Chelsea Manning

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Manning 2017

Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (born December 17, 1987) is a United States Army soldier who was convicted in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after releasing the largest set of classified documents ever leaked to the public. Manning was sentenced in August 2013 to 35 years confinement with the possibility of parole in eight years, and to be dishonorably discharged from the Army.


  • The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seeming delightful blood-lust the aerial weapons team happened to have. They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life, and referred to them as quote-unquote 'dead bastards,' and congratulated each other on their ability to kill in large numbers. ... For me, this seemed similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass....I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained [in the leaks], it could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan."
  • I don't cooperate with grand juries or the police ever. That's just my standard policy.
  • The most violent people in prison, time and time again, were the prison staff. Always. There was never an exception, right? [...] When you have the state, you know, to back you up, and you have state immunity, and you have authority over another person, like, almost absolute authority over another person, and you've stripped the other person's credibility away, then you can just do whatever you want. And the things that they do are just cruel. You know, sure, not every prison guard is cruel, but every single one of them looks the other way at the ones who are and backs up the ones who are.
  • It's not like there's anything wrong with the lockdowns, right, and I wanna be clear about that. That's come up before, it's like, no, the lockdowns were necessary for public health reasons, 'cause we had a mass casualty event hit the United States and we needed to try to keep people safe. But the impact of being locked down for a significant chunk of time is going to produce an added layer of that trauma. And we just kind of have to take care of ourselves and be gentle with ourselves.
  • It turns out that being on the left and having actual principles isn't very profitable.
  • This is the thing about the right, is that they just wanna win. If there's anything I've learned from being around people on the far-right my entire life, it is that they just wanna own libs. They just want their enemies to lose. And if that means killing themselves in the process, then yeah, let's go!
    • Interview with QAnon Anonymous Podcast, 2 June 2021

Letter to Barack Obama (2013)

Letter to Barack Obama (22 August 2013) sent to the president, as read by defense attorney David Coombs following Manning's sentencing Wednesday
  • The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.
  • I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized that (in) our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.
  • In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.
  • Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order to carry out some ill-conceived mission.
  • Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy -- the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the Japanese-American internment camps -- to mention a few. I am confident that many of the actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.
  • As the late Howard Zinn once said, "There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."
  • I understand that my actions violated the law; I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.
  • If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Quotes about Manning


(most recent first)

Manning was tried, convicted, and imprisoned for nearly seven years. Deservedly so. From a reputational standpoint, that probably should have been the end of it. But it was not: the prisoner Bradley Manning became Chelsea Manning, a transgender woman, and the societal forces that endorse and celebrate victimhood transformed a wartime traitor into a persecuted hero. When Chelsea Manning emerged from prison in May 2017, the perceptual transformation was complete. ~ Dan Crenshaw
  • The episode of Chelsea Manning and the Harvard Institute of Politics fellowship is instructive. You may recall that Bradley Manning, as he was known back when serving as a low-level United States Army intelligence analyst, chose to violate his oath and betray his country. He downloaded an astonishing quantity of classified information about the American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and sent it all to WikiLeaks. Manning was tried, convicted, and imprisoned for nearly seven years. Deservedly so. From a reputational standpoint, that probably should have been the end of it. But it was not: the prisoner Bradley Manning became Chelsea Manning, a transgender woman, and the societal forces that endorse and celebrate victimhood transformed a wartime traitor into a persecuted hero. When Chelsea Manning emerged from prison in May 2017, the perceptual transformation was complete.
  • This was the background to the announcement on September 13, 2017, when Chelsea Manning received a visiting fellowship at the Harvard Institute of Politics. A prestigious institution was taking on board a controversial progressive celebrity- despite the fact that Manning had no experience in the very thing that the Institute of Politics specialized in: politics. Manning didn't even know much about national security, considering her time in the Army was brief and low-level. There was no evidence whatsoever that Manning's qualifications met the standard for such a position. What exactly were students expected to learn from her? How to betray their country? But Chelsea Manning was a persecuted "whistleblower" turned LBGTQ activist- and so Chelsea Manning was receiving elite institutional approval. It was victimhood worship manifested into reality at one of our country's most preeminent institutions.
  • Luckily, the remnants of the American conscience that still believe betraying your country is actually not something to be celebrated, took action. Former CIA director Michael Morrell resigned his own Harvard fellowship. Then-CIA director Mike Pomeo canceled a public appearance at Harvard. And two days after it was announced that Chelsea Manning was a Harvard visiting fellow, it was announced that Chelsea Manning was not. Students at Harvard tried to cry foul, claiming LBGTQ discrimination. But of course that had nothing to do with it. Manning had no business being elevated to the status of Harvard fellow in the first place, and everyone knew it. That's how it should work: Victimhood should not be a cover story for crimes, excuse traitors to the country, open doors of opportunity, nor secure a Harvard visiting fellowship. For two days, Harvard was going to allow victimhood to do all those things- until people stood up to it, and the house of cards collapsed.
  • Our governments feel threatened by Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange, because they are whistleblowers, journalists, and human rights activists who have provided solid evidence for the abuse, corruption, and war crimes of the powerful, for which they are now being systematically defamed and persecuted. They are the political dissidents of the West, and their persecution is today’s witch-hunt, because they threaten the privileges of unsupervised state power that has gone out of control. The cases of Manning, Snowden, Assange and others are the most important test of our time for the credibility of Western rule of law and democracy and our commitment to human rights.... It is about the integrity of the rule of law, the credibility of our democracies and, ultimately, about our own human dignity and the future of our children.
  • Daniel Ellsberg exposed the Pentagon Papers. He just released a statement regarding Chelsea Manning, who was jailed Friday by the U.S. government for refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify in front of a grand jury believed to be investigating WikiLeaks’s publishing activities. Manning revealed information that WikiLeaks made public, including the “Collateral Murder” video: “Chelsea Manning is again acting heroically in the name of press freedom, and it’s a travesty that she has been sent back to jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury. An investigation into WikiLeaks for publishing is a grave threat to all journalists’ rights, and Chelsea is doing us all a service for fighting it. She has already been tortured, spent years in jail, and has suffered more than enough. She should be released immediately.”
  • Manning's leak gave Reuters, and the world, a graphic view of the horror of modern war, of the violent death of two media workers in the line of duty... Manning took incredibly courageous actions to release data, to pierce the fog of war, to make public the machinations of modern American war-making. Edward Snowden has exposed the sophistication and extraordinary reach of the US surveillance state, cracking down on those who would dare to release information. And Julian Assange sits within the four walls of his embassy redoubt, persecuted for the crime of publishing. Yet those who planned the wars, those who committed war crimes, those who conduct illegal spying, for now, walk free.
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