On May 17, Chelsea Manning was released after receiving a commuted sentence from former President Obama, shortly before Donald Trump’s election.
Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, received a 35-year sentence in 2013; convicted of 20 counts including espionage, theft and computer fraud. Although Manning spent 7 years in prison, she told the ABC her intentions of moving on:
“I appreciate the wonderful support that I have received from so many people across the world over these past years,” she said. “As I rebuild my life, I remind myself not to relive the past.”
However, it is important to remind ourselves of the sacrifice the former intelligence analyst gave, leaking to the world via WikiLeaks the infamous battlefield video ‘Collateral Murder’, and informing the civilians of the world about the US military’s disregard for human life and the effects of war on civilians.
In this light, it is important we remember what Manning did for us.
The “Iraq War Logs”
Published by WikiLeaks, the material handed over by Manning to Assange documented the official US policy to ignore any and all torture in Iraq. The insidious nature of the evidence released detailed logs of torture used against prisoners. These included the use of electric drills to bore holes into their legs, and whippings against bare feet with heavy cables.
The logs also noted that the US insisted that it would not investigate the abuse allegations against the Iraqi government. The direct violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, where the prohibition of the Armed Forces transference of a detainee to a nation “where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture” had occurred under US government knowledge.
Also, US defense contractors DynCorp received backlash after logs revealed them colluding in child trafficking. Manning’s release of documents had shed light on the $2 billion in US tax dollars spent on a party “for Afghan security recruits featuring boys purchased from child traffickers for entertainment.” According to the cables released, the then assistant US ambassador was encouraged to “quash” the story.
Then there was…
Although the Iraq War Logs told a story of US deceit and disregard for human lives, other Manning files released painted a bigger picture. The Guantanamo Files pointed to the indiscriminate capturing and detaining of innocent or very low-level operatives, not to mention the torture of prisoners.
Evidence also appeared, contradicting both Bush and Obama on civilian death tallies in Iraq and Afghanistan. The former presidents maintained there were no official counts for civilian casualties. In actual fact, thanks to Manning’s release of the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, we were given an official tally of men, women, and children civilian deaths for each Iraqi combatant. That equated to 66,081 non-combatant deaths.
We also received the Collateral Murder video showing Reuters journalists shot down; the Obama administration cover-up of the US drone bombing campaign in Yemen; and Egyptian torturers receiving FBI training.
Outside these military operations, we gained access to cables documenting a US push to keep Haitian minimum wages low for the sake of free trade agreements. The US heavily monitored Haitian student protesters at the time.
What Manning gave to us was a freedom to understand the US military, the US government and their partners in crime on the international stage. Manning gave 7 years of her life so the world could discard its ignorance and understand fully the world in which we live.
It is for this freedom we should say – ‘thank you.’
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