Starting in late December, President Obama began taking a number of steps to seemingly ensure that his legacy is upheld after he leaves office. Over the past several days, as his time at the White House nears an end, the outgoing Executive has made some of his most controversial decisions yet.

Pardons and Commutations

Most presidents issue pardons and commutations on their way out the door, but the President’s decision to pardon Chelsea Manning is one that is sure to draw the ire of more than a few commentators. It is a particularly interesting decision, as the White House has recently lambasted Wikileaks as essentially being a front for Russian intelligence agencies, but the President has now decided to commute the sentence of an individual who released thousands of documents to that very same website.

Manning aside, Obama is also set to pardon or commute the sentences of a number of non-violent drug offenders, something not particularly unusual that might actually serve to help some of these people get their lives back on track in the future.


If Chelsea Manning’s commutation didn’t spark outrage among some, then President Obama’s decision to put an end to the decades-long policy aimed at Cuban immigrants, allowing asylum once ashore, just might do the trick. Another unusual step, given that much of the Democratic party’s platform over the recent election was focused on immigration and making it easier for immigrants to get to America and become citizens, the administration says it was a necessary step in normalizing relations with the island dictatorship.

It did not go down easy, however, and many politicians, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, derided the move.


Seemingly attempting to make good on one of his original promises, the administration has begun transferring out some of the last inmates at the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison facility. Just this week, the White House confirmed the transfer of ten inmates to the nation of Oman, and while the President never did manage to close the prison, he did succeed in dramatically reducing the number of inmates held there.

Monument Maker

Finally, the outgoing President has decided to leave behind a number of monuments, many across the American South. Just last week, President Obama designated a number of sites in memory of the Civil Rights Movements, including a monument to the Freedom Riders in Alabama, a site that tells the story of reconstruction in South Carolina, and the approval of landmark status to the hotel and other locations where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

and other civil rights icons planned their strategies and carried out some of their most notable speeches.

On top of this, the President also used his powers to ensure the preservation of a large tract of land and marine area around the Pacific island of Midway, as well as a number of other natural locations across the country. These orders officially mean that he has protected more territory than any other American president, not a bad little addition to the legacy at all.