Manning's Courage Revealed the Problem of U.S. Empire
There's no question about it. I was not aware of the extent of the problem of U.S. imperialism until WikiLeaks' Cablegate blew the lid off the corrupt inner workings of the State Department.
Reading through so many Classified and Secret cables begins to paint a vivid picture of diplomatic relations that can never be portrayed in the old forms of media. The obsolete, consolidated, and worthless television programs, newspapers, and radio stations, that spent the entire time trying to cover up the story rather than break it. The propaganda machine. Revealed for all to see. It revealed its role in concealing a world in which U.S. foreign policy is deployed in support of backing the most repressive dictatorships, violating treaties, covering up torture, and committing war crimes. In which the cold, clinical, and calculating language of bureaucracy functions as a gentlemanly veneer for global warmaking in service of profit.
I would say the prestige of empire started wearing off for me right around that time.
And yet, the justice system of the same nation that can't stop talking about the Constitution, with its Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment, was busy subjecting the alleged source of the leak to prolonged solitary confinement, denied basic necessities, and forced to strip naked every night, prior to having been tried for or convicted of any crime.
It was only sustained, long-term activism and campaigning by grassroots and human rights groups that kept Chelsea Manning in the spotlight when powerful government forces were trying their best to silence her.
Though not a full pardon, it's an incredible victory that she is finally getting her sentence commuted, after already serving more time than anyone else for the offense of leaking to news organizations, and having become the most high-profile target of the Administration's unprecedented war on whistleblowers and journalists.
In the end, it took the courage of an army private-turned-whistleblower to provide the flashpoint of government transparency that changed the entire conversation, reminding us that the business of The State, is the business of The People. An act of courage that eventually sparked the war for free speech and the open internet that rages on. I spoke out in support of Manning for over 6 years. Because every fiber of my being tells me that the last thing a free country should tolerate is political prisoners.