The attorneys of Chelsea Manning, a transgender soldier responsible for revealing classified information through WikiLeaks, confirmed that she was hospitalized last week after an attempted suicide.
The announcement was made via email. There were no major details revealed about the suicide attempt, which took place on July 5. According to the attorneys, it was a “gross breach of confidentiality” that the Army had revealed that Manning was hospitalized. Manning is under close observation for the following weeks. According to her attorneys, she would have liked to keep her medical information private and focus on her recovery.
Chelsea Manning’s confinement
28-year-old Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison due to violations of the Espionage Act, among other charges. She leaked at least one million of classified military documents. Manning was dishonorably discharged and she is eligible for parole starting in 2021.
When she was sentenced, Manning appealed the case. Her argument was that, at the time, she was a young soldier wanting to reveal the truth of the U.S. military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. She claims that the information she revealed did not harm anyone nor cause any major damage to the U.S. military. Prosecutors think otherwise, as the leaked material was a major breach of the U.S. intelligence security system and the documents contained names of undercover informants.
Manning started to work as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army in Iraq around 2009, which allowed her to access classified files. She leaked hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks and was arrested after an online acquaintance, who was aware of the leak, informed the Army of the crime. Among Manning’s offenses, she was charged with “aiding the enemy,” one of the most serious charges in the U.S. justice system.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) July 6, 2016
The best of Manning’s leaks
One of the most critical files that Manning leaked was a video of an Apache helicopter firing upon a group of people which included journalists from Reuters. Prosecutors argued that militants could gain information about U.S. military maneuvers by watching the video.
There is also the case of the infamous “War Logs,” which hold account of large numbers of civilian casualties in U.S.-led campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to the prosecutors, a copy of the Afghanistan war logs was found in Osama Bin Laden’s hideout when he was killed.
Manning also revealed documents describing how Guantanamo prisoners were treated, but most of the leaked information was already public knowledge.
WikiLeaks & Cablegate
But perhaps the most important series of documents that Chelsea Manning made public through WikiLeaks were those related to the State Department cables. The incident was known as Cablegate. A diplomatic cable is a confidential text message exchanged between embassies, consulates and related missions and its parent country. Cablegate is the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain.
Initially, after Manning’s arrest, there was concern among U.S. intelligence officials regarding whether Manning had leaked diplomatic cables.
One month later, The Guardian had been offered hundreds of thousands of confidential files, including diplomatic cables. WikiLeaks then announced that the cable leaks would surpass seven times the size of the Iraq War Logs.
Regarding the leaks, Julian Assange proposed that the U.S. points out the names of the individuals that would be put at risk of harm due to the leak of the diplomatic cables.
The Department of State did not comply, to which Assange responded, “You have chosen to respond in a manner which leads me to conclude that the supposed risks are entirely fanciful and you are instead concerned to suppress evidence of human rights abuse and other criminal behavior”
One of the cables revealed that diplomats of the U.S. and Britain had eavesdropped on former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan just before the invasion of Iraq of 2003, thus violating international treaties that forbid espionage in the United Nations.
WikiLeaks released the cables through important newspapers such as The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde and Der Spiegel. On December, internet hosting services stopped providing services to WikiLeaks. Amazon removed the domain from its servers, which forced it to go back to its original servers. Paypal shut down WikiLeaks’ account to receive donations, Asset’s financial assets were frozen on his customary Swedish bank, and MasterCard and Visa ceased to direct payments concerning WikiLeaks.
— Chelsea Manning (@xychelsea) July 11, 2016
Even Twitter received a subpoena from the U.S. government, ordering to reveal information about WikiLeaks, Assange, Manning and other whistleblowers. The U.S. government asked for usernames, email addresses, residential addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, billing records, and IP addresses.
Perhaps Manning’s actions did not “harm” anyone, but they unleashed a series of events that led the U.S. administration to take extreme measures to protect its integrity and position as one of the world’s most powerful countries.