Should Manning Get Clemency?
Obama has granted it for drug offenders. He should do so for the Army whistleblower
This past week, Charlie Savage at the New York Times offered the most current and comprehensive account of former Army soldier-turned-whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s conditions of confinement. It is the story of the tortured existence of a tormented soul:
On Aug. 22, 2013, the day after her sentencing for sending documents to WikiLeaks, Ms. Manning’s lawyer read a statement on the “Today” show announcing that she was female, wanted to be called “Chelsea” rather than “Bradley” and would seek cross-sex hormone therapy.
To observers of her court-martial, this was no surprise. Her motivation for leaking hundreds of thousands of files she had copied from a classified computer network while serving in Iraq, as she wrote at the time, was hope that they would spark “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.” But at her trial, she apologized and noted that she was “dealing with a lot of issues” when she had made that decision.
Testimony showed that she had been in a mental and emotional crisis as she came to grips, in the stress of a war zone, with the fact that she was not merely gay, as she had believed while growing up in Oklahoma, but had gender dysphoria — a disconnect between one’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth. In the months before her leaks and May 2010 arrest, she had been behaving erratically and emailed a picture of herself wearing a woman’s wig to her supervisor.
The former head of American military operations and the CIA got a legal golden parachute for his unauthorized classified information disclosures to his mistress, while Manning faces the rest of her life behind bars — despite the fact that her revelations resulted in the deaths of zero Americans but helped to expose the fraud that was George W. Bush’s war of aggression (and possibly revenge) against Iraq. It’s harder to find a greater perversion of “justice” involving the National Security State in the Age of Endless War and Terrormongering.
There will never be a way for Barack Obama to truly atone for making the #SurveillanceState a de facto permanent feature of our political and social lives, or for his misguided and immoral war on whistleblowers that has only emboldened creatures like ex-NSA IG George Ellard — but Obama can right this one wrong by granting clemency to Manning before he leaves office, and before the federal government’s daily cruel and unusual punishment of her drives her to a final, successful completion of suicide.