Chelsea Manning, an intelligence analyst with the United States Army, has had the remainder of her thirty-five-year sentence commuted by President Obama today.
Manning was originally scheduled to remain incarcerated until the year 2045 for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks in 2010 including evidence of detainee abuse by Iraqi military officers working with American forces and the infamous video dubbed “Collateral Murder” by Wikileaks which showed two Apache attack helicopters shooting several persons the military believed at the time to be Iraqi insurgents.
Two Reuters reporters died in the attack as well as a number of Iraqi civilians.
The sentence Manning received from a U.S. military court was historically harsh given the level of classified documents that were leaked. According to the New York Times, most leakers receive no more than three to five years in prison for similar crimes. Manning has been under lock and key for seven years.
None of the materials leaked were above the “Secret” level and while Manning also leaked a large number of American diplomatic emails (circa 250,000), no evidence that the leaks harmed any American was ever proven. Manning stated that she leaked the diplomatic cables because she believed they illustrated corrupt back dealing by world governments as well as the reality of modern warfare which the American public, she believed, had not been exposed to.
Manning was originally reported to authorities by a hacker she had become close with named “Lamo”. Logs published by Wired magazine in 2011 reveal Manning to have been struggling with gender identity as well as a number of other issues during her deployment to Iraq. The below log sample is a conversation between “Lamo” and Manning who went by the moniker “bradass87.”
The full logs can be read here.
Additionally, below is the video dubbed “Collateral Murder” by Wikileaks which shocked the conscience of the American public when it was originally revealed in 2010. The events in the video itself took place in 2007.
At Manning’s trial, a defense psychiatrist testifying on Manning’s behalf stated the following as to Manning’s motives in leaking the information.
Well, Pfc Manning was under the impression that his leaked information was going to really change how the world views the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and future wars, actually. This was an attempt to crowdsource an analysis of the war, and it was his opinion that if … through crowdsourcing, enough analysis was done on these documents, which he felt to be very important, that it would lead to a greater good … that society as a whole would come to the conclusion that the war wasn’t worth it … that really no wars are worth it.
Manning will be freed on May 17th, 2017.