The statements/letters/articles/interview etc reproduced in full on this page below the listed index (scroll down) have all been made since July 2013. We will continue to update this as an ongoing record.
1.Letter to Supporters on New Twitter Account 4th Apr ’15 (pub’d 16th Apr ’15) 2.Extracts From Interview Cosmopolitan US (pub’d Apr 2015) May ’15 edn 3.CIA torturers & leaders who approved must face the law (pub’d Guardian 9th Mar ’15) 4.I’m a Trans Woman & USG is Denying My Civil Rights (pub’d Guardian 8th Dec ’14) 5.A Message From Chelsea on #GivingTuesday (letter to supporters) 29th Nov ’14. 6.Interview with Amnesty Intl (The Wire online & AI Winter Mag -print) Nov ’14 7.How To make ISIS Fall on its Own Sword (pub’d in the Guardian) 16th Sept ’14 8.Statement on military ‘paying lip-service’ to her transition needs 22nd Aug ’14 9.The Fog Machine of War (pub’d in New York Times) 14th June ’14 10.Chelsea responds to Her Legal Name Change 23rd Apr ’14 11.Letter to supporters from prison 17th Mar ’14 12.Sam Adams Award Acceptance Speech 19th Feb ’14 13.On Thanksgiving Day in Time Magazine 25th Nov ’13 14.Letter to Obama after sentence 21st Aug ’13 15.The Next Stage of My Life after sentence 22nd Aug ’13 16.Apology given in court for any unintended ‘Hurt’ 14th Aug ’13
TEXTS OF ABOVE LISTED WRITINGS
1.Chelsea Writes a Letter to Supporters on Setting Up Twitter Account
(first pub’d 16th April 2015 on twitter)
I want to thank all of those of you who are now following my new Twitter account. (It was pretty amazing to get so many followers so quickly!) It’s only possible because of you all, out there, who care about the things and people that I do.
I wanted to set up this account awhile ago, but I didn’t really have the time or energy to until I began to start taking hormones a few months ago. So a few weeks ago I asked my friend Trevor Fitzgibbon if he would set up an account that I reserved in 2013, and he agreed to help for no cost.
This is a temporary arrangement until I can find a way to either access my account more easily, or find someone else willing to put in the labor of managing the account, like Courage to Resist or another volunteer.
The tweets, except for retweets, are verbatim dictated over the phone to someone that I can call from here in Kansas.
I think this arrangement is the best way for me to be able to stay in as much contact with all of you who are out there and wanting to help me and support me!
And, again, I want to thank all of you for your support and funding throughout my court-martial and now my appeal! We’re working very hard and I am hopeful that we can be successful if we can keep funding the Chelsea Manning Support Network’s Legal Defense Fund!
With Warm Regards, Chelsea Manning
P.S. #itsreallyme =P
2.Some Things Chelsea said in a Convo with Cosmo pub’d in May 2015 edn
On Her Feelings/Experiences Growing Up
“I loved being in my sister’s room. I really admired her and wore her clothes to play in, played with her dolls, played with her makeup,” she says. “She had a mirror with settings to see what you would look like in different lighting. I thought that was amazing.”
“I spent a lot of time denying the idea that I could be gay or trans to myself. From the ages of 14 to 16, I was mostly convinced that I was just going through ‘phases.’ I ran away mentally, especially at night with access to the Internet and the labyrinth of anonymous communications,” she says. “I don’t know how [this struggle] shaped my life and who I am, but it’s absolutely a factor in the decisions that I made before and including when I enlisted in the Army.”
Manning recalls secretly dressing as a girl starting when she was 5 or 6 years old in quiet moments in her older sister’s room. “I had always known that I was ‘different.’ I didn’t really understand it all until I got older,” she says. “But there was always this foreboding sense something was ‘wrong.’ I never knew how to talk about it. I just remember feeling terrified about what would happen if someone found out. It was a very lonely feeling.”
Bullies descended in grade school, she says. Manning was short and small, and kids called her “girly boy” and “faggy.” Her father’s advice, she says, “was to ‘man up,’ and if anyone gave me problems, ‘punch them in the face.'” This kind of advice led to “a lot of fights in school,” she recalls.
Manning later moved overseas to Wales with her mother, whose marriage had crumbled. She began high school and sought friends she could trust. “There were a lot of points where I would start to come out, face stern resistance and mockery from people I thought were my friends, and then reverse course. I was scared,” she says. “I don’t think I ever said ‘I’m gay’ or ‘I’m trans.’ It was more like, ‘Is it normal for guys to crossdress a lot?'”
She later moved in with an aunt near Washington, D.C., enrolling at Montgomery College. She worked 60 to 70 hours a week at two sales jobs to pay for it, she says, and the juggle became “insane.” Thoughts of living as a woman loomed. “But my schedule was hectic, and therapists cost a lot of money,” she says. “And even though I started seeing a psychologist with the specific intent of exploring my trans identity, I panicked and never brought up the subject with her. It was all exhausting me to the point I was turning to soda, cigarettes, and the Internet for an escape.”
On Life in The Army
A future in the military came into focus, urged on by her father. “I was following the coverage of the Iraq war and the ongoing ‘surge,'” she says. “I began to wonder if I could help out. Sure enough, I enlisted.” Another thought occurred too: Perhaps the macho environment would distract her from thoughts of living as a woman.
Basic training in Missouri in 2007 was rough. “I absolutely was caught off guard by the intensity,” she says. “There were points when I was humiliated pretty badly. One of the drill sergeants who inventoried my personal belongings made comments about my phone: It was pink. I didn’t think much about bringing it with me — I just liked it.
“One difficult night, she says, is “burned in my memory.” It came after a long day of marching with weapons loaded with blank rounds. “We arrived at a range where you low-crawl under razor wire,” she says. As she was crawling, she says, her weapon got stuck in semiautomatic-fire mode. She became frustrated and tried to force the switch back. “This was a stupid idea,” she says. “It went off.” The blast infuriated the tired recruits. The next night, “I was jumped by two of the guys who lived with me,” she says. “They turned off the lights and tried to push me into my wall locker so they could lock me inside of it. I fought back.” A sergeant came as Manning was ready to strike a blow, she says, and she was sent to a behavioural health clinic for “fits of rage.” She says she kept the locker incident to herself, and the guys “respected that and left me alone.”
She entered a happier phase, beginning a relationship with a student at Brandeis University. “I fell in love with him. He was not my first relationship, but he was certainly the most serious one,” she says. He was the first person Manning recalls telling about her desire to be a woman. Manning kept her relationship quiet at work, in line with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of the time. But in the lead-up to her deployment to Iraq, she says, supervisors began inquiring about her personal life. “I was getting frustrated because they were being nosy and they were digging in deeper because I was resisting their questions, for the sake of protecting my career,” she says. “It was a very high-stakes situation for me: I just wanted to deploy, do my job, and do it well. Hiding myself made this virtually impossible.”
On Iraq: A Turning Point re Identity
Iraq became a turning point emotionally. The experience “made me absolutely certain of who I am,” she says. “Dealing with reams and reams of emails, memos, and reports of people dying around me every day — to the point it becomes just a statistic to many people — made me realize just how short and precious our lives really are. I could’ve been killed at any moment too. We all can, really. So what better day to start being ourselves than today, right? Yeah, it sounds tacky, but it’s absolutely true. When I went on leave in January 2010, I was comfortable dressing as a woman in public. I wouldn’t have been able to do that before I deployed to a combat zone.”
Manning says it was “very much a relief” to announce that she is a woman after the sentencing. She didn’t fear the public response: “Honestly, I’m not terribly worried about what people out there might think of me. I just try to be myself.”
On Pre Trial Confinement
Manning spent three years behind bars awaiting trial. She says nine months of that time were spent in de facto solitary confinement at a military base in Virginia — no personal items allowed. “I had to ask for permission to use a toothbrush, toothpaste, and toilet paper, and when I was done, I had to give these items back,” she says. “I only got through it through humor. I just laughed at the entire situation. It became such a comical joke to me after a while. Unfortunately, you can’t reason with absurdity. It’s hard to lose your sanity when you’re living in such an insane situation.”
On Life in Fort Leavenworth Now
Today, Manning has her own cell with “two tall vertical windows that face the sun.” She can see “trees and hills and blue sky and all the things beyond the buildings and razor wire,” she says. “My mind barely acknowledges the buildings anymore.” She spends much of her time in the prison library, where she types up homework for a degree in political science. She works out in the gym and has a job in a woodworking shop, which she describes as “very fun, actually.”
She says she hasn’t faced harassment from inmates and has found some confidantes. “The guys here are adults … There are some very smart and sophisticated people in prisons all across America — I don’t think television and the media give them credit,” she says.
On Her Pain at the Suffering of the Trans* Community
She receives letters from transgender people around the world. “I am always flattered that they feel that I have inspired them in some way,” she says. “But honestly, I think it’s the other way around: They inspire me more than I think they might realize.”
Manning says she hasn’t seen Orange Is the New Black — there’s no Netflix in prison — but is aware that the show features a transgender woman living in a women’s jail. She notes that this scenario is unusual, because the vast majority of incarcerated transgender women are housed in male facilities. But the show is “spot-on,” she says, in featuring a transgender character with a history of stealing. Transgender people are “all too often disowned by families and basically left for dead on the street,” turning to petty crime, she says.
She says she was deeply moved by a letter she received from a transgender woman facing backlash from her family. “I cried, and couldn’t stop crying, after I read her story. I had to write her back, but I haven’t heard from her since,” she says. “I only need to look at the recent suicide note of Leelah Alcorn in Ohio to see that the desperation and tragedy I felt growing up is still around today.” Alcorn was a transgender teen who walked into oncoming traffic after posting a good-bye online. Says Manning, “I’ve drafted similar notes at tough times in my life.”
On What I Wanted To Be When I Was a Kid…..
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be in business or politics, like a CEO of a big corporation or a U.S. senator. There were also times I wanted to be an astronaut or a military officer,” she says. “Yes, there were moments when I thought about doing this as a woman. When you’re a kid dreaming, anything seems possible.” She thinks her life might have been much different if she had felt she could come out sooner. “I think a lot of opportunities would have come easier to me if I had felt more comfortable and confident in my own skin, and not terrified of the world around me.”
Read the full article in Cosmopolitan US here
3.The CIA’s torturers and the leaders who approved their actions must face the law. The Guardian 9th March 2015
Even the most junior level intelligence officers know that torture is both unethical and illegal. So why didn’t our political leaders?
Successful intelligence gathering through interrogation and other forms of human interaction by conventional means can be – and more often than not are – very successful. But, even though interrogation by less conventional methods might get glorified in popular culture – in television dramas like Law and Order: Criminal Intent, 24 and The Closer and movies like Zero Dark Thirty – torture and the mistreatment of detainees in the custody of intelligence personnel is, was and shall continue to be unethical and morally wrong. Under US law, torture and mistreatment of detainees is also very illegal.
Even the most junior level intelligence officials know that this is, and has been, the case for decades.
Yet, despite such knowledge, in response to the horrific attacks on the US in New York, Virginia and over Pennsylvania on 9/11, the US developed and applied techniques (now public knowledge due to the recent US Senate report commonly referred to as the Senate Torture Report) that sought to inflict severe mental pain and suffering, or the threat of pain and suffering, on detainees in the custody of the CIA and portions of the Department of Defense. These programs were administered by officers acting under the color of law.
According to numerous public reports, including the Senate Torture Report, these programs were authorized at the highest levels of government, and carried out in far-flung foreign places to avoid domestic detection and to muddy the issues of custody status and jurisdiction. This clearly shows a premeditated and intentional conspiracy to knowingly violate US law, and to avoid any oversight and criminal liability.
The actions by CIA officers – both the ones discussed in the Senate Torture Report and the ones that might have not yet come to light – have gravely damaged the credibility of the US intelligence community for decades to come. More worringly, they also may have prevented the US from being able to quickly and effectively prosecute the very terrorists who these officers sought to help fight against. This is evident by the unending stalemate in the military commissions taking place at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In my experience working as an intelligence analyst with my own pool of sources numbering close to 100, by far the most effective forms of human intelligence collection are rapport-building and direct questioning. As outrageously counter-intuitive as this might seem, the most hardened terrorists and criminals are often extremely willing to brag about the terrible things they’ve done, the unlikely places that they have been hiding, the important people that they know and deal with and the plans they have been working on for the future. Not only do these captured terrorists – even the hardened ones – sing, they often like to sing loudly and proudly. But, I am also wary of such embellishments.
And, even if detainees are not as cooperative, then the most legal coercive interrogation techniques often used by conventional law enforcement are just as effective against terrorists as they have been in typical murder and kidnapping investigations. Torture then – at least in my experience – has never been a part of the big picture of intelligence collection. It seems that smart and conventional methods are sufficient.
But regardless of whether these techniques were ineffective and counterproductive, the techniques outlined in the Senate torture report were far outside the boundaries of what is acceptable for the US intelligence community. Their supposed effectiveness is irrelevant to the fact that torture is wrong.
It is important to hold the officers, supervisors and, to a lesser extent, the politicians involved in creating and executing these programs, accountable. To let their horrific actions go unanswered would send an awful message to the world: it is wrong to torture and mistreat people, except when those doing it have the supposed blessing of the law and with the permission of high-ranking supervisors and politicians.
Even after internal reports by inspectors general and investigation by the criminal division of the US Department of Justice – a department that had a moral, ethical and more importantly legal obligation to investigate and charge the officers involved under criminal statutes – the government declined to commit itself to criminal charges against those who either committed or authorized acts of torture.
Now, even though the possibility of holding the officers, supervisors and politicians involved accountable before the US courts may be passing in America, this should not be the end of the road. For example, the German Code of Crimes against International Law allows for the prosecution of individuals and crimes outside the territory of Germany by the German Federal Public Prosecutor. Such charges are now being requested by the European Center of Constitutional and Human Rights – though, currently, they name select high ranking officials. If such charges are actually filed, the German government could request for the extradition of these officers for trial.
The extradition treaty between the US and Germany outlines the offenses under which the extradition can occur as: those that are “punishable under the laws” of both nations; those that are punishable by “deprivation of liberty for a maximum period exceeding one year”; and for “attempts to commit, conspiracy to commit, or participation in” such offenses. Torture is clearly defined as one of these offenses. And, while the treaty precludes extradition for offenses that are deemed as “a political offense”, it also excludes “murder or other wilful crime, punishable under the laws of both [nations] with a penalty of at least one year”. Torture, then, is not deemed a political offense.
However, while the treaty does not bind either nation to extradite its own citizens – making automatic extradition impossible – under the law, the US Secretary of State has the power to order the surrender of any US citizen whose extradition has been requested. I believe that if such a request should come before the Secretary of State, then he (or she) is morally and ethically obligated to grant it or risk further degrading the credibility of the US before the rest of the world and implicitly endorsing other countries that still use torture as a political weapon against their own citizens.
4.I am a Transgender Woman & the Government is Denying Me My Civil Rights. The Guardian. 8th Dec 2014
We are told, by the legal system and the military, that we don’t belong. It’s time for trans people like me to tell the world something different: we exist
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” reads the oft-quoted line from Martin Luther King.
I am a young trans woman. And I can attest to the “long” part, but I hope the bend toward justice will soon become more pronounced.
There’s a lot of unfinished business when it comes to protecting civil rights for many people. That fight is visible in every story about activists pushing for comprehensive US immigration reform. It’s obvious when protesters take to the streets after white police officers kill unarmed people of color and face few if any consequences, as in the recent cases of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson and Eric Garner’s death in New York.
The fight for justice for the transgender community is largely invisible to our fellow citizens, despite the rampant systematic discrimination of trans people – those whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that when it comes to issues affecting the trans community, most people who are cisgender – a word describing those people whose gender identity is in alignment with the sex they were assigned at birth – focus too much on the administrative, legal and medical aspects of trans identity. Such a focus on these institutional definitions of gender is constricting, and too often it leads to difficult obstacles for most trans people.
Take something as basic as obtaining photo identification. Many people need photo ID for their workplace. You need one to drive, you often need one to vote – especially with many US states passing disenfranchising “voter ID” laws.
For many in the trans community, just applying for basic identification documents is a hostile experience. You’re told you don’t belong because you don’t fit into one of the tiny boxes offered by the system. And for those of us in the military, this civil rights violation of trans people’s basic identity is downright life-threatening.
In the United States, the UK and most of Europe, there are only two options available for gender designation on government-issued identification documents: male and female. As a result, trans people are assumed to have a gender that aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth – that is, male for trans women and female for trans men – and those not conforming to either of those choices are assumed not to exist. So trans people are forced to either use a document that does not reflect their identity or to spend the time, effort and money necessary to alter such records. Both situations are frustrating, embarrassing and can expose us to humiliation, ridicule and even violence.
Despite bureaucratic assumptions, we exist.
The challenges that trans people are forced to navigate – even in accessing identification, but in so much more – are the result of institutional bias that favors cisgender people and assumes that trans people are deviant. When your own government’s policies send a message that you don’t exist – or that you shouldn’t – it’s devastating. Despite ample evidence that trans people have existed in most cultures throughout history, and the medical consensus that trans people can live healthy, productive lives, many governments continue to impose barriers on trans people that can make it almost impossible to survive.
I filed a petition to change my name in January of this year. Even with some assistance from counsel, the petition took nearly four months to draft and file before I ever made it to a hearing before the court. The hearing and filings were public, and I had to pay fees for filing and posting a legal notice in a local newspaper costing me nearly $500. And, despite making it clear that I identify as female, and having two military psychiatrists recommend support for my transition, legally changing my name has no effect on the “legal” gender status that the government imposes upon me.
Photo identification isn’t the only thing at stake for trans people. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in five trans people in the US have been denied housing because of their gender identity. One in 10 have been evicted because of it.
We’re banned from serving our country in the armed services unless we serve as trans people in secret, as I did.
Many trans people – especially low-income trans people of color – are also less likely to have access to legal counsel or healthcare because of discrimination. In situations like these, where civil rights are flaunted, the problem is not just inclusion or equal opportunities in institutions like government identification systems or voting – because such systems are inherently, if indirectly, biased to favor high income, straight, white, cisgender people. How can trans people change a system to which we don’t even have access?
A doctor, a judge or a piece of paper shouldn’t have the power to tell someone who he or she is. We should all have the absolute and inalienable right to define ourselves, in our own terms and in our own languages, and to be able to express our identity and perspectives without fear of consequences and retribution. We should all be able to live as human beings – and to be recognized as such by the societies we live in.
We shouldn’t have to keep defending our right to exist.
5. A Message From Chelsea #GivingTuesday 29th Nov 2014
November 29, 2014
First, I would like to thank you very much for your extraordinary contribution throughout my court-martial last year. Without your commitment, the truth might not have been nearly as visible to the public and many of the big issues that are touched on in my case would have gone unnoticed.
But now, in preparing for my appeal, I have worked with the Chelsea Manning Support Network to hire two great appellate attorneys, Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward of the law firm Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias and Ward.
Both Ms. Hollander and Mr. Ward have achieved some remarkable successes in complicated and high profile civil and criminal cases in the past, and have fought to protect our Constitution, civil liberties and social justice through their work at Guantanamo Bay, the Gulf Coast oil spill, and so many more cases. They have already begun the painstaking task of poring through the tens of thousands of pages produced at trial, and researching every possible angle of the case. Fortunately, they have already identified some major issues that provide a realistic chance of overturning convictions based on the “Espionage Act” and “Computer Fraud and Abuse Act” that could significantly reduce the sentence. However, I still need your contribution again to continue to fund their efforts at this critical stage in the case.
My case touches on so many important issues that affect most—if not all—Americans.
I hope that you can continue contributing to my fight for Justice. The actions that lead up to my trial were motivated by my conscience and concern for the public interest. But, there are still many things that I hope I can accomplish after my release from confinement—including advocacy for transparency in government, military, and civil life, and lobbying to ensure that reforms are made, and enforced.
I encourage you to write to me, and I am looking forward to reading your thought, opinions, and unique feedback. I hope that we can continue to fight together to curb the government’s overreach and change the course of history, for the better!
Chelsea E. Manning
6. Interview with Amnesty International Nov 2014. Wire (AI) Nov/Dec 2014
“It is absolutely amazing to have this kind of support. If I had the ability to write back to every single person who sends their words of support, I would.” Chelsea Manning – November 2014
AI Why did you decide to leak documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
CM These documents were important because they relate to two connected counter-insurgency conflicts in real-time from the ground. Humanity has never had a record this complete and detailed of what modern warfare actually looks like.
Once you realize that the coordinates represent a real place where people lived, that the dates happened in our recent history, that the numbers are actually human lives – with all the love, hope, dreams, hatred, fear and nightmares that come with them – then it’s difficult to ever forget how important these documents are.
AI What did you think the consequences might be for you personally?
CM In 2010, I was a lot younger. The consequences felt very vague. I expected the worst possible outcome but I didn’t have a strong sense of what that might entail.
But I expected to be demonized and have every moment of my life examined and analysed for every possible screw-up that I’ve ever made – every flaw and blemish – and to have them used against me in the court of public opinion. I was especially afraid that my gender identity would be used against me.
AI What was it like to feel the full force of the US justice system and be presented as a traitor?
CM It was particularly interesting to see the logistics involved in the prosecution: the stacks of money spent; the gallons of fuel burned; the reams of paper printed; the lengthy rolls of security personnel, lawyers and experts – it felt silly at times.
It felt especially silly being presented as a traitor by the officers who prosecuted my case. I saw them out of court for at least 100 days before and during the trial and developed a very good sense of who they were as people. I’m fairly certain that they got a good sense of who I am as a person, too. I remain convinced that even the advocates who presented the treason arguments did not believe their own words as they spoke them.
AI Many people think of you as a whistleblower. Why are whistleblowers important?
CM In an ideal world governments, corporations, and other large institutions would be transparent by default. Unfortunately, the world is not ideal. Many institutions begin a slow creep towards being opaque and we need people who recognize that.
I think the term ‘whistleblower’ has an overwhelmingly negative connotation in government and business, akin to ‘tattle-tale’ or ‘snitch’. This needs to be addressed somehow. Very often policies that supposedly protect such people are actually used to discredit them.
AI What would you say to somebody who is afraid to speak out against injustice?
CM First I would point out that life is precious. In Iraq in 2009 -10, life felt very cheap. It became overwhelming to see the sheer number of people suffering and dying, and the learned indifference to it by everybody around me, including the Iraqis themselves. That really changed my perspective on my life and made me realize that speaking out about injustices is worth the risk.
Second, in your life, you are rarely given the chance to really make a difference. Every now and then you do come across a significant choice. Do you really want to find yourself asking whether you could have done more 10 – 20 years later? These are the kind of questions I didn’t want to haunt me.
AI Why did you choose this particular artwork (see Alicia Neal image here) to represent you?
CM It’s the closest representation of what I might look like if I was allowed to present and express myself the way I see fit. Even after I came out as a trans woman in 2013, I have not been able to express myself as a woman in public. So I worked with Alicia Neal, an artist in California, to sketch a realistic portrait that more accurately represents who I am.
Unfortunately, with the current rules of military confinement facilities, it is very unlikely that I will have any photos taken until I am released – which, parole and clemency notwithstanding, might not be for another two decades.
7. How To Make ISIS Fall on its Own Sword. The Guardian. 16th Sept 2014
Degrade and destroy? The west should try to disrupt the canny militants into self-destruction, because bombs will only backfire.
The Islamic State (Isis) is without question a very brutal extremist group with origins in the insurgency of the United States occupation of Iraq. It has rapidly ascended to global attention by taking control of swaths of territory in western and northern Iraq, including Mosul and other major cities.
Based on my experience as an all-source analyst in Iraq during the organization’s relative infancy, Isis cannot be defeated by bombs and bullets – even as the fight is taken to Syria, even if it is conducted by non-Western forces with air support.
I believe that Isis is fueled precisely by the operational and tactical successes of European and American military force that would be – and have been – used to defeat them. I believe that Isis strategically feeds off the mistakes and vulnerabilities of the very democratic western states they decry. The Islamic State’s center of gravity is, in many ways, the United States, the United Kingdom and those aligned with them in the region.
When it comes to regional insurgency with global implications, Isis leaders are canny strategists. It’s clear to me that they have a solid and complete understanding of the strengths and, more importantly, the weaknesses of the west. They know how we tick in America and Europe – and they know what pushes us toward intervention and overreach. This understanding is particularly clear considering the Islamic State’s astonishing success in recruiting numbers of Americans, Britons, Belgians, Danes and other Europeans in their call to arms.
Attacking Isis directly, by air strikes or special operations forces, is a very tempting option available to policymakers, with immediate (but not always good) results. Unfortunately, when the west fights fire with fire, we feed into a cycle of outrage, recruitment, organizing and even more fighting that goes back decades. This is exactly what happened in Iraq during the height of a civil war in 2006 and 2007, and it can only be expected to occur again.
And avoiding direct action with Isis can be successful. For instance, in 2009 and 2010, forerunners to the Isis group attacked civilians in suicide and car bombings in downtown Baghdad to try and provoke American intervention and sectarian unrest. But they were often not effective in their recruiting efforts when American and Iraqi forces refused (or were unable) to respond, because the barbarity and brutality of their attacks worked against them. When we did respond, however, the attacks were sold to the Sunni minority in Iraq as a justified response to an occupying government favoring the Shia government led by former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Based on my intelligence work in Iraq during that period, I believe that only a very focused and consistent strategy of containment can be effective in reducing the growth and effectiveness of Isis as a threat. And so far, Western states seem to have adopted that strategy. With very public humanitarian disasters, however, like the ones on Mount Sinjarand Irbil in northern Iraq, and the beheadings of journalists James Foleyand Steven Sotloff, this discipline gets tested and can begin to fray.
As a strategy to disrupt the growth of Isis, I suggest focusing on four arenas:
- Counter the narrative in online Isis recruitment videos – including professionally made videos and amateur battle selfies – to avoid, as best as possible, the deliberate propaganda targeting of desperate and disaffected youth. This would rapidly prevent the recruitment of regional and western members.
- Set clear, temporary borders in the region, publicly. This would discourage Isis from taking certain territory where humanitarian crises might be created, or humanitarian efforts impeded.
- Establish an international moratorium on the payment of ransom for hostages, and work in the region to prevent Isis fromstealing and taxing historical artifacts and valuable treasures as sources of income, and especially from taking over the oil reserves and refineries in Bayji, Iraq. This would disrupt and prevent Isis from maintaining stable and reliable sources of income.
- Let Isis succeed in setting up a failed “state” – in a contained area and over a long enough period of time to prove itself unpopular and unable to govern. This might begin to discredit the leadership and ideology of Isis for good.
Eventually, if they are properly contained, I believe that Isis will not be able to sustain itself on rapid growth alone, and will begin to fracture internally. The organization will begin to disintegrate into several smaller, uncoordinated entities – ultimately failing in their objective of creating a strong state.
But the world just needs to be disciplined enough to let the Isis fire die out on its own, intervening carefully and avoiding the cyclic trap of “mission creep”. This is certainly a lot to ask for. But Isis is wielding a sharp, heavy and very deadly double-edged sword. Now just wait for them to fall on it.
8. On the military paying lip-service to her transition needs. 22nd Aug 2014Chelsea E Manning 89289 1300 North Warehouse Road Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 66027-2304 2014.08.22
Statement for Public Release
Subject: My Treatment Request – One Year On
This time last year I publicly asked that I be provided with a treatment plan to bring my body more in line with my gender identity. Unfortunately, despite silence, and then lip-service, the military has not yet provided me with any such treatment.
Treatment is, as a matter of law, about medical necessity. Such as treating depression or anxiety. But receiving treatment is very important to me as a person. It has a little bit to do with the perception of myself – the sense of unending discomfort with the gender that has been imposed on me – but not out of vanity.
However, prisons – and especially military prisons – reinforce and impose strong gender norms – making gender the most fundamental aspect of institutional life. The U.S. Disciplinary Barracks restricts my ability to express myself based on my gender identity.
For example, in my daily life, I am reminded of this when I look at the name on my badge, the first initial sewn into my clothing, the hair and grooming standards that I adhere to, and the titles and courtesies used bu the staff. Ultimately, I just want to feel comfortable in my own skin.
I also want to make it clear that my request is about how I am confined, not where. I have never requested for any transfer to a civilian or female facility. Prison is prison regardless of whether you are military or civilian and regardless of what gender you are.
Overall, the support I have received outside has been overwhelming – from cards an letters, to public statements of support. I am especially grateful for all the people who have respected my wishes, used the correct pronouns and titles when referring to me, and given me their best wishes and warm love and support. You have given me a deep well of hope and optimism to gather energy from.
With Warm Regards,
CHELSEA E. MANNING
9. The Fog Machine of War. New York Times. 14th June 2014
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — WHEN I chose to disclose classified information in 2010, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others. I’m now serving a sentence of 35 years in prison for these unauthorized disclosures. I understand that my actions violated the law.
However, the concerns that motivated me have not been resolved. As Iraq erupts in civil war and America again contemplates intervention, that unfinished business should give new urgency to the question of how the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan. I believe that the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance.
If you were following the news during the March 2010 elections in Iraq, you might remember that the American press was flooded with stories declaring the elections a success, complete with upbeat anecdotes and photographs of Iraqi women proudly displaying their ink-stained fingers. The subtext was that United States military operations had succeeded in creating a stable and democratic Iraq.
Those of us stationed there were acutely aware of a more complicated reality.
Military and diplomatic reports coming across my desk detailed a brutal crackdown against political dissidents by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and federal police, on behalf of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Detainees were often tortured, or even killed.
Early that year, I received orders to investigate 15 individuals whom the federal police had arrested on suspicion of printing “anti-Iraqi literature.” I learned that these individuals had absolutely no ties to terrorism; they were publishing a scholarly critique of Mr. Maliki’s administration. I forwarded this finding to the officer in command in eastern Baghdad. He responded that he didn’t need this information; instead, I should assist the federal police in locating more “anti-Iraqi” print shops.
I was shocked by our military’s complicity in the corruption of that election. Yet these deeply troubling details flew under the American media’s radar.
It was not the first (or the last) time I felt compelled to question the way we conducted our mission in Iraq. We intelligence analysts, and the officers to whom we reported, had access to a comprehensive overview of the war that few others had. How could top-level decision makers say that the American public, or even Congress, supported the conflict when they didn’t have half the story?
Among the many daily reports I received via email while working in Iraq in 2009 and 2010 was an internal public affairs briefing that listed recently published news articles about the American mission in Iraq. One of my regular tasks was to provide, for the public affairs summary read by the command in eastern Baghdad, a single-sentence description of each issue covered, complementing our analysis with local intelligence.
The more I made these daily comparisons between the news back in the States and the military and diplomatic reports available to me as an analyst, the more aware I became of the disparity. In contrast to the solid, nuanced briefings we created on the ground, the news available to the public was flooded with foggy speculation and simplifications.
One clue to this disjunction lay in the public affairs reports. Near the top of each briefing was the number of embedded journalists attached to American military units in a combat zone. Throughout my deployment, I never saw that tally go above 12. In other words, in all of Iraq, which contained 31 million people and 117,000 United States troops, no more than a dozen American journalists were covering military operations.
The process of limiting press access to a conflict begins when a reporter applies for embed status. All reporters are carefully vetted by military public affairs officials. This system is far from unbiased. Unsurprisingly, reporters who have established relationships with the military are more likely to be granted access.
Less well known is that journalists whom military contractors rate as likely to produce “favorable” coverage, based on their past reporting, also get preference. This outsourced “favorability” rating assigned to each applicant is used to screen out those judged likely to produce critical coverage.
Reporters who succeeded in obtaining embed status in Iraq were then required to sign a media “ground rules” agreement. Army public affairs officials said this was to protect operational security, but it also allowed them to terminate a reporter’s embed without appeal.
There have been numerous cases of reporters’ having their access terminated following controversial reporting. In 2010, the late Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings had his access pulled after reporting criticism of the Obama administration by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and his staff in Afghanistan. A Pentagon spokesman said, “Embeds are a privilege, not a right.”
If a reporter’s embed status is terminated, typically she or he is blacklisted. This program of limiting press access was challenged in court in 2013 by a freelance reporter, Wayne Anderson, who claimed to have followed his agreement but to have been terminated after publishing adverse reports about the conflict in Afghanistan. The ruling on his case upheld the military’s position that there was no constitutionally protected right to be an embedded journalist.
The embedded reporter program, which continues in Afghanistan and wherever the United States sends troops, is deeply informed by the military’s experience of how media coverage shifted public opinion during the Vietnam War. The gatekeepers in public affairs have too much power: Reporters naturally fear having their access terminated, so they tend to avoid controversial reporting that could raise red flags.
The existing program forces journalists to compete against one another for “special access” to vital matters of foreign and domestic policy. Too often, this creates reporting that flatters senior decision makers. A result is that the American public’s access to the facts is gutted, which leaves them with no way to evaluate the conduct of American officials.
Journalists have an important role to play in calling for reforms to the embedding system. The favorability of a journalist’s previous reporting should not be a factor. Transparency, guaranteed by a body not under the control of public affairs officials, should govern the credentialing process. An independent board made up of military staff members, veterans, Pentagon civilians and journalists could balance the public’s need for information with the military’s need for operational security.
Reporters should have timely access to information. The military could do far more to enable the rapid declassification of information that does not jeopardize military missions. The military’s Significant Activity Reports, for example, provide quick overviews of events like attacks and casualties. Often classified by default, these could help journalists report the facts accurately.
Opinion polls indicate that Americans’ confidence in their elected representatives is at a record low. Improving media access to this crucial aspect of our national life — where America has committed the men and women of its armed services — would be a powerful step toward re-establishing trust between voters and officials.
10. Chelsea Responds to Her Legal Name Change 23rd April 2014.
Today a Judge in Leavenworth District Court officially granted Chelsea’s name change petition
Today is an exciting day. A judge in the state of Kansas has officially ordered my name to be changed from “Bradley Edward Manning” to “Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.” I’ve been working for months for this change, and waiting for years.
It’s worth noting that in both mail and in-person, I’ve often been asked, “Why are you changing your name?” The answer couldn’t be simpler: because it’s a far better, richer, and more honest reflection of who I am and always have been –a woman named Chelsea.
But there is another question I’ve been asked nearly as much, “why are you making this request of the Leavenworth district court?” This is a more complicated question, but the short answer is simple: because I have to.
Unfortunately, the trans* community faces three major obstacles to living a normal life in America: identity documentation, gender segregated institutions, and access to healthcare. And I’ve only just jumped through the first one of these hurdles.
It’s the most banal things –such as showing an ID card, going to the bathroom, and receiving trans-related healthcare –that in our current society keep us from having the means to live better, more productive, and safer lives. Unfortunately, there are many laws and procedures that often don’t consider trans* people, or even outright prevent them from doing the sort of simple day-to-day things that others take for granted.
Now, I am waiting on the military to assist me in accessing healthcare. In August, I requested that the military provide me with a treatment plan consistent with the recognized professional standards of care for trans health. They quickly evaluated me and informed me that they came up with a proposed treatment plan. However, I have not seen yet seen their treatment plan, and in over eight months, I have not received any response as to whether the plan will be approved or disapproved, or whether it follows the guidelines of qualified health professionals.
I’m optimistic that things can –and certainly will –change for the better. There are so many people in America today that are willing and open to discuss trans-related issues. Hopefully today’s name change, while so meaningful to me personally, can also raise awareness of the fact that we trans* people exist everywhere in America today, and that we have must jump through hurdles every day just for being who we are. If I’m successful in obtaining access to trans healthcare, it will not only be something I have wanted for a long time myself, but it will also open the door for many people, both inside and outside the military, to request the right to live more open, fulfilled lives.
*Note: Chelsea prefers “Trans*” (with an asterisk) to denote not only transgender men and women, but also those who identify outside of a gender binary.
11. Letter to supporters from prison 17th March 2014
I would like to thank all of you for your support. Without your efforts–including organizing, fundraising, and public education–my court martial would not have been nearly as visible to the public, and many of the serious issues in my case would have gone unnoticed.
Currently I’m doing well. I spend most of my time working, but when I’m not working I’m either at the library doing legal research and drafting, reading books, magazines, newspapers, and your mail, or working out–running, calisthenics, and various cardio regimens.
I’m currently waiting for the Convening Authority of the Military District of Washington, Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, to act on my case–including my clemency request, filed by my trial attorney David Coombs. If Major General Buchanan denies my request and approves the findings of my court martial, my case will be reviewed by the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals next year.
In preparing for the appeals phase of my legal proceedings, I have worked with Courage to Resist and the Chelsea Manning Support Network to hire excellent civilian defense council, Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward of the law firm Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I’ve spoken a few times with both Ms. Hollander and Mr. Ward over the phone and I met them in person last month and I feel they are a perfect fit for doing this case, and we’re all excited about working together.
Both Ms. Hollander and Mr. Ward have achieved successes in complex, high profile, civil and criminal cases in the past, fighting to protect the U.S. Constitution, civil liberties, and social justice through work on Guantanamo, the Gulf Coast Oil Spill, and more. They are eager to represent me before the military court, federal court, and perhaps even the Supreme Court.
I hope that you will continue supporting my fight for justice. My case impacts important issues that affect many, if not all Americans. These include the rights of an accused not to be subjected to harsh and unnecessary pretrial punishment, the right to a speedy trial, the right to timely and complete access to relevant evidence held by the government, and the right to a public trial. Your support for my case going forward can even help to define the limits of power held by the military’s convening authorities, the Executive Branch, and the US Government.
Again, thank you for your overwhelming support thus far. I have stayed–and continued to be–optimistic throughout all of what has happened. I sincerely hope that we can continue working together to change history.
Salutations with warm regards,
CHELSEA E. MANNING
US Disciplinary Barracks
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
12. Sam Adams Award Acceptance Speech 19th Feb 2014
Statement read by Chelsea’s friend Aaron Kirkhouse as her acceptance speech for Sam Adams Award 2014 at Oxford Union on 19th Feb 2014. More info
For Public Release
Subject: Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence
The founders of America – fresh from a war of independence from King George lll – were particularly fearful of concentrating power. James Madison wrote that “the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”(1)
To address these concerns, the founders of America actively took steps when drafting the Constitution and ratifying a Bill of Rights-including protections echoing the Libertarianism of John Locke-to ensure that no person be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
More recently, though, since the rise of the national security apparatus – after a brief hiatus between the fall of the Soviet Union and the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center – the American government has been pursuing an unprecedented amount of secrecy and power consolidation in the Executive branch, under the President and the Cabinet.
When drafting Article III of the American Constitution, the founders were rather leery of accusations of treason, and accorded special protections for those accused of such a capital offense, providing that “[n]o person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”
For those of you familiar with the American Constitution, you may notice that this provision is under the Article concerning the Judiciary, Article III, and not the Legislative or Executive Articles, I and II respectively. And, historically, when the American government accuses an American of such crimes, it has prosecuted them in a federal criminal court.
In a recent Freedom of Information Act case (2) – a seemingly Orwellian “newspeak” name for a statute that actually exempts categories of documents from release to the public – a federal district court judge ruled against the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union. The Times and the ACLU argued that documents regarding the practice of “targeted killing” of American citizens, such as the radical Sunni cleric Anwar Nasser al-Aulaqi were in the public’s interest and were being withheld improperly.
The government first refused to acknowledge the existence of the documents, but later argued that their release could harm national security and were therefore exempt from disclosure. The court, however, felt constrained by the law and “conclud[ed] that the Government [had] not violated the FOIA by refusing to turn over the documents sought in the FOIA requests, and [could not] be compelled . . . to explain in detail the reasons why [the Government’s] actions do not violate the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
However, the judge also wrote candidly about her frustration with her sense that the request “implicate[d] serious issues about the limits on the power of the Executive Branch under the Constitution and laws of the United States,” and that the Presidential “Administration ha[d] engaged in public discussion of the legality of targeted killing, even of [American] citizens, but in cryptic and imprecise ways.” In other words, it wasn’t that she didn’t think that the public didn’t have a right to know – it was that she didn’t feel that she had the “legal” authority to compel disclosure.
This case, like too many others, presents a critical problem that can also be seen in several recent cases, including my court-martial. For instance, I was accused by the Executive branch, and particularly the Department of Defense, of aiding the enemy – a treasonable offense covered under Article III of the Constitution.
Granted, I received due process. I received charges, was arraigned before a military judge for trial, and eventually acquitted. But, the al-Aulaqi case raises a fundamental question: did the American government, and particularly the same President and Department, have the power to unilaterally determine my guilt of such an offense, and execute me at the will of the pilot of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle?
Until documents held by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel were released after significant political pressure in mid-2013, I could not tell you. And, very likely, I do not believe I could speak intelligently of the Administration’s policy on “targeted killing” today either.
There is a problem with this level of secrecy, obfuscation, and classification or protective marking, in that they supposedly protect citizens of their nation; yet, it also breeds a unilateralism that the founders feared, and deliberately tried to prevent when drafting the American Constitution. Now, we have a “disposition matrix,” classified military commissions, and foreign intelligence and surveillance courts – modern Star Chamber equivalents.
I am now accepting this award, through my friend, former school peer, and former small business partner, Aaron, for the release of a video and documents that “sparked a worldwide dialogue about the importance of government accountability for human rights abuses”. It is becoming increasingly clear to me that the dangers of withholding documents, legal interpretations, and court jurisprudence from the public that pertain to the right to “life, liberty, and property” of a state’s citizens is as fundamental and important to protecting against such human rights abuses.
When the public lacks the ability to access what its government is doing, it ceases to be involved in the governing process. There is a distinct difference between citizens, in which people are entitled to rights and privileges protected by and from the state, and subjects, in which people are placed under the absolute authority and control of the state. In essence, this is the difference between tyranny and freedom. To echo a maxim from Milton and Foes Friedman: a society that puts secrecy – in the sense of state secrecy – ahead of transparency and accountability will end up neither secure nor free.
CHELSEA E. MANNING
13. On Thanksgiving Day in Time Magazine 25th Nov 2013
I’m usually hesitant to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. After all, the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony systematically terrorized and slaughtered the very same Pequot tribe that assisted the first English refugees to arrive at Plymouth Rock. So, perhaps ironically, I’m thankful that I know that, and I’m also thankful that there are people who seek out, and usually find, such truths. I’m thankful for people who, even surrounded by millions of Americans eating turkey during regularly scheduled commercial breaks in the Green Bay and Detroit football game; who, despite having been taught, often as early as five and six years old, that the “helpful natives” selflessly assisted the “poor helpless Pilgrims” and lived happily ever after, dare to ask probing, even dangerous, questions.
Such people are often nameless and humble, yet no less courageous. Whether carpenters of welders; retail clerks or bank managers; artists or lawyers, they dare to ask tough questions, and seek out the truth, even when the answers they find might not be easy to live with.
I’m also grateful for having social and human justice pioneers who lead through action, and by example, as opposed to directing or commanding other people to take action. Often, the achievements of such people transcend political, cultural, and generational boundaries. Unfortunately, such remarkable people often risk their reputations, their livelihood, and, all too often, even their lives.
For instance, the man commonly known as Malcolm X began to openly embrace the idea, after an awakening during his travels to the Middle East and Africa, of an international and unifying effort to achieve equality, and was murdered after a tough, yearlong defection from the Nation of Islam. Martin Luther King Jr., after choosing to embrace the struggles of striking sanitation workers in Memphis over lobbying in Washington, D.C., was murdered by an escaped convict seeking fame and respect from white Southerners. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in the U.S., was murdered by a jealous former colleague. These are only examples; I wouldn’t dare to make a claim that they represent an exhaustive list of remarkable pioneers of social justice and equality—certainly many if not the vast majority are unsung and, sadly, forgotten.
So, this year, and every year, I’m thankful for such people, and I’m thankful that one day—perhaps not tomorrow—because of the accomplishments of such truth-seekers and human rights pioneers, we can live together on this tiny “pale blue dot” of a planet and stop looking inward, at each other, but rather outward, into the space beyond this planet and the future of all of humanity.
14. Letter to Obama 21st Aug 2013 (formally sent 3rd Sept)
Below is the full text of the letter from Chelsea Manning (sent: 3rd Sept) to President Obama requesting that she be granted a presidential pardon.
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.
15. ‘The Next Stage of My Life’ 22nd Aug 2013
Below is the full text of Chelsea’s letter to all of us ‘The Next Stage of My Life’
The Army private and WikiLeaks whistle-blower formerly known as Bradley Manning announced, in a statement via lawyer David Coombs, the decision to transition to life as a woman and a request to be referred to as Chelsea and with female pronouns. Her statement is below:
I want to thank everybody who has supported me over the last three years. Throughout this long ordeal, your letters of support and encouragement have helped keep me strong. I am forever indebted to those who wrote to me, made a donation to my defense fund, or came to watch a portion of the trial. I would especially like to thank Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network for their tireless efforts in raising awareness for my case and providing for my legal representation.
As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a 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). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.
Chelsea E. Manning
16. Apology in Court 14th Aug 2013
The following is the much misunderstood apology given as an unsworn statement on the last day of the sentencing case in the Court Martial. It repays a careful reading, noting the precision of what it actually says and also what it does not say.
First your Honor. I want to start off with an apology. I am sorry. I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I am sorry that it hurt the United States. At the time of my decisions, as you know, I was dealing with a lot of issues– issues that are ongoing and they are continuing to affect me.
Although they have caused me considerable difficulty in my life, these issues are not an excuse for my actions. I understood what I was doing and the decisions I made. However, I did not truly appreciate the broader effects of my actions. Those effects are clearer to me now through both self-reflection during my confinement in its various forms and through the merits and sentencing testimony that I have seen here.
I am sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions. When I made these decisions I believed I was gonna help people, not hurt people. The last few years have been a learning experience. I look back at my decisions and wonder, ‘How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?’
In retrospect I should have worked more aggressively inside the system as we discussed during the Providence Statement and had options and I should have used these options. Unfortunately, I can’t go back and change things. I can only go forward. i want to go forward. Before I can do that though, I understand that I must pay a price for my decisions and actions.
Once I pay that price, I hope to one day live in the manner I haven’t been able to in the past. I want to be a better person– to go to college– to get a degree– and to have a meaningful relationship with my sister’s family and my family.
I want to be a positive influence in their lives, just as my aunt Deborah has been to me. I have flaws and issues that I have to deal with, but I know that I can and will be a better person. I hope you can give me the opportunity to prove– not through words, but through conduct– that I am a good person, and that I can return to a productive place in society.