Obama interrupted by Manning protester

President Obama was briefly interrupted by a protester calling for the release of the army private sentenced earlier this week to 35 years in prison for releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks.

The president was speaking at a high school in Syracuse, N.Y., and briefly paused in his remarks to acknowledge the woman, who was then escorted from the auditorium. Many in the crowd began to boo her, but Obama waved them off.

"As hecklers go, that young lady was very polite," Obama said. "She brought up an issue of importance, and that's what America is all about."

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was sentenced Wednesday for leaking more than 700,000 pages of classified information to WikiLeaks. On Thursday, Manning said in a statement to the "Today Show" that he was transgendered, identified as a woman, and preferred to be known as Chelsea Manning.

On Wednesday, the White House said it would consider a clemency petition for Bradley Manning "like any other application" after his attorney announced his intention to seek a pardon.

"There's a process for pardon applications or clemency applications, I believe they're called," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "And I'm not going to get ahead of that process. If there is an application that's filed by Mr. Manning or his attorneys, that application will be considered in that process like any other application."

Earlier Wednesday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said Manning received a "light sentence" for having "put the lives of our troops and allies in danger."

"Given the vast damage he did to our national security and the need to send a strong signal to others who may be tempted to disclose classified information, this is a dangerous conclusion,” McKeon said in a statement.