Banning Chelsea Manning: The Dubious Tests of Character

National security advocates have been crotchety ever since the release of Chelsea Manning for a sentence they hoped would go the full, crushing 35 years.  Her sins were intimately tied up with making WikiLeaks the publisher of fame, less than fortune: the disclosure of 750,000 classified diplomatic and military documents which revealed, to various degrees, the inner workings of the US military industrial complex.  But a moment of enlightenment prevailed, and President Barack Obama deemed her case suitable for commutation in one of his last executive acts.

While the idea of a celebrity whistleblower is rife with problems (the stereotype is usually that of an insecure, inconspicuous figure, a persecuted shrinking violet), Manning has managed to become one since her release in May 2017.  Identity politics has been grafted upon the political necessaries of exposing injustices and atrocities.  Data security has been paired with transgender politics.

In Australia, joined (even chained?) to the hip of the US imperium, not all are revelling in Manning, the spiller of secrets big and small.  The simple conclusion they reach is that she should be barred from entering the country.  She was a military intelligence analyst gone bad, and for those reasons, should be treated as such.  “Despite the media breathlessly describing Manning as a whistleblower,” penned a sceptical Rodger Shanahan of the Lowy Institute, “she is far from that.  In fact, if she thought she…

Read more