6 September 2013

Sentenced to 35 Years

Free Chelsea Manning!

Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning was sentenced by a military judge at the end of her court martial on August 21 to 35 years in prison with a dishonorable discharge for giving more than 700,000 classified military documents, diplomatic cables and war footage to WikiLeaks. After over three years of pretrial detention, which included torture in solitary confinement, she has been demoted and is now incarcerated in the military’s maximum-security prison at Leavenworth undergoing “the indoctrination process,” according to Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, during which all contact with the outside world is cut off. The persecution of Manning is a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s campaign against whistle-blowers and significantly its first conviction under the 1917 Espionage Act. It serves as a warning of what the government has in store for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and Edward Snowden for publicizing details of U.S. war atrocities and massive routine domestic spying.

In a statement to Obama requesting a presidential pardon, Manning referenced the crimes of U.S. imperialism in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo, and continued: “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.” Manning released the classified documents in order to expose inhumanity and torture. In so doing, Manning performed a service to the working class internationally in helping lift the veil on U.S. imperialist barbarity.

The next day, Manning issued another brave statement: “I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.” Despite court rulings that have upheld transgender prisoners’ constitutional rights to receive hormone therapy, the Army immediately announced that none would be forthcoming for Manning in the all-male Leavenworth penitentiary. Coombs said that he will “do everything in my power” to make sure the Army provides quality care and medication, a fight that the Spartacist League and the Partisan Defense Committee fully support.

Initially, most of the U.S. media refused to accept Manning’s clear request that she be referred to by her name Chelsea and the female pronoun. Since then, the New York Times, NPR and others have changed their policy to conform to Manning’s wishes. The abiding prudery of some bourgeois news outlets is but the “polite” end of the spectrum of hatred faced by transgender people in this bigoted, brutal capitalist society, where transgenders are frequently targets of violent, sometimes murderous, attack.

To help alleviate the isolation of imprisonment, write to Chelsea Manning. For now, the envelope should be addressed to PVT Bradley Manning, 89289, 1300 N. Warehouse Road, Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304. The Partisan Defense Committee has donated to Chelsea Manning’s defense and encourages others to do the same. Send checks or money orders earmarked “Manning defense” and payable to: The Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Avenue #41, Oakland, CA 94610.

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1029, 6 September 2013)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.