Glenn Greenwald writes that he and First Look Media, the parent company that publishes The Intercept that he and others write for, has announced a $60,000 matching gift to help Chelsea Manning in her legal defense. We should never forget Manning’s heroic actions and revelations that preceded those of Edward Snowden, and had such a major positive impact. Her release of the video that showed a US gunship mercilessly and gleefully mowing down Iraqi civilians in the street in broad daylight horrified the world and exposed the brutality of the US occupation.
For that ‘crime’ she was sentenced to 35 years in prison. She was incarcerated at the age of 22, has already served five years, and will not be eligible to be even considered for release for another seven years.
Greenwald reminds us of what she did.
As I’ve argued for years, Chelsea Manning is one of this generation’s greatest heroes. Daniel Ellsberg has called her “the personification of the word whistleblower.” Originally convinced of the noble intentions of the U.S. government generally and the Iraq War specifically, she enlisted in the U.S. Army. While deployed in Baghdad, she had access to troves of truth-revealing documents, which fundamentally changed her views and which she believed the global public also had the right to see.
Knowingly risking her own liberty, she gave those documents (none of which was top secret) to WikiLeaks for publication in order to trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms,” as she said during what she thought was a private chat with someone who turned government informant. The first Manning/WikiLeaks release — a video showing U.S. forces gunning down civilians along with two Reuters journalists while the soldiers chuckled and joked — sparked global outrage and debate.
To this day, the materials she made public — which revealed massive wrongdoing, deceit and criminality — are centrally featured in journalism about critical stories in the public interest all over the world. These disclosures played a role in sparking the Arab Spring by exposing corruption of that region’s tyrants as well as thwarting U.S. efforts to stay longer in Iraq by documenting brutal war crimes committed there by American forces.
She could have enriched herself by selling those documents to a foreign intelligence agency or media outlet for enormous sums, but did none of that. That’s because she had only one motive: to inform citizens around the world of what their governments are doing in the dark.
Manning is pursuing important appeals that deserve to be supported.
Manning is now pursuing an appeal on several aspects of her conviction, which, if successful, could significantly reduce her prison term. The appeal involves complex and unsettled questions of law, as well as a long and complicated trial, and is thus incredibly expensive. It is also of great societal importance, as the outcome of the appeal will likely affect the rights and defenses of all sorts of other whistleblowers in the future.
Those who wish to can donate to her defense fund by going here.
It is not just the money that will help her. Even if people contribute a small amount, that sign of support will be of great encouragement to someone who took on the might of the powerful and vindictive US government.