Two days before the end of the Obama administration, the failed ”icon of 2008” decided to do something good. Despite the fact that Barack Obama did not changed anything fundamental about the corrupt American political system, he was willing to free Chelsea Manning. This brave woman was jailed for exposing the crimes of the U.S Military. She leaked sensitive military and diplomatic documents, which showed the true face of American imperialism around the world. One famous leaked video was that of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike, an airstrike which killed 12 innocent people. For being a whistle-blower, Chelsea was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Now Obama has commuted her sentence. She will be freed on parole in May 2017!
Chelsea was born as Bradley Edward Manning. As a transgender woman, Manning always felt trapped in a male body. Her family history was not positive. Her parents were not happy with her transgender feelings. In the year 2007, Manning’s father had pushed her into joining the U.S Army. There she would become a true man as many Americans see the army as a place were boys become men. Boot camp training was not a positive experience. Chelsea is a rather small person and she was bulled for this by other service men. She however learned to step up for herself and dared to fight back.
Manning was deployed to Forward Operating Base Hammer, near Baghdad in October 2009. As a ICT employee she worked with the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network. This network is holding many secret documents and media files on things the U.S Army does not want the American public to know. However in Iraq, Chelsea (Bradley) Manning was having a lot of gender problems. Back in 2009, the army was enforcing a policy called Don’t ask, don’t tell. The act prohibited any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or from speaking about any homosexual relationships, including marriages or other familial attributes, while serving in the United States armed forces!
By December 2009, Chelsea was having a lot of emotional problems. She started to neglect her military duties and when confronted she became hostile and very angry. By now some felt that her access to privileged information should have been withdrawn. But Chelsea remained at her workplace, because the army was lacking good ICT trained people. Manning said her first contact with WikiLeaks took place in January 2010. She knew this group from early 2009, when they leaked 570,000 government messages from the September 11 attacks. Because she knew what the army was hiding on their Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, Chelsea decided to become a whistle-blower for Wikileaks!
Her first leak were 400.000 documents from Iraq, which became known as the Iraq Logs. Later she downloaded over 91.000 documents about Afghanistan, these would be called the Afghan Logs. The secret information was smuggled out of the military by CD-ROM and SD cards. However Chelsea was not sure of Wikileaks was publishing her leaked logs. So she send them a diplomatic cable dated January 13, 2010, from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavík, Iceland. Wikileaks then published it, which was proof that they were aware of her leaking. One of the most famous video files leaked was that of a Baghdad helicopter attack in 2007. In that attack, Iraqi civilians and some journalists were killed by American Apache helicopters. Although some these men were armed, the destruction of a civilian bus with a child (who was also killed) showed the cruel nature of the American occupation forces in Iraq!
The downfall for Chelsea (Bradley) Manning came after she came in contact with Adrian Lamo, Colombian-American threat analyst and former hacker. He felt that Manning was putting American lives at risk by leaking these documents to Wikileaks. Although there is no evidence that any American soldier or spy was harmed because of the Wikileaks revelations, Lamo choose to betray Chelsea to the United States Army Counterintelligence. Manning was arrested by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division on May 27, 2010. She was transferred four days later to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. Trialed in the USA and sentenced to 35 years in jail on June 30, 2013!
In August 2013, after the end of her trial, Chelsea choose to abandon her male identity and embraced her female persona. Bradley Edward Manning became Chelsea Elizabeth Manning in prison. She hoped for hormone therapy and the right to live as a woman while confined. Despite the fact that Chelsea has the right to become a woman, the chauvinist U.S Army was not on her side. Even in 2014, the army had yet to approve her hormone therapy. Under pressure, the army did finally allowed psychotherapy, including psychotherapy specific to gender dysphoria; cross-sex hormone therapy; female undergarments and the ability to wear prescribed cosmetics in her daily life!
Revolutionary socialists defend Chelsea and other brave whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden. The fact that the USA sentenced her to 35 years behind bars, shows why Snowden cannot return to America. Because he would be arrested and jailed for a very long time. Both he and Manning have exposed the real mentality of the U.S Army. Which is a brutal imperialist force in service of the American capitalist class. On 20 January 2017, the establishment installs their billionaire president-elect: Donald Trump. He won the presidential elections on a populist agenda, defeating the neoliberal candidate of the Democratic Party. Trump however is not a enemy of the capitalist class, he is a member of this class and has already selected establishment Republicans for his cabinet!
In one of his last acts as president of the USA, Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Elizabeth Manning to seven years. This means that on 17 May 2017, she will be released from prison on parole. It is ironic that the man who disappointed so many Americans in his 8 years as president, has done a final good thing. Maybe because Obama wanted to be remembered for something more then just the being the first colored president. Still it does not hide the fact that it was the Obama administration that jailed Chelsea and is still hunting for Edward Snowden. Obama’s government has proven itself to have zero regards for privacy and brave people who expose crimes of the military!
Manning and Snowden are hero’s, who names should be remembered by all workers of the world. Chelsea’s time in prison had not done her good. She tried to kill herself twice and was put in a isolation cell for a long period of time. To fight against the injustice she even went on a hunger strike. After her release she needs the support from all people, who wish to stand against the evil that is American imperialism. No matter who runs the White House, the political system of the USA is very biased and linked to the interests of Wall Street and its billionaires like Trump!