A LETTER AND THREE STATEMENTS FROM CHELSEA
Pvt Manning Support Network have published a letter and three statements from Chelsea after they requested direct clarification of her position re the letter she sent to The Guardian earlier this month.
In the new letter, received yesterday, Chelsea has this to say on her principles and motivation:
I happen to agree with David’s (Coombs’) statement that I was “motivated in my actions not only by [my] transparency beliefs, but also by [my] deep concern for the value of human life.”
These are not mutually exclusive values; rather I see my concern for human life as providing a solid foundation to my dedication to transparency.
I also agree with the PMSN “that [my] actions in 2010 intersect crucially not only with issues of information transparency but also with a critical discussion about US wars and foreign policy”.
However I would personally extend this further and broaden this intersection of transparency and the value of human life with those of a need for equality and respect for all people regardless of:
skin complexion, eye color, or hair color; who your parents are; the geographic location you or your parents were born; what you believe or don’t believe; what gender you were assigned or identify as; who you are physically and emotionally attracted to; what job you have or how much money your family makes; whether you’re incarcerated or formerly incarcerated, or your physical and intellectual ability……more here and see other links at the end of this post.
According to a post (following Chelsea’s letter published in the Guardian) on David Coombs’ blog, the letter arose from a misunderstanding and Chelsea’s understandable confusion of events, whilst feeling
…isolated and out of touch with the outside world during the indoctrination period at the United States Disciplinary Barracks
after what she herself refers to as ‘a lengthy and exhausting Court Martial process’
Receiving new correspondence about the Sean MacBride Peace Prize which she was awarded back in July, Chelsea, who had in fact been kept fully in the loop about this award by David Coombs, her lawyer, (bearing in mind that this would probably have been at the most tense and preoccupying time during the trial) assumed that this was a new prize she had not been informed about. And that the public thus had the wrong impression if they thought she had responded to it because the acceptance speech offered on her behalf indicated this. And that on top of this she was concerned if people were arriving at the incorrect conclusion that she was a pacifist and this was the primary motivation for her actions. Because, as David Coombs reiterates:
Chelsea has never claimed to be anti-war; indeed she joined the military to defend her country.
One attribute demonstrated consistently by Chelsea that we have witnessed in both her private statements (ie the chat logs that were of course made public but that she had not the slightest idea would be) and her public statements; in her impressive appearances in court on the few occasions she testified, and which is also evidenced by her actions in releasing the information, is a respect for the truth, honesty. The refreshing thing about the whole defence strategy was the total absence of the cynicism and dissembling displayed by the prosecution; it was persistently, rigorously truthful, as befits a case in which truth itself is on trial.
picture by Clark Stoeckley ‘official’ court artist
So it’s not altogether surprising, given Chelsea’s evident love of clarity and desire to be straightforward, that she would panic about the public gaining a false impression about her. In the ‘Guardian letter‘ she says:
I simply don’t know what’s happened here. I absolutely don’t believe there’s a conspiracy or any bad intentions on anyone’s part. But whatever has happened I don’t believe it’s productive.
And I believe it would be totally dishonest if I don’t make the public aware of this disconnection.
She draws attention to her belief (clearly expressed in her statement given to the court in which she explained and took responsibility for her actions) that
the public cannot decide what actions and policies are or are not justified if they don’t even know the most rudimentary details about them and their effects.
Now it’s obvious from plenty of other statements that Chelsea strongly disagreed with what she was seeing and felt a powerful sense of responsibility to challenge it, but it’s also clear that she believed that the information was wrongly classified and that this was fundamental to the problem, and correspondingly that greater transparency was fundamental to the solution. In her statement made to the court on 28th February she says:
I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.
I once read a and used a quote on open diplomacy written after the First World War and how the world would be a better place if states would avoid making secret pacts and deals with and against each other. I thought these cables were a prime example of a need for a more open diplomacy…
I also began to think the documented backdoor deals and seemingly criminal activity didn’t seem characteristic of the de facto leader of the free world.
She makes it clear that the duplicity in many of the situations is especially reprehensible; the lies to Reuters about the ‘disappearance’ of what we now know as the Collateral Murder video in which their employee died; the lying press reports about the video etc. Obviously then Chelsea is an advocate of greater transparency, as she stresses in the letter.
A DEEP CONCERN FOR THE VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE
But David Coombs expands on the unnecessarily polarising ‘pacifist vs transparency advocate’ issue by pointing out how central her empathy with people and her humanism are:
However she is a humanist and was motivated in her actions not only by her transparency beliefs, but also by deep concern for the value of human life.
In her original letter, Chelsea said that as a result of what she perceived to be a disconnect she would, in future, respond personally to all similar issues. David Coombs said in his blog post that he had pointed out to her the inherent difficulties with this and that she was reconsidering.
THE NEW STATEMENTS NOW OFFER FURTHER CLARIFICATION
The letter and enclosures dated 28th October from Chelsea to Private Manning Support Network now address all these issues and give us further clarification directly from Chelsea herself.
As we have come to expect the documents are comprehensive and clear, addressing respectively –
Amongst other things, Chelsea apologises for any appearance of her ‘undercutting’ PMSN or Ann Wright, or ‘putting any blemish on the significance of the Sean MacBride prize award’; confirms that the clarifying information in David Coombs’ post is correct; she clarifies that she is altering the statement she previously made regarding authorised communications, saying that Coombs is authorised by her to make ‘official public statements on all matters that need to be dealt with immediately’, tells us ‘I absolutely trust him [David Coombs] as both my attorney and a close friend’ and explains what is within Coombs’ remit and lists what’s happening with that.
Oh, and she signs the letter with a heart for the dot of the i in Manning…aww!
And you can now see that signature at pic.twitter.com/wHcSfBCUHi
DON’T FORGET THE MANNING FAMILY FUND RAISERS THIS W/E!