Chelsea Manning: A Stain On The Obama Administration

chelsea manning

It must be a proud moment when young people make the important decision to forgo civilian life and dedicate themselves to the service of the country. As the commercial slogan from my childhood  goes — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines  — what a great place, what a great place to start.

If young soldiers really want to leave a lasting legacy, forget serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s not about placing your life on the line for this great Nation and displaying courage in the face of evil.

This is a new era of military service where the Obama administration sent Susan Rice out to say that a deserter and coward, Bowe Bergdahl, “served with honor and distinction.”

So kids — maybe you should enlist, be convicted of espionage, get sentenced to 35 years in prison for betraying your country, decide to have gender reassignment surgery, have hard working tax payers flip the bill and then have your sentence commuted by the President of the United States. Wow, what a country!

That may be harsh but that’s exactly how Chelsea Manning walked free on May 17, 2017.

Chelsea Manning, born Bradley Manning, enlisted in the Army in 2007 and quickly realized her slight 5′ 2″ frame wasn’t conducive to military life. It was also evident that her mental instability from a rough childhood, her suicide attempt at age 12 and her confusing sexual identity weren’t suitable for barracks life either.

The Army discharged her 6 weeks after reporting for basic training. That’s right — the military felt she wasn’t fit for duty.

In a strange turn of events, which have never been explained, the military decided to take her back. That’s right, from “not fit for duty” to “welcome back.” Let’s see — suicidal, sexually confused, and mentally unstable? Let’s give her gun and allow her to have access to military secrets as an Intelligence Analyst!

I wonder if our growing PC climate had anything to do with her reinstatement?

Let’s break down the timeline of events.

–Manning is deployed to Iraq in 2009

–She becomes aware of Julian Assange’s Wikileaks website and begins a dialogue with them in January of 2010.

–In Februrary, 2010, Manning downloaded roughly 700,000 documents from her computer onto a disk labeled, “Lady Gaga.”  Yes, you read that correctly — Lady Gaga. She took the disk with her to the U.S. on a scheduled leave.

— In February, 2010, Manning contacted The Washington Post and The New York Times, but neither outlet seemed interested. Maybe Manning should have written “Donald Trump” on the disk. Yes, I know, he wasn’t in public office at the time but NBC leaked his “Access Hollywood” tape from 2005.

— In late February, 2010, Manning sent the documents to Wikileaks unaware if they ever received them. Nothing like forwarding thousands of classified documents and not knowing if it went to the correct email. You have to hate when that happens. Maybe she should have had a private server in some random bathroom. Apparently, it’s much easier to “handle” classified documents that way.

— In February 2010, Manning returned to Iraq without ever knowing if the documents she leaked were going to be published or taken seriously.

— In May 2010, Manning was arrested in Iraq for dispensing the classified documents to Wikileaks that ended up being published in The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel.

— In June 2013, Chelsea’s court martial trial began. She was initially charged with “aiding the enemy.”  That devastating charge was a form of treason and punishable by death.

— In July 2013, Manning was convicted on 17 counts of espionage but to her relief — was acquitted of “aiding the enemy.” The death penalty was off the table.

— In August 2013, she was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Yes, I know. That should be the end of the story and her harsh sentence could set a strong precedence for anyone thinking about committing treason or espionage in the future.

Soon after she was sentenced, Chelsea publicly announced she was transgender and would be seeking hormone therapy as part of her transition during incarceration. Obviously the military wasn’t in the business of supervising a sex change. They denied her request. The, “what a great place to start” slogan obviously didn’t refer to military gender transitions. The nerve, right?

Manning decided to fight and attorneys happily worked on her behalf. That was Obama’s military so — she won and became the first inmate in history to receive hormone therapy while incarcerated in a military prison. I wonder if she received a special gender reassignment participation trophy for this feat?

While you complain about paying high taxes and wonder how you’re going to be able to afford your health insurance premiums — know that your tax dollars were hard at work turning Bradley into Chelsea.

The sensitive information Manning leaked threatened the lives of military men and women around the world. The betrayal gave our enemies ample information including names and locations of foreign agents working on behalf of U. S. interests.  Those documents included battlefield reports and U.S. embassy cables.

In fact, it was so bad that Obama administration officials scrambled to minimize any potential harm. They immediately dispatched foreign agents and personnel who might have been compromised and targeted as helping American interests, troops and/or diplomats.

“Manning stabbed his fellow soldiers in the back by releasing classified information and putting their lives at risk,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Fast forward to President Obama’s last few days in office.

Manning’s attorneys argued that she should be released because she confessed, apologized and feels really bad about it. Did you hear that death row inmates? Just show remorse and apologize.

Bowing to the pressures from every LGBTQ organization in the country and after watching videos from celebrities — yes, that’s right, as if videos from celebrities asking for leniency would work — oh, wait.

On January 17, 2017, President Obama announced he would commute all but four months of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. She would be released on May 17, 2017 after spending 7 years in prison.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA.) issued a stern statement, “Private Manning betrayed the United States by providing classified national security information to WikiLeaks. In leaking sensitive government documents, Private Manning jeopardized both the safety of Americans deployed overseas and the security of the United States. These treasonous actions warrant a full prison term, not a shorter sentence.”

Chelsea Manning, not to be confused with Chelsea Handler — even though the resemblance is uncanny — is a free woman.

Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward, Manning’s clemency and appellate lawyers, issued a joint statement yesterday:

“We are able to confirm that Chelsea Manning has been released safely from military prison. Thank you to everyone for ensuring her safe release and respecting her privacy as she starts to adjust to life outside of prison.”

You want us to respect her privacy? You mean the way she respected the privacy of the men and women she put in jeopardy when she revealed their names in classified leaks?

As if that wasn’t enough to upset you — Manning will still be considered active (unpaid) duty in the Army. That’s right, even after being convicted of espionage, she will be eligible to receive all of her medical benefits and pension. Basically, the tax payers will fund the completion of her gender reassignment surgeries.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that when you’re convicted of espionage and get sentenced to 35 years in prison — your military benefits and compensation should be revoked. Period. If there needs to be guidelines or legislation to make this a reality — we should make sure they’re implemented.

The Washington Blade in August, 2016, conducted a poll of the House Armed Services Committee members to see if any of them supported open trans military service.

Representatives Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)), Scott Peters (D-CA) and Niki Tsongas (D-MA) were the only members who support openly transgender military service.

What’s the true irony of this story? The same MSM news outlets — CNN, MSNBC & ABC  — calling for Trump’s impeachment for ‘possibly’ disclosing classified information; are the same networks celebrating Manning’s release for — wait for it — ‘purposely’ distributing classified information.

According to Democrats and some Republicans, Trump’s reveal to the Russians the other day possibly put lives around the world at risk and the other, Manning — was proven to jeopardize lives around the world. You see the huge difference? One is perceived to be a bigot, racist and xenophobe — the other is….a transgender soldier?

If Trump wants a pass from the left and move forward from these ‘unprecedented’ scandals — he should put on a dress, apply makeup and announce that he’s having gender reassignment surgery. He’d be labeled a hero.

I personally could care less if someone transitions from one sex to the other. It’s not my business and as long as I don’t have to pay for it — more power to you. Although, the treatments and surgeries shouldn’t be the burden of tax payers. People should take responsibility for your own choices.

ACLU staff attorney, Chase Strangio, set up a Gofundme page so Manning supporters could donate money to help her as she transitions from prison.

“Leaving prison is not going to be easy and Chelsea is going to have to face the collateral consequences of her convictions and the effects of all that she endured in prison,” Strangio said. “Resources are essential for her if she is going to have a chance to live safely and freely.”

It’s a free country and if someone wants to raise money for Manning — more power to them. But, if Chelsea Manning wants more Americans to be accepting — have these same supporters donate funds to not only cover her transition from prison but her transition from a man to a woman. Cover the tax burden of her gender reassignment surgeries and medical expenses. Why should we pay for it?

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About the Author

Scott D. Roberts

Scott D. Roberts is the writer, producer and co-director of the award-winning documentary, Gas Hole, narrated by Peter Gallagher & is the author of VENGEANCE IS NOW (The Tate Holloway series.) He’s had screenplays and TV shows optioned/developed by Warner Brothers, Paramount, New Line, EUE/Screen Gems and Columbia. He can be reached at scottd@halseynews.com for questions and comments or found on Twitter @braint10