- 21 Aug 17
The Wikileaks whistleblower has, since her release from prison, refused to bow to bigots or so-called patriots.
The best of all the good things about Chelsea Manning, apart from Annie Leibovitz’s swooning swimsuit picture in Vogue, is that she takes no nonsense from transphobic patriots.
She’s the transgender activist and former intelligence analyst who was sentenced to 35 years for leaking thousands of documents exposing the involvement of the US military in a litany of war crimes in Iraq.
Released by Obama in the last week of his presidency, she emerged not at all cowed or contrite or humbly grateful, but feisty and strong and ready to butt heads with any bigot who dared peep over the parapet. Her Twitter feed (@xychelsea) is a terrific read, even if much of it is written in emoji, a language in which I am not yet fluent.
“This ugly whatever should be in prison forever.” “And yet here I am,” smiley face, rainbow, love-hearts.
“Vogue’s picture of Chelsea Manning in a bathing suit is repulsive. I don’t care about the transgender thing. Manning is a traitor, period.”
“Meh. That’s OK,” cynical face, smiley face with shades, rainbow.
“Bradley Manning (her former name) is a traitor.” “Whatevs,” amused face, children holding hands (?), rainbow.
“Bradley MANning, aka Chelsea MANning is disgusting. HIS wearing that bathing suit shows how screwed up HIS brain is.” “Somehow, I’m OK with this,” unicorn, askance face, rainbow etc.
Vogue picture caption with “she’s” changed to “he’s”, “herself” to “himself” etc. “Yawn. We don’t care,” eyes-rolled-to-heaven face. Ms. Manning had been serving at a Forward Operating Base in Iraq in 2009, with authorised access to classified reports. One of the items which most shocked her was a video showing a US helicopter gunning down a group of civilians, including a Reuters reporter. She passed the material to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after failing to place the story with the Washington Post or New York Times.
Soldiers could be heard on the video jeering at their victims as they crumpled into a heap.
“The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemingly delightful bloodlust of the aerial weapons team,” she said at her trial. “They dehumanised the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as ‘dead bastards’, and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers.”
She was sentenced to 35. They wandered off scot free.
I was going to say that in addition to everything else Ms. Manning is gorgeous, but that might be misconstrued as sexist or something or other. She is, though, and has put a lilt in the step of millions the world over.
Some of the mad things Donald Trump says and does appear in a different light if you imagine him not as an elected leader running a country but as the CEO of a global business.
Liberal commentators, particularly in the US, have been announcing at weekly intervals that the Donald has done it this time, gone too far. It was widely assumed that the liar-in-chief was facing his moment of truth with the publication of an email exchange from June last year between Donald Junior and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, described in the emails as a “Russian Government attorney.” The junior Donald was told that Putin’s regime could supply dirt on Hillary Clinton for use in the election campaign. “I love it!” Trump junior emailed back, and arranged to meet with Ms. Veselnitskaya.
Was this not proof positive of collusion between the Trump campaign and Putin? President Trump wasn’t bothered. Searching for material which might damage his opponent… what was the problem? “Anybody would have taken that meeting.”
And anybody would, if what was afoot was high-stakes competition between business rivals.
Ordering the chief of the FBI to back off from an investigation into a senior administration official? Obstruction of justice? Nah. Just the CEO watching the back of a loyal member of the board of directors. Trump might well have regarded this intervention as just the decent thing to do.
Company security arrangements he naturally leaves in the hands of the experts. Within a couple of days of taking office, Trump issued a decree giving commanders on the ground authority to order attacks on countries without seeking White House approval. “The president doesn’t claim to be a military expert,” explained soon-to-be-sacked Sean Spicer. This arrangement has been particularly significant in Yemen, where US Central Commander Gen. Joseph Votel has so far given the go-ahead for 9,000 air-strikes, 3,000 of which have destroyed targets such as markets, schools, weddings, hospitals, the usual hit-list.
Private Eye reports that, “The US… gives the names of Al Qaeda suspects to UAE-trained Yemeni forces, who reportedly question them Yemeni-style, with toasting on metal spits, before passing the information back.”
General Votel, we have to assume, doesn’t order torture. But the information extracted under torture informs his strategy, including selection of targets, intelligence from a man or woman being roasted over an open fire providing the basis for incinerating hundreds of others. But hey, that’s business. No CEO can be expected to micro-manage company security.
In the absence of democratic scrutiny, then, we must rely for the defence of human rights on women like Chelsea Manning, who, like Woody Guthrie’s Union Maid, has never been afraid of the goons and the ginks and the company finks.