Looking back at the week in news

Commuting the sentence of Chelsea Manning was wrong

Classified documents released by then-Army Pvt. Bradley Manning were found in Osama bin Laden’s hideout after a U.S. Navy SEAL team killed him. That alone is evidence of how badly Manning’s betrayal hurt our country.

While working as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq during 2010, Manning leaked more than 700,000 military and diplomatic documents to the anti-U.S. WikiLeaks website. The information was posted online promptly for America’s enemies to use against us.

In July 2013, Manning was convicted of 20 charges, including violations of the Espionage Act. The traitor was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

But Manning demanded the Army provide hormone therapy while he was in prison, because of gender identity problems. The military provided it. Manning now is referred to not as Bradley but as Chelsea Manning.

This week, President Barack Obama, who has commuted the sentences of more criminals than any other chief executive, decided Manning deserved a break. Obama has ordered Manning be released from prison by May 17. It is unlikely the president’s order can be reversed.

Obama’s action was more than the "mistake" then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence called it on Wednesday. It was aiding and abetting our nation’s enemies.

No one knows how many people died because of Manning’s treasonable action. Almost beyond a shadow of doubt, many who had been helping U.S. officials in Afghanistan were discovered and killed by the Taliban, with Manning’s help.

What Obama did was, in a word, wrong.

Rescuing people from the horrors of addiction

Crime and punishment. That is society’s knee-jerk reaction to criminal activities. But in some cases, there’s a better alternative.

Such is the case at Hillsborough County South Adult Drug Court. The court offers an opportunity for treatment to substance abusers who are nonviolent offenders considered to be at high risk of continued criminal behavior. Instead of incarceration, abusers receive treatment through judicially supervised programs.

Many in the medical community consider drug and alcohol addiction to be a disease. Whether that’s the case in the true definition of "disease" is a topic for another time. But the reality is that the definition doesn’t matter as much as the health of those afflicted. What good does it do someone with a drug or alcohol addiction to sit in a jail cell for a year or five years or whatever amount of time counting down the days when he or she can get out and get high again?

But it does a world of good when nonviolent offenders can go through treatment programs that help them turn their lives around and become contributing members of society.

That’s why the Adult Drug Court is well worth the time, effort and expense it is to run. The Hillsborough County South program honored three more graduates this week. What is the result? Three more people who have been rescued from the black hole of addiction and who can go on to live productive – and healthy – lives.