Chelsea Manning Files Presidential Pardon Request
Build-up to war on Syria highlights critical role of whistleblowers in democracy, says author
Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning's legal team filed her request for a presidential pardon on Tuesday.
Manning was sentenced late last month to 35 years for releasing a trove of government and military documents to WikiLeaks. Immediately after the sentencing, Manning's legal team announced that they would be proceeding with an appeal for a presidential pardon or, at the very least, a commutation of the sentence by President Obama.
In a statement read by attorney David Coombs on the day of her sentencing, Manning said
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.
Much media coverage this week has been on the build-up to possible war on Syria, but Manning's plight is not unconnected, as Norman Solomon writes. In his op-ed "What the Assault on Whistleblowers Has to Do With War on Syria," Solomon explains how "without whistleblowers" like Manning, "the mainline media outlets are more transfixed than ever with telling the official story. And at a time like this, the official story is all about spinning for war on Syria." Solomon continued:
The vengeful treatment of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, the all-out effort to grab Edward Snowden and less-publicized prosecutions such as the vendetta against NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake are all part of a government strategy that aims to shut down unauthorized pipelines of information to journalists—and therefore to the public. When secret information is blocked, what’s left is the official story, pulling out all the stops for war. [...]
Every time a president has decided to go to war against yet another country, the momentum has been unstoppable. Today, the craven foreshadow the dead. The key problems, as usual, revolve around undue deference to authority—obedience in the interests of expediency—resulting in a huge loss of lives and a tremendous waste of resources that should be going to sustain human life instead of destroying it. [...]
As a practical matter, real journalism can’t function without whistleblowers. Democracy can’t function without real journalism. And we can’t stop the warfare state without democracy. In the long run, the struggles for peace and democracy are one and the same.