Bradley Manning (the US soldier who gave info to Wikileaks) begs President Obama for pardon, also wants to become a woman

Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning was recently sentenced to 35 years in prison for sharing secretive government documents to Wikileaks. Spending 35 years in prison at 25 is not something that bodes well with Manning, which is probably the main reason behind his decision to send President Obama a letter to state his case for a full pardon.

During Manning’s sentencing, the letter was read by his defense attorney, David Coombs, which was captured in detail by the Associated Press. Read the full letter below, it’s a good read:

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 that (in) our efforts to meet the 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 out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order 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, and the Japanese-American internment camps – to mention a few. I am confident that many of the 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; I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent 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 a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Disjointedly, Manning issued a statement claiming he wants to spend the rest of his days as a woman, and thus should plan to begin hormone treatments very soon:

“I am Chelsea Manning. I am 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. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).”

You heard the man, no sorry, woman? This story has moved out of the realm of espionage into the world of the weird. Let’s hear your thoughts on the matter at hand — we have a comments section for that.

[via Today,  AP, image via Guardian]

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  • Seamus McSeamus

    [@Vamien McKalin]

    I said that exact thing to my wife when she told me about this — this was an attempt to serve his time with women rather than men.

    [@New Moon]

    The government we have in the USA doesn’t value free speech, liberty, freedom of the press or anything else that made this country great. They value spying, secrecy, lying, drone strikes and anything else that can drag us down.

  • kevbo

    Taking his circumstances into account, I also question his motives.

  • LeslieMay

    It is strange but not weird. It is the female side of him that would want justice for the innocent. I do believe that power corrupts and that absolute power as in the hands of the military, corrupts absolutely.

  • New Moon

    If you conceive that you can’t avoid committing crimes, war crimes, thievery, tyranny, cover ups, spins, etc., some way down in your life, you should join them as they will cover it up for you. On the other hand, if you do carry out or speak out these crimes without joining them, as a freedom loving individual, they will lock you up. This is it folks, when he said, “You’re either with us or not!”

    BM’s crime is just pointing you out of your unflushed toilet! nothing more. and you’re putting him in prison for 35 years?! What an irony; even country like Burma is releasing all of its political prisoners! It’s really is a big shame for a country like America that values free speech, freedom, individual rights, equal rights, etc.

    For BM’s desire to become a woman, tho it’s weird, I don’t blame him, he doesn’t look like a manly solder anyway in the first place. His maternal/female instinct inside him probably triggered him to do what he did.

  • Vamien McKalin

    [@Mikerman] Nothing of the sort. It’s weird because right out of the blue he wants to become a woman? It makes no sense, unless he hopes becoming a woman would force the Army to lock him up with women so he wouldn’t have to come face to face with a prison filled with men who might want to harm him.

  • Ashraf

    [@Mikerman] I don’t know about anyone else but I agree with Vamien. A convicted leaker that has been sentenced to 35 years in prison publicly announces his desire to become a woman? That qualifies as a bit weird, and that has nothing to do with bias or bigotry.

  • Mikerman

    “This story has moved out of the realm of espionage into the world of the weird.”

    With the greatest of respect, let’s keep tolerance in mind. Yes, the story has taken a turn. Hopefully, though, the author, here, isn’t referring to the sex reassignment request.