Chelsea Manning: Free at Last
by Stephen Lendman
Her long ordeal bears testimony to state-sponsored viciousness, deep emotional scars certain to remain longterm.
It's official. She's free following seven horrific years of brutal political imprisonment - for doing the right thing.
Arrested in April 2010, she was viciously treated, held in brutalizing pre-trial confinement for over three years before court proceedings began - a flagrant 8th Amendment violation, prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment for any reason.
On January 17, Obama commuted her sentence, effective May 17 - waiting nearly seven years to do the right thing instead of intervening right away responsibly.
At the time of her conviction and sentencing, including for five long ago outdated, 1917 WW I Espionage Act charges, Brennan Center for Justice Liberty and National Security Program co-director Elizabeth Goitein said:
"Manning is one of very few people ever charged under the Espionage Act (prosecuted) for leaks to the media. The only other person who was convicted after trial was pardoned."
"Despite the lack of any evidence that (she) intended any harm to the United States, Manning faces decades in prison. That's a very scary precedent."
Throughout its sordid history, fairness and justice were never US attributes - a rogue state harming so many worldwide for so long.
Manning is a courageous whistleblower, criminalized for exposing US wrongdoing, her show trial a travesty of justice. She should have been honored instead of sentenced to longterm imprisonment.
On July 30, 1778, the Continental Congress declared it the "duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other the inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by an officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge."
Precisely what Manning did, exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, important information Americans have a right to know, including:
• the Collateral Murder video, exposing the killing of unarmed Iraqi civilians by a US Apache helicopter crew;
• the Afghan War Diary, revealing uninvestigated civilian casualties and private military contractor abuses;
• the Iraq War Logs, revealing civilian casualties and uninvestigated reports of torture; along with
• US diplomatic cables, explaining corporate interests and espionage in international diplomacy.
Ahead of her freedom, Manning released a statement for the first time since her sentence was commuted, saying:
"For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea. I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world. Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine."
"Now, freedom is something that I will again experience with friends and loved ones after nearly seven years of bars and cement, of periods of solitary confinement, and of my health care and autonomy restricted, including through routinely forced haircuts."
"I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team and countless supporters."
"I watched the world change from inside prison walls and through the letters that I have received from veterans, trans young people, parents, politicians and artists."
"My spirits were lifted in dark times, reading of their support, sharing in their triumphs, and helping them through challenges of their own."
"I hope to take the lessons that I have learned, the love that I have been given, and the hope that I have to work toward making life better for others."
Manning's clemency and appellate attorneys Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward respectively explained she served the longest sentence in US history for whistleblowing - enduring draconian punishment for doing the right thing.
Chelsea Manning, free at last, her ruthlessly imposed ordeal ended - time for solace, healing and continued support from her legion of admirers worldwide.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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