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The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Here are the irritants we will cover this morning: Chelsea Manning and National Airport noise reports.

In late August, 2013, a military judge sentenced PFC Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for, according to the WaPo report at the time:

"Violations of the Espionage Act, for copying and disseminating classified military field reports, State Department cables, and assessments of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

The Post characterized Manning's crime as having "leaked the largest cache of classified documents in U.S. history."

Bradley Manning became Chelsea Manning and in September, 2016 her lawyer announced the Army had determined she could receive, according to CNN, "gender transition surgery," even though she was still a prisoner.

This decision came as the result of an Obama-era policy change that said: "Service members with a diagnosis from a military medical provider indicating that gender transition is medically necessary will be provided medical care and treatment for the diagnosed medical condition."

Three days before the end of his Presidency, Barack Obama commuted Manning's sentence to time served - about seven years in all - and ordered her release. She was not, as her lawyers had been urging, pardoned.

When asked why Obama had commuted Manning's sentence, but refused to pardon Edward Snowden, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was quoted in the NY Times as saying:

"Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing."

"Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy."

Not so sure about that "acknowledged wrongdoing" part, but as Donald Trump demonstrated recently in the pardon of Joe Arpaio, Presidents don't have to have a good explanation - or any explanation - for exercising that power.

… at its Institute of Politics of the Harvard Kennedy School. That invitation was withdrawn last week.

According to a USA Today piece, the dean of the institute, Douglas W. Elmendof said that "the decision to ask Manning to be a visiting fellow was a 'mistake.' Thus, the dean did something not done by Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Barack Obama, nor Donald Trump.

He admitted to having made a mistake.

I don't know what special insights Manning might have brought to students at the Kennedy School, other than a knowledge of how to copy classified documents to a thumb drive and a CD-ROM disc. But, before the incident fades from view, it would be interesting to know who at Harvard thought this was a good idea in the first place.

New Topic:

I live right under the flight path of planes arriving at, and leaving from, National Airport.

The Washington Post had a piece yesterday morning headed: "New report says noise complaints are up at National, Dulles airports."

As it happens, the Mullings Director of Standards & Practices and I were walking to dinner in Old Town Alexandria last night when an airliner flew directly over us - instead of following the Potomac River as is normal - banked, left and disappeared over the buildings before landing at DCA.

This was so unusual that everyone on the street looked up and followed the plane along its path.

The article, written by Lori Aratani, claims that "airport officials logged 42,683 complaints about flights at National and Dulles in 2016, compared with just under 10,000 in 2015.

Of those, complaints about planes at National accounted for 36,653 of them. But, you have to read to the sixth paragraph to learn that:

"One resident of Northwest Washington's affluent Foxhall neighborhood filed 17,273 complaints about noise at National - an average of 47 a day."

DCA - now named Reagan National Airport - opened on June 16, 1941, so it has been there longer than just about anyone living in its flight path today.

Aratani's reporting appears to be solid with on-the-record quotes from Members of the House and the Senate who represent the region, as well as the Governor of both Maryland. A spokesperson for Virginia's Governor Terry McAuliffe "did not return requests for coamment."

The point about the WaPo piece is: It would be a lot more interesting to most of us to know who it is that has the time and the inclination to file 47 noise complaints per day - weekends and holidays included.

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