Chelsea Manning reminds us that media share the consequences of her leaks

In an article published in today’s Guardian the jailed whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning reminded us that the media outlets that collaborated in the publishing of intelligence she leaked were, according to the US Government via its representatives at her pre-trial hearing, equally responsible for the consequences of those leaks. Ipso facto, if the Guardian and the New York Times were not prosecuted, then neither should she have been. Further, there is a moral implication: namely, that those media outlets that benefited, financially and otherwise, from the leaks have a duty to assist Manning in every way possible. One very practical way in which these media outlets – particularly newspapers – can do this is to contribute funds to Manning’s legal appeal and to provide a free full-page advertisement for an appeal for a pardon to President Obama (see link at end of this article). So, let’s see what Chelsea said…

Here are some quotes from the article:

“…when I was court-martialed for providing government documents and information that I felt were in the public interest to a media organization, the government charged me with “aiding the enemy” – a treason-related offense under the US constitution and military justice system that even civilians may be charged with. During one of my pre-trial hearings in January 2013, the military judge in my case, US Army Colonel Denise Lind, asked the government lawyers: “Does it make any difference – if we substituted Wikileaks for The New York Times: would the government still be charging this case in the manner that it has and proceeding as you’re doing?” An assistant trial counsel for the government answered a straightforward “Yes, Ma’am”…”

The point is that the New York Times was not prosecuted. Manning was. The trial was a farce.

Manning added…

“The government further argued that there was no distinction to be made between any media organizations that provided information to the public, if the government felt that would “aid” the enemy: whether such information was published by a small-time blog, a controversial website like Wikileaks, a national newspaper like the Washington Post, or an international one like the Guardian, to the government, they can all be “aiding the enemy”.”

The Government accused the Guardian and other media outlets of ‘aiding the enemy’. But, despite demands that the charge of ‘aiding the enemy’ be dropped, the judge was determined to proceed on this count. In the end Manning was not convicted of the charge, which, ironically, was probably a relief to the Government as it was not only an absurd charge to make in the first place, but had Manning been found guilty of it then the USG would, logically, have to prosecute those media outlets that published the leaks too. That wasn’t going to happen.

Manning’s article is also a reminder of some of the many flaws in the prosecution’s case. The article further reminds us of the moral obligation we all have in Manning’s fate in that we shared in the revelations; also, that millions of people around the world are still benefiting from the consequences of those revelations.

In the article Manning also raises the problems the media and their sources face generally to avoid snooping. (Clearly these problems will not lessen until media and journalists incorporate and utilise the latest anti-surveillance technologies on a routine basis.)

Chelsea Manning has many, many friends from all walks of life, all over the world, campaigning on her behalf. They – we – are determined not to be doing this in 30 years time, or 20 years time, or even 7 years time. We want to see Chelsea liberated much sooner than that. However, if she isn’t liberated that soon, then she should know that we will support her as long as it takes.

In the meantime Chelsea needs to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Currently she works as an occasional commentator for a newspaper, The Guardian. She writes from her prison cell. Her new, unpaid, job will set her on a new road – as a writer/journalist with a worldwide audience. She is in a unique position to comment on many intelligence matters. So when she does leave prison – as a result of her legal appeal, or a presidential pardon, or because she is allowed out on parole – she will, if she chooses, have that work to fall back on. Clearly, it would be an enormous help if the newspaper she currently writes for – or perhaps a US newspaper, or another suitable media outlet (e.g. The Intercept, The Dissenter, etc) –  publicly offers her, at some stage a full time-time position. They all owe it to her.

As well as the campaign to seek a Presidential pardon for Manning there is a legal appeal against Manning’s conviction (and sentence). For more on the appeal process, click here. You can also send donations for the legal appeal via the Chelsea Manning Support Network:

See also: Chelsea Manning: media and ‘celebrities’ pivotal to legal appeal/funds and pardon

 

 

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