Because the public deserves the truth and whistle-blowers deserve protection.
We are military veterans, journalists, educators, homemakers, lawyers, students, and citizens.
We ask you to consider the facts and free US Army Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning.
As an Intelligence Analyst stationed in Iraq, Chelsea Manning had access to some of America’s dirtiest secrets–crimes such as torture, illegal surveillance, and corruption—often committed in our name. Manning acted on conscience alone, with selfless courage and conviction, and gave these secrets to us, the public.
“I believed that if the general public had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy,” Manning explained to the military court. “I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan were targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare.”
Journalists used these documents to uncover many startling truths. We learned:
- Donald Rumsfeld and General Petraeus helped support torture in Iraq.
- Deliberate civilian killings by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan went unpunished.
- Thousands of civilian casualties were never acknowledged publicly.
- Most Guantanamo detainees were innocent.
For service on behalf of an informed democracy, Manning was sentenced by military judge Colonel Denise Lind to a devastating 35 years in prison. Government secrecy has grown exponentially during the past decade, but more secrecy does not make us safer when it fosters unaccountability.
Chelsea Manning was convicted of Espionage Act charges for providing WikiLeaks with this information, but the prosecutors noted that they would have done the same had the information been given to The New York Times. Prosecutors did not show that enemies used this information against the U.S., or that the releases resulted in any casualties.
Chelsea Manning has already been punished, even in violation of military law. She has been:
- Held in confinement since May 29, 2010.
- Subjected to illegal punishment amounting to torture for nearly nine months at Quantico Marine Base, Virginia, in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Article 13—facts confirmed by both the United Nation’s lead investigator on torture and military judge Col. Lind.
- Denied a speedy trial in violation of UCMJ, Article 10, having been imprisoned for over three years before trial.
- Denied anything resembling a fair trial when prosecutors were allowed to change the charge sheet to match evidence presented, and enter new evidence, after closing arguments.
Chelsea Manning believed you, Mr. President, when you came into office promising the most transparent administration in history, and that you would protect whistle-blowers. We urge you to start upholding those promises, beginning with this American prisoner of conscience.
We urge you to grant Chelsea Manning’s petition for a Presidential Pardon.