The Obama Victims: Chelsea Manning
Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning, December 17, 1987) is a United States Army soldier who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly three-quarters of a million classified or unclassified but sensitive military and diplomatic documents. Manning was sentenced in August 2013 to 35 years imprisonment, with the possibility of parole in the eighth year, and to be dishonorably discharged from the Army.
Manning told Amnesty International
These documents were important because they relate to two connected counter-insurgency conflicts in real-time from the ground. Humanity has never had this complete and detailed a record of what modern warfare actually looks like. Once you realize that the co-ordinates represent a real place where people live that the dates happened in our recent history; that the numbers are actually human lives—with all the love, hope, dreams, hatred, fear, and nightmares that come with them—then it’s difficult to ever forget how important these documents are.
In 2011, Manning was awarded a “Whistleblowerpreis” by the German Section of the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms and the Federation of German Scientists. In 2012, she was awarded “People’s Choice Award” awarded by Global Exchange. In 2013, she was awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize by the International Peace Bureau. In 2014, she was awarded the Sam Adams Award by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.
Icelandic and Swedish Pirate Party MPs nominated Manning and fellow whistleblower Edward Snowden for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. In a statement to the Nomination Committee, the Pirate Party members said Manning and Snowden “have inspired change and encouraged public debate and policy changes that contributed to a more stable and peaceful world”. In 2013, Roots Action launched a petition nominating Manning for the prize that received more than 100,000 supporting signatures.
In April 2015 a bronze statute of Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange was erected in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz. Germany’s Green Party sponsored the statue created by Italian sculptor David Dormino.
On September 3, 2013, Manning’s lawyer applied for a presidential pardon for his client. Coombs filed a Petition for Pardon/Commutation of Sentence to President Obama through the pardon attorney at the Department of Justice and Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh. In the petition, which was filed with the legal name “Bradley Manning” and used male-gender pronouns, Coombs contended that Manning’s disclosures did not cause any “real damage,” and that the documents in question did not merit protection as they were not sensitive. The request for a pardon included a supporting letter from Amnesty International which said that Manning’s leaks had exposed violations of human rights. Coombs’s letter touched on Manning’s role as a whistleblower, asking that Manning be granted a full pardon or that her sentence be reduced to time served.
After the election of Donald Trump in November 2016, Manning made a formal petition to President Obama to reduce her 35-year sentence to the six years of time she has served. On December 10, 2016, a White House petition to commute her sentence reached the minimum 100,000 signatures required for an official response.
Assigned in 2009 to an Army unit in Iraq as an intelligence analyst, Manning had access to classified databases. In early 2010, she leaked classified information to WikiLeaks and confided this to Adrian Lamo, an online acquaintance. Lamo informed Army Counterintelligence, and Manning was arrested in May that same year. The material included videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike, and the 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan; 251,287 U.S. diplomatic cables; and 482,832 Army reports that came to be known as the Iraq War Logs and Afghan War Diary. Much of the material was published by WikiLeaks or its media partners between April and November 2010.
Manning was ultimately charged with 22 offenses, including aiding the enemy, which was the most serious charge and could have resulted in a death sentence. She was held at the Marine Corps Brig, Quantico in Virginia, from July 2010 to April 2011 under Prevention of Injury status—which entailed de facto solitary confinement and other restrictions that caused domestic and international concern—before being transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she could interact with other detainees. She pleaded guilty in February 2013 to 10 of the charges. The trial on the remaining charges began on June 3, 2013, and on July 30 she was convicted of 17 of the original charges and amended versions of four others, but was acquitted of aiding the enemy. She is serving a 35-year sentence at the maximum-security U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.