Chelsea Manning

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How Chelsea Manning sees herself, by Alicia Neal, in cooperation with Manning herself, commissioned by the Chelsea Manning Support Network, April 23, 2014
We must stay strong and stay together.
—Chelsea Manning[1]
It doesn't stop
at the water's edge

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Chelsea Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning, 1987) is a US army soldier who released a large quantity of restricted material to the public in 2010. She was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 35 years in jail in 2013. Barack Obama commuted her sentence in January 2017.


Manning, disgusted both with the homophobic policies in the military and distressed by the intelligence data she was handling, walked into work one day with a blank CD-R with the words LADY GAGA Sharpied onto the label. She put the CD in a MacBook drive, burned the copied confidential material onto the disc and mailed said disc to Julian Assange, owner of the inconveniently blunt website WikiLeaks. What Assange found was possibly the most incriminating examples of American military malfeasance since the Pentagon Papers ruined Nixon's day. Besides a collection of diplomatic cables that opened every dirty closed-door secret on the entire Western military infrastructure (including insights on the boozy sex-capades of Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi), it revealed a portrait of ground-level US troops objectively functioning as war criminals. This, of course, made a lot of people upset at Manning for spoiling their fantasy that the US military had actually been doing something right for a change.

Unfortunately, Manning's whistle-blowing technique of "copy everything and send it out without reading it" wasn't the smartest decision, and it led to the release of documents that, among other things, revealed the names of some of the last remaining Jews residing in Baghdad,[2] where they face heavy persecution and hatred from the city's Muslim majority.

In March 2011, Manning was charged with 22 specifications, including aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it was accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, and transmitting defense information. On February 28, 2013, a judge accepted guilty pleas to 10 of the 22 specified charges. Later that year, Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy by knowingly giving out intelligence through indirect means, and was convicted of 19 of the 21 or 22 specified charges, including theft and six counts of espionage.


Manning is a trans woman. Because she made this announcement at roughly the same time that she was convicted for the aforementioned releasing of classified documents, a bunch of people made noise about how she wasn't really transgender, but just trying to get out of serving time in a men's prison. This makes perfect sense, since as we all know, the surest way to avoid bullying is to pretend to be transgender.

Although this was most prominent among ordinary people on the Internet, that bastion of classy journalism Fox News was not above this sort of bullshit. Fox's Jon Scott combined it with a pathetically transparent face-saving "some might say" line:

You know, there are cynics out there, and maybe I'm one of them, who say maybe this is all part of a plan to get, you know, early release or parole or a new trial or something, by maintaining some kind of a ruse here that isn't necessarily the case.
—Via Media Matters

Some within the transgender community, one of the most vocal being Kristin BeckWikipedia's W.svg, are also less than thrilled with having to be put into the same category as Manning.[3] In 2014, she successfully was granted a name change by Leavenworth County District Judge David King.[4]

Treatment in prison

Manning has been denied treatment for her gender dysphoria in prison.[5] She has sued to get treatment for gender dysphoria.[6] Manning has spent more than 9 months in solitary confinement.[7] As a result of her mistreatment in prison, she made two suicide attempts.[8] After her first suicide attempt, she was punished with further time in solitary confinement.[9] She was released in May 2017.

After prison

Following her release from prison, Manning became an activist for government transparency and transgender rights, among other progressive causes, and ran for Senator of Maryland as a Democrat.[10]

See also

External Links