Our Kind of Traitor
Barack Obama has given Chelsea Manning something close to a presidential pardon.
WASHINGTON — President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.
The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to kill herself last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the men’s military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.
The act of clemency could be seen as a reversal, at least in part, of the Obama administration’s unprecedented criminal crackdown on leaking: The administration has brought charges in about nine cases, about twice as many as under all previous presidents combined.
Was Chelsea Manning a traitor? Of course, she was. But we live in traitorous times.
Rightists get triggered by traitors. Rightly so. Add to this Manning’s sexual fluidity, and she . . . or he . . . or whatever . . . fits the bill as the ultimate right-wing punching bag: disloyal, perverted, un-American, etc.
We shouldn’t forget a few things, however.
Manning was heroically brave. She risked her life to oppose and expose a system she viewed as evil; she was ruthless enough to go through with a covert operation; she achieved success and willingly paid the price.
The system Manning opposed hates us, or rather it views us as material to be absorbed into global American mono-culture. Manning thus contributed to the de-legitimization of the American empire, just as she was a symptom of it.
The empire has created many victims and botched souls . . . sons sent home in bodybags or in dresses.
Manning was a victim who chose to fight back. That’s what we should remember.
I’m over this whole saga that is/was Bradley Manning. Lock him up for 35 years. No parole, no more news coverage.
— deray mckesson (@deray) August 22, 2013