Soldier Tried for Wikileaks Involvement Comes Out As Chelsea Manning

feature image via Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski

After being sentenced to 35 years in prison on a number of charges after collaborating with WikiLeaks to make classified government information public, the soldier who has ignited controversy and conversation about the difference between whistleblowing and treason has come out as Chelsea Manning, a trans woman. In Manning’s official statement made exclusively to TODAY, she thanked her supporters and talked about how she’d like to be referred to in the media and her future:

Subject: The Next Stage of My Life

I want to thank everybody who has supported me over the last three years. Throughout this long ordeal, your letters of support and encouragement have helped keep me strong. I am forever indebted to those who wrote to me, made a donation to my defense fund, or came to watch a portion of the trial. I would especially like to thank Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network for their tireless efforts in raising awareness for my case and providing for my legal representation.

As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.

Thank you,

Chelsea E. Manning

This isn’t a surprising announcement; based on some of the private online chats of Manning’s that were exposed during the investigation, it was implied that Manning wasn’t happy or comfortable with her gender presentation at the time, or with the prospect of the whole nation seeing her “as a boy” during the prosecution. And Manning’s gender identity was even used in her defense; Manning’s lawyers argued that the heteronormative, cissexist and DADT-compliant culture of the armed services contributed to Manning’s feelings of depression and isolation and may have been a factor in her decision to leak documents. They used an email that Manning had sent to her supervisor titled “my problem” that included a photo of Manning wearing makeup and a wig to support this argument in court. (A note: although this information has been available for some time, Autostraddle didn’t feel it was ethical to make a judgment of Manning’s gender identity based on documents she had never meant to be released publicly, and so had used masculine pronouns until today’s announcement. Feminine pronouns will of course be used for Manning from now on.)

Also unfortunately unsurprising is that many of the news outlets covering this story have been handling it very poorly, with egregious misgendering of Manning and a fundamental lack of understanding of basic facts about trans* identity. Trans Media Watch has encouraged readers to send their style guide to any publications they see engaging in problematic reporting and/or misgendering Manning. Gawker has published an article exploring the responsibility of media outlets in the wake of Manning’s sentencing and coming out:

Though the media and their sources both want to see news come to light, there is one big difference between them: the media is a powerful institution. Sources are not. Sources are disparate individuals with varying interests. The media is a vital social structure with well-established legal protections, and with the means to fight back strongly against any threats against it. “Never quarrel with a man who buys ink by the barrel,” goes the other old saying. …What this all means is that while the media and the source are equally morally responsible for the publication of a story, the media is (relatively) protected—by law, by resources, by institutional privilege, and by the ability to drum up public outrage—and the source is not protected at all, except by anonymity. If they are discovered, they are out of luck. So Chelsea Manning is sentenced to 35 years in prison, and all of the news outlets around the world that published hundreds and hundreds of stories based on the information that she disclosed shrug and carry on with their day.

While most media outlets probably won’t respond to the call to engage with Manning’s story in a politicized way, it does highlight how much Manning has given up for the information she shared. And given the fact that she’s now having to discuss her gender on a largely unforgiving global stage, it seems like very little is being asked of media outlets when she requests that they use her name and talk about her gender accurately (especially since the AP style guide already calls for this).

The prospects for Manning as she faces her prison sentence are fairly grim. As Mey outlined, trans women are rarely afforded the right to be imprisoned with other women, which Manning reminds us of as she asks supporters to use her former name when sending mail to her confinement facility. Although Manning expressed a desire to start hormone therapy in her statement, the Army has stated they won’t provide it, and it seems unlikely she’ll be allowed to be housed in a women’s prison. The ACLU has already issued a statement on the Army’s policy in this case, saying:

In response to Chelsea Manning’s disclosure that she is female, has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and will be seeking hormone therapy as a part of her transition during her incarceration, public statements by military officials that the Army does not provide hormone therapy to treat gender dysphoria raise serious constitutional concerns.

If the ACLU moves forward with their case that denying Manning hormone therapy may be unconstitutional, Manning’s case could become groundbreaking in another way; as the most high-profile incarcerated trans woman in America, and possibly providing precedents that would be helpful to incarcerated trans women who aren’t household names, like CeCe McDonald.

Hopefully, Manning’s supporters — from the numerous support sites and blogs started in her name to the people who protested outside her sentencing — will continue to support her, and to petition Obama for her pardon. As of right now, it’s unclear whether they’ll continue to stand by her. Bradleymanning.org has posted a story titled “Heroic whistle-blower addresses gender publicly: ready to move on to next phase of her life,” which contains Manning’s statement and uses her correct pronouns, but the site overall still contains many references to the name Bradley and masculine pronouns. The Free Bradley Manning Facebook page has not updated its name or pronouns and hasn’t made any comment since Manning’s announcement.

Chelsea Manning’s future in a confinement facility doesn’t look bright. Efforts to get Obama to pardon her are unlikely to succeed, and even if she doesn’t serve her entire 35-year-sentence, she will probably be in prison for the next 7-10 years. There is no reason to believe that her gender identity will be respected or acknowledged in prison, or that she will be able to access the medical treatment she’s asked for. But at least Manning, whose freedom has been restricted for so long now and will continue to be, has been able to tell this truth on her own terms.


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Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1034 articles for us.

47 Comments

  1. Moving forward, I think it’ll be important to see how she, as a trans woman, will be treated by the criminal justice system.

    Honestly, I wish her the best in this regard, but I do still hope we don’t forget the… problematic nature of her previous actions. A high-profile trans* pioneer? I’m all for it. An American hero? Yeah, not so much. Now that the sentence has been decided though, I do hope we focus on what she’s doing now.

    (Because this is still hotly debated, the reasons why I dislike glorifying Manning for the leaks are summed up well here: http://www.out.com/news-commentary/2012/05/31/bradley-manning-no-gay-hero. But really, whether it was “right” or “wrong” isn’t so much the point now.)

    • Wow, do I ever disagee with that article. The writers uses the word treachery for goodness sake.

      We are all entitled to our frames of reference, but for me I find absolutely nothing “problematic” about what she did. Government secrecy is illegitimate and unjustified 95-99% of the time in my opinion and when these “secrets” are revealed they almost always were secret only to cover up graft, murder or incompetance. Even in cases where lives were legitimately protected or saved then they should only have been secret for as long as necessary and no longer.

      We are still sitting in our new bases in Iraq and Afgahnistan. We commited an illegal, unjustified invasion that killed 600,000 people, MOST of them civillians. But Chelsea Manning is a traitor? No, she stood up for what our nation is supposed to believe in and for her insane bravery she has payed a massive price. She’s a hero to me and always will be. No ifs, ands or buts.

      The onus is always on power to justify itself. And to quote Bill Hicks, “All governmnets, are lying cocksuckers.”

      • After this I probably won’t engage in further Internet argumentation – we all have opinions and we’re likely not going to change each other’s minds.

        I’m not sure you caught my point. I should have clarified: There’s one paragraph in that article that describes the recklessness with which I take issue. I don’t consider Manning a traitor, just not some sort of hero.

        I’ve literally been a professional libertarian. My work pisses off the state while informing citizens that they’re getting screwed, and I am thrilled about it. I couldn’t care less about violating government secrecy when it covers up illegal and abusive activities. Likewise, I don’t care about the diplomatic cables etc. Manning leaked. I’m all for transparency – I’m glad Edward Snowden revealed illegal abuses of the rights of American citizens. I just don’t see how what Manning did was productive. The leaks sure as heck didn’t reveal that we were in an illegal war. We already knew that.

        My problem with Manning is that the leaks were indiscriminate. Names of human rights activists and dissidents in nations with oppressive governments were not redacted. Manning was reckless. If everyone with access to information just published what they knew, I wouldn’t consider them all heroes… especially given that the only reason they have access is that they swore not to do so. I think Snowden had a moral imperative. Just don’t see that with Manning. I understand the frustration with the government/military, but why not use her experience to become an activist? Why go this route? I fail to see how the leaks did anything more than embarrass the government and put people at risk.

        Anyway, that’s just my opinion.

        • I think exposing the recreational murder of civilian bystanders by American imperial troops alone justified everything Manning did.

          It’s laughable to say her leaks were unproductive. Wikileaks and Manning have served as flashpoints for the ability of everyday people to begin to examine and organize against the growing monstrosity of the deep state. I doubt very strongly there would have been a Snowden had Manning not stood up.

          Was she as systematic as many would like? No. She was a troubled kid being fed enormous amounts of information detailing in gruesome ways the extent of the empire’s militarized brutality. She naively hoped those she corresponded with would protect her as a source; and being more experienced, would take a judicious look at their releases.

          But her imprudence is marginal to irrelevant even if you care about the dubious privacy of the USA security apparatus. The kangaroo court which tried her exonerated her of aiding the enemy.

          What impresses me most about Chelsea Manning is that all her actions were done on the principled ground of conscientious rejection of a corrupt neocolonial adventurism shot through with ethnic schadenfreude. She saw the poison in the wound and sought to use her position to expose the bestial foundations of empire. To my mind, there is no more appropriate condition befitting the title of hero.

          Free Chelsea Manning!

        • @Brighid

          HA!

          you’re forgetting that Manning is a middle class white person who joined the American imperialist troops willingly and seemingly had no problem being paid a lot of money to help terrify and kill people of colour until she became aware that American civilians were hurt in the process – the fact that she’s the one being hailed as a hero – not the usually non-white activists who did work on the ground whose lives she endangered – is indicative of how imperialist American white supremacy work – the lives of white saviours will always be more valuable and more heroic.

        • Utterly twisted, untrue slander against Manning… It was the treatment of Iraqi detainees, the completely corrupt disregard for innocent Iraqi lives that shocked her into radical disobedience. Her leaks targeted military abuses such as the “collateral murder” in Bagdad ’07 and the Afghanistan bombing which killed about 100 random non-white civilians. This is all actually on record for those not willing to accept baseless slander. These “awful things” against non-American POC’s shook her to her core, inspiring her to direct action that most of us will never approach.

          I can’t account for Manning’s reasons for joining the military. I have some notions, but frankly I don’t care. And your reading of her as a “white saviour” is spuriously uncharitable at best. What is of interest is that when confronted with reality, she did what none others in her station dared to do – she chose to subvert the machinations of empire with direct action which sent her to her own private GTMO and very well may cost her her life. The part that matters, anyway. Faced with the price she is paying, what she actually laid on the line to do what she did, your prejudicial reading of her situation is ridiculously out of order.

      • I have no problem that she leaked some of the stuff that she leaked, but I have a huge problem with what she did. If she looked through the documents, redacted the fucking names of people that were working for basic human rights, and only released documents that showed the problems with what the US was doing I would have no issue with calling her a hero, BUT she released tens of thousands of unredacted documents some of which named names. Her actions put the lives of good people at risk. That is not heroic.

  2. Dear Chelsea,

    I would like to welcome you to THE LADY PARTY. But, I am absolutely fucking terrified for you right now. We’re doing what we can for you on the outside. If I could smuggle hormones in for you, I would. I truly would.

    • Something mess up and that got posted before I finished.

      call her by the name she wants Chelsea. I also wonder if she is during this point in time change her name legally to Chelsea now. Either way I hope military prisons are better about inmate harassment and abuse that civilian prisons.

      • On average, military prisons (other than Guantanamo) have certain advantages over civilian ones. Gangs tend to not be present (ie Aryan Brotherhood), more inmates tend to be first offenders as opposed to persons who have long rap sheets, and there is supposedly more careful supervision and increased safety. However, having a trans woman inmate in a military prison is a very different situation. Whether they treat them well or not (and I think we know the answer to that), most prisons are quite used to having trans women within their facilities. High security military prisons… she’s going to really stand out and given the reasons for her incarceration, I would be especially concerned how the guards will treat her. It’s my hope she’s assigned ASAP to a minimum security camp at Leavenworth and not the high security facility where I can pretty much guarantee she’s going to be held in solitary for inhumane stretches of time.

        • Held in solitary for inhuman stretches of time AGAIN, you mean. That she has already been tortured (as defined by the Geneva convention) by her government is reason enough why should be free.

  3. Classified material should be kept classified any person without a need to know o the proper clearance should not be viewing this information. Treat our military /gov like you would your medical records do you want a disgruntled hospital employee leaking all over the internet that your vagina looks like roadkill? I dunno I’m in the military so I 110 percent disagree with what this used to be soldier did

  4. Ugh, I was just leaving a comment on another news article that referred to Manning by her old name, in exclusively male terms, and talked about her “becoming” a woman. So gross.

    About BradleyManning.org – I think it’s clear from them referring to her as a hero and in her preferred terms that they will stand by her and respect her identity. I get that the name of the site still uses Chelsea’s old name and hasn’t updated its information about her, but it’s early days.

    • Ugh, I just watched the news and they said, “he wants to become a woman” too. I’m disgusted by all misgendering I’ve seen in the news media today. Chelsea clearly states that she wants to be referred to using feminine pronouns. It’s not that difficult.

      • It’s just fricking everywhere isn’t it? I know I shouldn’t be surprised but it really disappoints me. I really think if the media reported this in a respectful and appropriate way it would help educate people who might not be all that familiar with trans issues.

    • I related it to medical because I’m sure all of you have been to a doctor but not in the military. If a hospital leaks your records are you going to feel safe going there again? Then I imagine the hospital will develop new protocols to ensure the privacy of their patients. The difference is manning leaked military information that could have damaged more than just herself. No good reason to leak information that is not yours to leak. She was not the only one that has to deal with the consequences in this. I am just bothered by the fact she is being called a hero . Oh and why can’t I fix typos ?

      • The government is not a person, and hence doesn’t have the same inherent right to privacy that people do. That’s why the comparison to a person’s medical records isn’t a helpful analogy.

        • So your telling me that people that work for the government are not people so her leaking information endangering lives of operators doesn’t matter because we are government property ? What she did actually hurt actual people.

        • It’s disingenuous to claim that all of the information leaked was otherwise-innocent information about individual people that genuinely should have stayed private. Much of it was information about war crimes, which it’s anyone’s duty to make public if they come across it. If anyone innocent of any wrongdoing did get hurt as a result of Manning’s leaks, it’s the fault of the US government for concealing evidence of its wrongdoing in the same manner that it conceals genuinely private information about the people who work for it.

        • Just because someone works for the government that is trying to make a living should expect a fellow SM to leak in for.action that could get them killed ? No manning joined the military and upon obtaining her clearance accepted the consequences and severity of leaked information. She is leaking information because the govt is harming innocents while she is doing the same god damn thing to a different person that never pulled a damn trigger it is NOT the same.

        • Well, if the public is being forced to pay taxes to support y’all, why shouldn’t we know what you are doing? Why should you have a right to on-the-job privacy? If you want to pursue a career in an organization that murders people, I think you should at least have to be subjected to public scrutiny. Your work makes it easier for the US military to kill people. What is wrong with someone exposing you in a way that might make it easier for the opponents of the US military to kill you? I consider the US military the bully of the world, and while many of its opponents are also unethical, the US military is generally the most unethical. Look at how it destroyed the countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan. It’s reprehensible. People associated with the US military deserve no deference, secrecy, or special protection. I’m glad Chelsea Manning undermined y’all from the inside. Treason to you is loyalty to humanity.

  5. I’m not sure how much longer this will be current, but if you want to send support letters to Chelsea Manning, this is the address. They screen everything, so watch what you say. (But we are ALL getting used to that, yes?) The jailers require use of her former name on the envelope.

    Commander, HHC USAG
    Attn: PFC Bradley Manning
    239 Sheridan Ave, Bldg 417
    JBM-HH, VA 22211

    I can’t imagine the hell she has been enduring. Save, perhaps, that as a transsexual woman, the prospect of enduring a future bereft of life saving treatment would be beyond my personal capacity to endure. The military’s decision to withhold HRT from Manning is plain torture. Say what you like about Chelsea, she has grit. She’s been in hell for 3 years, and now the world is laughing in her face for daring to speak her own true name. No doubt kind sympathy and illustrations of quotidian life from the freer world beyond will be of deep succor to her in this trying time.

    Free Chelsea Manning!

    • Looks like her address has changed:

      Bradley E. Manning
      89289
      1300 N. Warehouse Road
      Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
      66027-2304

      I know I’ll be sitting down to write her a letter this weekend. As a veteran I can’t get behind what she did, but as I trans woman I sympathize with the pain she has and will go through in the coming months or years of being denied proper treatment for her condition.

  6. On one hand, I honestly support her transition. She should be allowed to serve her sentence in a women’s prison and receive the hormone therapy she needs. I can seriously respect the courage it must’ve taken to expose herself on this grand a scale. You go girl!

    BUT, the woman is going to prison, and she should go to prison. I, personally, can’t justify calling her a “hero”. She was reckless and willingly leaked information she shouldn’t have. End of story for me. I know it’s not the popular vote here, but that’s just my opinion as someone who works in the same field.

  7. When I first saw the story I read the Guardian, the BBC, the NYT and the Washington Post (not that I don’t hate the post, generally, but it was one of the most tweeted for the moment).

    The Guardian story immediately started using feminine pronouns and the Times and Post just repeated Manning over and over to avoid pronouns all together. But the BBC was all He He He He His His He. I read the article 3 times to make sure I wasn’t confusing “he” refering to Chelsea’s lawyer etc. Drove me crazy (though didn’t surprise me).

    I checked back yesterday evening (well, late afternoon in ‘Merica) and they had edited most of the story to use Pte Manning or the soldier, but STILL let “he” at the start of the article. I was glad they had made at least some effort, but if you are going to edit the entire article WHY leave one He in there? WHY BBC?! Sigh.

    I kind of expected most news outlets to eff it up, but I think since I’d read the Guardian first I was actually hopeful the BBC wouldn’t.

  8. Ah, remember seeing this on the morning news, sans proper use of pronouns and name (literally “Bradley Manning wants to change his gender” – that’s gotta be a new record for incorrect statements in one sentence). Haven’t been following the story (I’m Australian and have only vaguely been following Wikileaks since Assange started sleeping on some embassy’s couch) so I can’t comment on the morality of what she did, but good on her for coming out, and I hope she receives all the support she needs.

  9. The US Military routinely commits war crimes and srimes against humanity, Chelsea is a hero for exposing that. The fact is any country or military that breaks international law has no right to secrecy, and by such law it was actually Chelsea’a duty to expose it. If you take the Nuremburg Trials as an example, then all members of organisations such as the SS were considered war criminals and following orders was no excuse. The only excuse allowed for complicity with war crimes was coercion, which means when you are forced to do something for fear for your life. Therefore to apply this logic to the US military or any other modern military then unless yiur life is being threatened, you have no excuse for being complicit in war crimes. Chelsea therefore did the only moral and legal thing.

    I am not a US citizen, and to be honest I couldn’t care less if the US armies secrets are exposed, I think it is a poor line of reasoning to argue some sort of treachery on her part. I mean who is she supposed to be betraying, the US? the US Army? The US is an imperialist power, accountable for huge numbers of crimes over seas and within it’s own borders. As far as I’m concerned complicity with these crimes is a betrayal of the human race.

    • THIS. THIS. THIS. I’m a US citizen, and I agree with you 100%. I’m not about to commit treason personally because I’m too afraid of the punishment I could face. . .besides I don’t have the power or access to really do much. But treason to the United States is definitely NOT ethically wrong. Treason to the United States is loyalty to humanity. Chelsea Manning is a hero.

  10. Rachel this article was so awesome! I’ve been so frustrated with the media coverage of Manning’s coming out. It is nice to hear someone address the issues not just with news outlets but with Bradleymanning.org and the Facebook group.

  11. I really hate to be the dissenter, as it’s probably going to open me up to a long internet debate (which are the worst!), but I thought that as someone who has a strong background in Middle Eastern Studies and who went through all the clearance requirements to get job offers from both the CIA and the DIA (though in the end turned down the offers due to moral conflicts), I should put in my two cents.

    I don’t think she’s a hero. I think that she–like those of us who are at the bottom of the barrel in a crap job, bossed around by people who are less intelligent, forced into the closet–disclosed the information not because she was doing it for the greater good of the American people, but because she was a disgruntled employee trying to exhibit some sort of power within her life.

    For the most part, classified information is classified for a reason. Releasing this info to the public puts MANY people’s lives at risk, specifically those out in the field (not just American/allied soldiers but Iraqi civilians as well). I’m sure some of you remember the Valerie Plame case. Some of it, yes, is to shield the public eye from unjust acts of war, but one cannot take an absolutist stance regarding the release of classified information. The ways of politics, war, etc are extremely complicated and even something that seems like it’s a good thing that it got out in the public (such as prisoner torture, use of white phosphorus, the killing of children) causes HUGE diplomatic problems, further terrorist attacks (it fuels and feeds into the various ideologies), and places the US and other countries as targets. Not that I’m saying necessarily that things like I mentioned SHOULDNT ever be released, but just that things are not so black and white.

    The world is a mess because of this ridiculous “war” (if you can call it that), which was pointless, poorly planned/executed, and in my opinion, further fed into the extremist ideologies that the war itself was supposedly fighting against. After graduation, I was offered A LOT of money by various government organizations who were fighting over who would get me. I have a background in Middle Eastern/N African history and have working knowledge of Arabic, Hebrew and Persian. After much debate within myself, I decided to turn down every single one of these offers (in lieu of grad school), because I did not want to put myself in a position where I would be forced to make a decision that went against my own morality and pov toward the war; however, the war has happened whether we like it or not and we’re here in this mess; everything–every move requires sensitivity and in some cases, unfortunately, non-disclosure.

    All that being said, I’m extremely impressed by the media’s sensitivity toward Manning’s affirmation of being a woman. Every article I have read thus far today has respected her wishes as to be referred to with feminine pronouns and as Chelsea. Good job, world!

    • I have mixed feeling about what Manning did. On the one hand, I think she did it for the right reasons: exposing abuses that our government tried to cover up. On the other hand, I agree with what other commenters have said about how she could have gone for a more targeted release. Not taking the time to redact names put people at risk, many of whom are innocent of the crimes committed by our government. I feel like her heart was in the right place, but that she acted recklessly.

      Even if she did something wrong, she still deserves to be treated with decency and respect. Whether or not Ms. Manning is a hero, she is human, and she deserves a safe place to live and proper medical care. I really hope that she is at least able to win the fight to receive hormone treatment (and whatever other care she needs). The right to receive health care in prison, including hormones for transgender inmates, has been previously upheld in court, so it seems like she has a strong case. If it’s required in civilian prisons, there is absolutely no reason it shouldn’t be required in a military facility.

      I really hope that she will get paroled as soon as possible so that she actually has an opportunity to live her life as the person she was meant to be. Even though I disagree with her actions, 35 years is insanely excessive. She’ll never have clearance to view classified government documents again, so there’s no threat of reoffense, and she’s already been through hell (including months in solitary) just waiting to be sentenced. That is more than punishment enough.

    • 1) I think this is a derail… this thread is about her opening outing herself as a trans woman (which anyone who’s followed her story since 2010 already knew), not her guilt or innocence. But…

      2) The term “hero” is absurd anyway… who cares whether someone is a hero or not. I happen to agree with what she did (and feel anyone has a right to fight against these incursions) and have yet to see a viable shred of evidence that it’s negatively impacted US military staff other than embarrassing higher ups and the people who claimed our networks of information were secure. The fact that a very low level analyst going through intense personal trauma who never should have been deployed at all was on them makes a joke of those networks.

      In court, the prosecution was required to prove the revealed classified materials had a provable negative impact on the United States… they were unable to do so (which is partly why the aiding the enemy charge was thrown out). Heroes are complex… one person’s hero is another’s terrorist or criminal. Supposed heroes who rescued someone from a burning car have later turned out to be convicted spousal abusers. Why even argue over this term? I agree with what she did, you don’t.

      3) “classified information is classified for a reason” You’re kidding, right?

      4) I fail to see how you can bring up the Valerie Plame case… really a far more serious breach of security which was done at the highest levels of government and not see the absurdity of how Ms. Manning is sentenced to 35 years while Chaney and Karl Rove got off scott free. How US corporations clandestinely sell high end military technologies (largely developed with US government funds) to other countries and make huge sums of money doing so. Do any of those people end up thrown into a naked solitary confinement for 1 year or in prison for 3 1/2 years before they even get a trial?

      5) Jonathan Pollard, a genuine spy who purposely passed on real high level military and intelligence secrets to the Mossad is due to be released in 2015… his wife, also a spy, was similarly involved yet released after 3 years of prison. John Walker, former naval officer who spied for the USSR for 17 years and passed on US military secrets (weapon development secrets), is due to be released in 2015. Daniel Ellsberg (a hero of mine) didn’t spend one day in prison for releasing the Pentagon Papers. No one else in US history has ever gotten more than one or two years in prison for releasing classified information to the press. Yet Ms. Manning is being sentenced as though she’s a spy.

      Please don’t compare your situation to hers. Did you come from a low-income high dysfunctional family, basically no steady home, with a mom who had serious addiction issues, being picked on every day for being small and feminine? There are a lot of people who join the military to escape the mess they’re living in. Unless you’re in a similar situation, you have no right to judge or compare.

      • As I stated, I was opening up myself to criticism, but I don’t like to engage in internet debates. I just will say one thing…yes, I came from a low-income, high dysfunctional family, moved more than 14 times before I was 8 years old, and my father has serious addiction issues (as well as my mother’s mental health being dubious). I was made fun of in school relentless by my peers to the point of where I would purposefully try to get myself sick so I could stay home and avoid the abuse.

        I was not judging–just merely stating my opinion. I really don’t think that whether or not I had a bad or good upbringing really should be brought into the conversation as to whether or not I have a right to an opinion.

    • “Even something that seems like it’s a good thing that it got out in the public (such as prisoner torture, use of white phosphorus, the killing of children) causes HUGE diplomatic problems, further terrorist attacks (it fuels and feeds into the various ideologies), and places the US and other countries as targets.”

      I didn’t want to respond to your post, because I think it’s derailing from what this is actually about (Chelsea Manning coming out as a trans woman), but are you serious? If killing civilian children and torturing prisoners damages America’s international reputation, then perhaps the US shouldn’t engage in those things. Innocent people die horribly and people don’t get to know about it because it might trash the American brand?

    • Actually, I CAN take an absolutist stance regarding the release of classified information. Release it all, and fuck the military. The fact that the military wants to keep it classified is reason enough to release it actually. Anything that undermines a corrupt, homicidal, imperialistic organization that is oppressing the whole world is a good thing.

      And who are these Iraqi civilians whose lives were endangered? Snitches? Informants? Collaborators? The US military has killed more people in Iraq than all the al Qaedas, all the Sunni militias, all the Shiite militias put together. How is it ethical to take the side of the US in this? The US military is the enemy of Iraq, the enemy of Afghanistan, the enemy of what’s good, the enemy of humanity. The unethical thing would have been if Chelsea Manning had continued to work at her job WITHOUT releasing all these documents.

  12. Aubstoper,

    I felt as if your previous post read like a comparison between your morality vs. Ms. Mannings. If that somehow wasn’t your intention then I apologize, but it read that way to me. Your opinion had judgement as a core component and it came off like ‘if I can avoid the military why can’t she?’ ‘If I understand this, then why didn’t she?’ Moreover, I found some of your assumptions… that the materials released make the US inherently more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, are completely unsubstantiated. Murdering children, torturing prisoners and using weapons which burn the flesh of anyone in the area should be called out. Our nation’s self-serving choices should be called out. Believe me, Ms. Manning isn’t responsible for making many people around the world hate the US and not trust our intentions and even want to attack us. To try and suggest that she’s somehow the one making our country more vulnerable is reductionist thinking and I don’t care if it’s your opinion, if you try to brand her with that I’m going to disagree with you.

  13. I was pretty bummed this afternoon listening to NPR as they misgendered her throughout the segment. I usually consider NPR a reasonably decent source for news but as I listened they stated their policy as such: “Until Bradley Manning’s desire to have his gender changed actually physically happens, we will be using male-related pronouns to identify him”.

    Thankfully when I checked back tonight they’ve reversed their stance: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/08/23/214941331/npr-issues-new-guidance-on-mannings-gender-identity.

  14. I have no probs with the chick being treacherous and a villain. Whatevs, one woman’s heroes are ALWAYS bound to be another’s villains. By which i mean name your heroes and there is a large chance i despise them, don’t consider them people and want to see them slowly, painfully dying, all alone. Mine are mostly fictional, but i would think if they were real you would feel the same way about them. E.g. SHODAN or Palpatine. It’s the way it is.

    But one thing you folks laying into her don’t get. And you don’t get it in a very Blade Runner-esque way. See, she has no ‘task’ to accomplish, no ‘purpose’ to her existence, no ‘public trust’ to serve. She just… is. Much like you. I know it’s a hard thing to acknowledge but yea, she has no other reason to exist than the existence itself. Self-sacrifice in betterment of baseliner lives, aka heroism, is not what she’s here in this world for. She’s here for… no particular bloody reason. With no obligations to come with it. The reason to support or empathise with her is not because she’s a GOOD somethingorother. No, it’s called basic consideration for a fellow sentient.

    It hurts me to see her in the situation she is in, betrayed by all the ‘progressive’ media, pointed towards and turned in by all the hip ‘freedom figters’ and ‘activists’ she trusted – and who btw made millions with her info. Poor girl, best of luck – and if not, it’s orgies and beer in paradise.

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