On April 4, 2010, whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks published a classified video of a United States Apache helicopter firing on civilians in New Baghdad in 2007. In late July 2010, the U.S. Military alleged that Manning was the chief suspect in the “Afghan Diaries” leak of U.S. Military combat and incident reports from the occupation of Afghanistan. The Afghan Diaries is the largest collection of leaked intelligence records in U.S. history, and details what Wikileaks and others have described as “countless war crimes” by U.S. and NATO forces. On August 21, 2013, Pvt. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. However, just before leaving office in January 2017, President Obama commuted Chelsea's sentence.
The trial of military whistle-blower and democracy advocate Chelsea Manning (known as Bradley Manning until her Aug 22, 2013 announcement) finished on August 21st of 2013. Prosecution starkly showcased US government officials’ misplaced priorities when it comes to human rights. This case sets a dangerous precedent for the first amendment, opening whistle-blowers and those who help them to extreme prosecution. However, as we enter the appeals process, Chelsea Manning’s story is far from over.
The information that Manning gave to the public exposed the unjust detainment of innocent people at Guantanamo Bay, shown us the true human cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and changed journalism forever. There is no evidence that anyone died as a result of the leaked information. Through WikiLeaks, Manning revealed:
- the Collateral Murder video that exposed the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq
- the Afghan War Diary that revealed uninvestigated civilian casualties and contractor abuse
- the Iraq War Logs that revealed civilian casualties, and uninvestigated reports of torture
- the US diplomatic cables that revealed the role that corporate interests and spying play in international diplomacy