manning, their supporters are still hoping for a final magnanimous gesture from a president about to leave the constraints of his high office on January 20.
But both cases present unique challenges: Snowden has yet to be sentenced and merely faces espionage charges in the US, while Manning has an appeal pending before military court.
The US Constitution allows a president to pardon “offenses against the United States” and commute — either shorten or end — federal sentences.
Some US presidents have used this regal power of leniency in a pointed way near the end of their term in office.
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