Bradley (Chelsea) Manning’s Statement

‘We have forgotten our humanity’
Bradley Manning


On Wednesday, Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Following the announcement of the sentence, the following statement from Manning was read at a press conference by his attorney David Coombs.

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based dissensions, it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy — the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps — to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard  Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Portrait of Pfc. Bradley Manning, by Robert Shetterly.

UPDATED 9:25 AM: Bradley Manning is now Chelsea Manning.
“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” Manning said in a statement read during an exclusive TODAY show interview with lawyer David Coombs. “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way I have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.”

While Fort Leavenworth, the prison where Manning will serve her sentence, does not offer hormone therapy, Coombs told host Savannah Guthrie he would fight to ensure his client received the medical treatment she needed. He also said he and Manning had not discussed sex reassignment surgery, and that getting her access to the needed hormones is his priority at this time.

Asked why Chelsea Manning had not made a statement about her gender before the trial was over, Coombs said, “She didn’t want this to be something that overshadowed the case.”

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday for the largest leak in U.S. history, a sentence that could set the tone of future prosecutions of those who leak classified information. The 25-year-old was convicted of 20 criminal counts, including espionage and disobeying orders, for providing 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Coombs and the defense team cited Manning’s struggle with shame and confusion over her gender identity as a mitigating factor during sentencing proceedings. Her identity as a trans-woman first became a topic of discussion in the case after chat logs with government informant and hacker Adrian Lamo featuring statements about gender were leaked to the public.

The defense introduced a photo Manning emailed to her supervisor, Master Sgt Paul Adkins, with the subject line “my problem.” It showed Manning in a blonde wig and wearing lipstick. Clinical Psychiatrist Michael Worsley, who treated Manning in Iraq, also testified about how the military’s “hypermasculine environment” and hostility towards LGBT soldiers could have contributed to Manning’s depression and sense of isolation
Dr. David Moulton, the forensic psychologist assigned to review Manning’s case, said that Manning was suffering from gender identity disorder, a diagnosis supported by a military sanity board.

The United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth responded to Manning’s announcement in a statement. “The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder.” Citing a policy of non-discrimination based on race, rank, ethnicity or sexual orientation – but not gender identity – the the USDB statement said that, “All inmates are considered soldiers and are treated as such with access to mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers and behavioral science noncommissioned officers with experience in addressing the needs of military personnel in pre- and post-trial confinement.”

Despite the challenges ahead for Chelsea Manning, “The ultimate goal is to be comfortable in her skin,” Coombs said.

Punjab Police Officials Detain, Rape and Torture A Minor in Pakistan

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) reports that a 17-year-old girl was abducted by police officials in Faisalabad, who ‘kept’ her for 16 days in ‘private custody’ to extract a murder confession. During that time, her elder sister was also brought into that personal ‘police lockup’ and held naked for three days ‘to pressure the sister to confess to the charges.’

‘On March 14, 2008, one Mr. Faisal son of Sakhawat attacked the house of Mr. Imran, son of Khalid Iqbal. During the exchange of fire Imran was shot and died on the spot. The deceased was the fiancee of victim and on the pursuance of the father the victim was arrested and suffered humiliation, abuse and rape to confess the murder of her own fiancee.’

In other words, two young men had a shooting match, probably over a woman, in which one of them died; the local police responded by arresting the fiance of the dead young man on suspicions of murder; and in order to extract a confession, ran a 16-day torture and sexual abuse campaign that involved everything in the book, and all that was not in it. For sure, Guantanamo Bay prison officials may have some rules to follow and someone to answer to but a private prison run by a Punjab police officer in rural or urban Punjab may not have either.

Labourer Manzoor Ahmad, father of the two victims/survivors, after many unsuccessful attempts to contact ‘higher police officials’ to register a case against the perpetrators, ‘filed an application on July 01, 2008, in the court of Mr. Nadeem Gulzar, the additional session judge, who ordered the police station of Nishatabad to register the case of rape in custody, illegal detention, torture and keeping naked in lockup. However, the district police refused to follow the orders of the session judge. On July 18, the police station filed the case against SI Investigations, Shujat Malhi, under section 376 of criminal procedural code (rape) but not on the other charges which were ordered by the session judge. Until now no one has been arrested and all the perpetrators continue in their duties as usual.’

The AHRC report also cites an earlier case involving the same SI Iinvestigations Shujat Malhi, where when a 21-year-old woman of Jaranwala District was raped by two persons who were arrested but this officer took bribes and then released them. It may sound ironic but he did first ask the woman survivor for the money but was refused.

Raise your voice against this ongoing aggression against women by Punjab Police officers:
Send An Appeal Letter

These are not isolated cases. View the Uddari Report on human rights violations in pakistan prepared from the last ten years of ‘Urgent Appeals’ section at AHCR. Countless instances of sexual violence against women in the Punjab are carried out by influential men of an area against the women, children and men of less privileged groups. The power-hungry men who try to disgrace women enjoy privileges that are economic, political, racial, religious and gender-based. These are local landholders, industrialist, religious leaders, government officials, police and army personnel. The ‘less-privileged’ groups include women, racial and religious minority communities, peasants, labourers, the homeless, and human rights and democracy activists.

Most acts of violence committed against women as individuals are being committed by influential men against women who are living in poverty in rural and urban Punjab; and, most crimes committed against women as a population group are committed by religiously-charged men of privileged and non-privileged groups who believe that it is their duty to gain control over womens’ sexuality by forcing them to follow a certain belief system. The truth is, I fail to find a notion more vulgar than this though forwarding the story of Adam and Eve as a serious creation theory comes close.

The AHRC suggests to send letters to Punjab authorities to take action against the police officials of Faisalabad; to urge the authorities to provide protection to women; and, to pay compensation to the victims. Sample letter is online at the AHRC Website, click below:
Send An Appeal Letter

Information pointed to by Baseer Naveed of Asian Human Rights Commission at [cmkp] Digest Number 1554