Chelsea Manning was a US Army soldier who released to WikiLeaks Iraq and Afghan war logs, with information on torture and civilian killings, including an airstrike that killed two Reuters correspondents; and diplomatic cables revealing, among other things, a secret deal between the US and Yemen in which the US would bomb the country, and the Yemeni government would claim the attacks. For Manning, these were acts that shocked the conscience, and that US citizens, in whose names they were claimed, should know about. She hoped the release to the media and the public via WikiLeaks would spark “worldwide discussion, debates and reforms.”
The military sought a court martial and a life sentence, claiming her disclosure “aided the enemy”; she was eventually sentenced by a military judge to 35 years, but her sentence was commuted by Barack Obama after she had served seven years—still the longest time anyone has served for disclosing classified information to the media. It’s generally understood that Obama recognized that it wasn’t possible to charge WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, via Manning, without exposing journalists at the New York Times or the Washington Post to prosecution for sharing the same information—not to mention collecting prizes for it.
Manning has recently been subpoenaed by a grand jury, widely understood to be attempting a case against Assange, though as a grand jury it’s all very secretive, and asked to testify again about her 2010 public disclosures. She refused, citing the very secretiveness of the process, and noting that she had already testified fully about the reasons for her disclosures, that they were her choices alone, and not solicited by Assange or anyone else. A judge then ordered her incarcerated until she agrees to testify or until the jury is done, which might be 18 months.
But Manning isn’t just in…