Chelsea Manning Breaks Silence on Her Experiences

September 7, 2017 - By 

In 2010 Chelsea Manning was behind the biggest leak of classified records in the history of the United States. She leaked roughly 250,000 diplomatic cables and over 480,000 reports from the army regarding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She received a thirty-five-year-long sentence for her crimes.

After serving seven years, Manning received a commutation of her sentence from President Obama in January of 2017. Just four months later she was released from her sentence and was sent back into society.

During her imprisonment, she was barred from directly communicating with the public leaving her story to unravel in the public eye without the benefit of her input. That all changed with a week-long interview conducted by Matthew Shaerthat debuted in the New York Times Magazine on June 12th, 2017.

In this in-depth article Manning delves into her experiences as a trans women as well as the actions that placed her behind bars for over seven years.

She begins her story discussing her earliest realizations that she was a girl instead of a boy as well as being ostracized from other children and her family. She struggled through her youth and teenage years, focusing on basic coding and games throughout her formative years. This served as her foundation for her analytical skills while her father’s stories about the military eventually led her to enlist to find structure in her life.

After struggles in boot camp, Manning was assigned to intelligence school in 2008 where she fit in well. She was part of a team that helped to build a digital tool to track and sort Significant Acts that were occurring in Afghanistan. For hours she read reports and watched night-vision videos from the war on a distant battlefield that she was slated to join.

In 2009, she finally traveled into the battlefield although she was still kept from direct action. She continued to read through reports but as time went on she stopped seeing the conflict in terms of numbers and began to see the war as a futile bloody war with too many causalities on both sides. She struggled with her feelings regarding the war and whether she should leak information about what she thought was a fruitless war.

On February 3rd, Chelsea Manning sent information that she had illegally uploaded onto her personal computer to WikiLeaks. She continued to leak more documents until the end of May, where she was arrested by the Army Criminal Investigation Division to spend the next seven years in jail.

Her story continues on from here, with her leaks rippling throughout the world bringing change. To read the full story, visit The New York Times Magazine.

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