The whole Chelsea Manning story. Read it for yourself.

Posted: January 18, 2017 in Political musings
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Read the facts, and make your own mind up.

Read the facts, and make your own mind up.

Wikipedia has a thorough and excellently sourced article on Chelsea, formerly Bradley, Manning, and his life, actions, trial and imprisonment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelsea_Manning

It should be required reading before anyone – anyone – comments on her case, or on Obama’s commutation of her sentence.

Manning’s story is a modern heroic tragedy. More than anything, it is an exemplary lesson about the difficulties faced by gay and transgender people in a strongly machismo-rich environment like the United States armed services. Given her challenges, and the way she was treated in the Army, Manning was essentially a mentally fragile train wreck waiting to happen, who should never have held such a sensitive position. The US Army must at the very least being considered morally culpable for her transgressions, especially as Manning herself made them aware of the difficulties she was experiencing on multiple occasions.

There is no question that Manning is highly intelligent, strongly motivated, and ethically-driven. She may also suffer from a variety of mental challenges, such as Asperger’s. Whilst this would normally elicit sympathy for her, because of her role in Wikileaks it is ignored. It certainly wasn’t taken into account in the brutal 35 year sentence she received, of which she has served 6, often in appalling circumstances that were officially judged to amount to torture.

Ironically, the West awards and applauds a movie like The Danish Girl, addressing exactly the same topic, and yet Manning receives little or no care, no understanding, and plenty of abuse.

Let us be absolutely clear: whether born of personal distress or a sense of rage at the injustices she discovered – and it was in all likelihood a mixture of the two – what Manning did when she realised what was being perpetrated by American forces and diplomats was morally entirely supportable, and resulted in a wide-ranging re-assessment of international relations and the conduct of war both specifically and in general.

Those who believe she should not have been a “whistle-blower” need to ask themselves, “What is it that was in the Wikileaks Iraq files that you consider that you personally – because that is where we must reduce this matter to, in making a moral judgement – that you personally are either too stupid or too dangerous to be trusted with?”

The answer of course is “Nothing”.

Manning shone a torch on the machinations of armies and their political leaders, and the world is much better for it. She exposed murder, committed in our name. She exposed double dealing and bare-faced lying. She exposed corruption. She was the agent for the oxygen of publicity on a variety of topics that we needed to know, and we should thank her for it.

Did anyone suffer harm as a result of her disclosures? No. Multiple intelligence sources have confirmed that no one was hurt as a result, because of her own redacting of the files to remove personally identifying information, and subsequent redactions by media organisations.

Was she embarrassing to those in power? Yes – hugely. Did she do anything wrong? Strictly legally, yes, but then so do many whistle blowers. Is she a hero? Yes, she is.

We owe her a great deal, and that should include, we would argue, making every effort to help her get on with rebuilding her life.

It’ll all make a great movie, too. And when Oliver Stone (or someone similar) makes that movie, we are certain that history will come down very sympathetically on her side. For today, we just rejoice that she will soon be free.

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Comments
  1. underwriiter505 says:

    I did look up the case a while ago, because I am a veteran, and my military and ex-military friends got it into their heads that she had not, and should have, “followed the chain of command.” Frankly, the chain of command in a case involving violations of the Geneva convention is a little flexible. It starts with your immediate superior, and then, if you get no satisfaction, goes to your immediate superior’s immediate superior, and so on. However, if at any point, you have reason to believe the information, and/or you, will not get a fair hearing, you may skip a link. If you get by any combination of steps and skips to the senior person at your location and still have no satisfaction or no confidence, you are supposed to go to a chaplain before going off base, and that’s the step that is missing, apparently. Although I must say, while I have known many wonderful chaplains while in the military, I have also known one or two I would not trust as far as I could throw the altar. And I am cisgendered and straight. I am certainly inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt, especially in the current climate in the US regarding whistleblowers of any kind.

    None of what I have said is intended as an endorsement or a vote of confidence or any kind of benefit of the doubt to Julian Assange.

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