And if Chelsea Manning Wasn’t a Transgender Cause Celebre?

NYT: Obama Commutes Bulk of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence.

From a 35-year sentence, commuted to time served (7 years) for one of the largest breaches of diplomatic and military secrecy in American history—including thousands of classified State Department cables—carried out by an army intelligence analyst.

I just hope her sentence wasn’t reduced because she’s transgender and her cause was taken up, very vocally, by transgender and LGBT activists (perish the thought!).


A pertinent comment left at the above tweet: “Dems ok with leaking military secrets but not DNC secrets.”

More. During his December 2011 pretrial hearing, the New York Daily News reported of the defendant then known as Bradley Manning:

…his lawyers argued his status as a gay soldier before the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” played an important role in his actions.

Lawyers for Pfc. Bradley Manning began laying out a defense to show that his struggles in an environment hostile to homosexuality contributed to mental and emotional problems that should have barred him from having access to sensitive material.

The paper also reported that “The Obama administration says the released information has threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America’s relations with other governments.”

While her supporters celebrate, a press release from the Log Cabin Republicans says:

Log Cabin Republicans has always condemned Manning’s actions, and consistently stood against efforts by the left to elevate Manning as a paragon of the LGBT community.

“Chelsea Manning is no hero, and the commutation of her sentence is appalling,” Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo stated. “Manning was not imprisoned for being transgender — in fact, the government agreed to accommodate and facilitate her transition during her well-deserved sentence; she was imprisoned for traitorous clandestine activity that put military lives at risk. Her actions — and President Obama’s clemency — are nothing to celebrate.”

Furthermore. James Kirchick writes Bradley Manning is No Gay Hero:

For centuries, gay people have served with distinction and honor in the armed forces, and it is the service of these countless veterans whom today’s gays can thank for the freedom to serve openly. Bradley Manning’s actions are fodder to those who have long argued that homosexuality naturally leads to treason; some on the far right have argued that his actions were intended as “revenge” over the military’s then-enforced anti-gay policy. It is unconscionable that gay activists, of all people, would play into these slanders.

Still more. A “potent symbol for transgender Americans.” Chase Strangio, Manning’s ACLU attorney, said that “Her story really does reflect so much of the systemic discrimination that transgender people face,” adding “She’s an incredibly thoughtful and devoted person,” and that “She’s felt a sense of responsibility to the transgender community and wanted to be someone who contributed to the fight for transgender justice.”

To which the Washington Times editorialized: “No one doubts Chelsea Manning’s feelings of ‘responsibility to the transgender community.’ It’s a pity she felt no such responsibility to her country, and to the men and women who were assigned to the battlefield to defend that country with their very lives.”

40 Comments for “And if Chelsea Manning Wasn’t a Transgender Cause Celebre?”

  1. posted by Houndentenor on

    Her sentence was commuted but she wasn’t pardoned. She still has a criminal record. Her treatment in prison has been cruel and it’s been enough.

    Reply
    • posted by TJ on

      I didnt look at her or Snowden as heroes. Most of people who have held them up as heroes, in my experience, has been Libertarians, especially the Paul Ryan Republicans.

      Reply
      • posted by Houndentenor on

        I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Much of what has been leaked wasn’t worth whatever effort it took to get it. Did we really need to read anyone’s recipes? Some should have been redacted like private phone numbers. The only reason to publish that is to encourage harassment. Some of it did endanger people in war zones and people should be punished for that. But a great deal of what was embarrassing wasn’t classified and even more shouldn’t have been. For about 35 years now our government has been overzealous in classifying just about everything and they do that not to protect national security but to protect themselves. Citizens have a right to know what their government is doing on their behalf. Yes, some things need to be secret but not most of what is classified and certainly not for as long as current law allows.

        Reply
  2. posted by Jorge on

    And if Chelsea Manning Wasn’t a Transgender Cause Celebre?

    I cannot come closer to your impression of the political winds on this one. That includes the past article.

    Since the Wikileaks question has is rife with hypocrisy recently, and I have not said much to oppose it, I don’t think I have much choice but to accept this decision without dissent.

    And Secretary of Defense nominee Mattis had a conversation with the Armed Services Committee about re-examining less than honorable discharges of servicemembers who may have had posttraumatic stress disorder play a role in their circumstances in a way that was not appreciated at the time. This is an issue that strikes a chord with me, and I don’t like to limit it to PTSD. I read too many stories of other rotten stuff that happens to people’s minds in the military and I think we should try to give people the benefit of the doubt somewhere.

    Here there are claims that the then-Bradley Manning was mentally ill while he was in the service, and not in small part because of triggers from his service itself. I would like to see there be some investigation and accounting for claims of this nature in the military. In this case, it probably wasn’t difficult to find such evidence, given that Manning was put on suicide watch during the trial.

    My only source of concern is that from what I heard, the application for a pardon alleged that Manning’s actions didn’t actually hurt anyone. I hope that wasn’t from her hand. I would like to see some evidence of remorse on her part.

    Reply
  3. posted by Lori Heine on

    Then there’s the fact that if people didn’t leak what was going on in our government, We the People simply wouldn’t know about it.

    Screw Log Cabin’s official statement. Chelsea Manning is a hero. As is Edward Snowden. As is Julian Assange.

    If Log Cabin is going to grovel to government power–regardless of what it does to us, or to those in other countries to whom we do grave harm–then Log Cabin is totally irrelevant to that or any other discussion.

    Reply
  4. posted by Kosh III on

    Log Cabin IS irrelevant except in DC cocktail party circuits. They sure don’t do anything helpful for gay people in GOP-run states.

    Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Log Cabin IS irrelevant except in DC cocktail party circuits. They sure don’t do anything helpful for gay people in GOP-run states.

      Yeah, pretty much.

      But LCR-Washington does throw great day-after MAGA accessorized business attire cocktail parties for those too old and/or too conventional to make the DeploraBall.

      Tain’t much, maybe, but tain’t nothing, neither.

      Reply
  5. posted by Kosh III on

    Meanwhile, out in the rest of the country where LCR could help but won’t:

    https://www.outandaboutnashville.com/story/new-bill-wants-tennesseans-pretend-our

    “A bill has been filed in the Tennessee Legislature that would restrict the terms “husband,” “wife,” “mother,” and “father” from use regarding those in same-sex marriages.”

    Last year this bill passed allowing counselors to refuse to help people based on personal feelings–not just religious bias
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tennessee-lgbt-counseling_us_570c4c4de4b0836057a23d63

    And this year a bill is pending which would forbid counselors from using national ethics guidelines instead the legislature would write the guidelines which would of course allow for discrimination
    http://wmot.org/post/legislative-agenda-tenn-counseling-assoc-oppose-bill

    So much for how the GOP will “get over it.”

    Reply
  6. posted by wilberforce on

    I don’t know enough about the issue to pass judgement on these whistle blowers.
    I can hear both arguments. Indeed, people who think Snowden is a hero seem hopelessly unaware. We’ve known the feds were spying on us for years. Hello. Hollywood made a movie about it.
    And I haven’t seen any info in these leaks that the public needs to know. But again, the issue is complex, and there’s no way to get the info needed from a corrupt media and self-serving advocacy groups.

    Reply
    • posted by Lori Heine on

      “Hopelessly unaware” of what? That there are potential bad consequences to whistles being blown?

      Of course I’m aware of that. The option greatly to be preferred would be that we rise up and take responsibility for what our government does — in our name — all over the world and even at home, to our fellow citizens.

      Pardon me, but people who bumble along with clueless generalizations about those bad consequences, or about how complicated it all is, without any appreciation of the situation are the ones who are hopelessly unaware.

      Why MUST a person become a criminal, and quite possibly a fugitive from the law, for informing us about what our own government is doing? And if it is engaged in nefarious activities–things that would land us in prison if we did them–is it not to be expected that some of its little minions (people like Snowden and Manning) might eventually find their consciences overburdened and leak them?

      By all means, let’s debate who’s “hopelessly unaware” and who isn’t. I would love nothing better.

      Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      Indeed, people who think Snowden is a hero seem hopelessly unaware.

      Someone remind me of what we learned from any of them.

      That US soldiers kill lots of civilians from heartless flying machines?

      That soldiers celebrate kills like winning points in a video game?

      That our military works clandestinely with local civilians in contested territory?

      That our diplomats say mean things behind our allies’ backs?

      That we spy on our allies?

      That the FBI collects information over the cell phone lines without warrants in the name of the War on Terror?

      That everyone in the government considers all of this legitimate and legal?

      All this we knew, and more importantly we had representatives in Congress to look over the shoulders of our government.

      Why MUST a person become a criminal, and quite possibly a fugitive from the law, for informing us about what our own government is doing?

      Because what our public does not have a right to speak in the public square is the United States’s official opinion of how to successfully carry out a military attack or defense against our own country.

      That means no facts that can be used to form such an opinion, like when, how often, and what the FBI taps that can be used to form an opinion that the best way to defend against cyberwarfare against terrorists is to not use cell phones.

      That means no names, descriptions, or alibi of foreign nationals who comprise our military’s physically vulnerable intelligence supply line.

      No dates or times of quotations of foreign diplomats that are not already part of joint conferences, for that reveals how to avoid our spies. And countries that successfully avoid our spies become more dangerous to us.

      Reply
      • posted by Lori Heine on

        Everything our government does, it does in our name. Actually, WE do it.

        We have no moral right to do things to others that would be criminal–and deservedly land us in prison–if we did them as individuals. We are morally responsible for the actions of our government. Therefore we must know what it is doing.

        It is the very things it is doing that put us in danger from spies, terrorists and the like. If we stopped doing those things, and just minded our own damned business, we could concentrate better on defeating terrorism and espionage against us.

        Sorry, but the sheeple defense just doesn’t work.

        Reply
        • posted by Jorge on

          We have no moral right to do things to others that would be criminal–and deservedly land us in prison–if we did them as individuals. We are morally responsible for the actions of our government. Therefore we must know what it is doing.

          We do. It’s called the House and Senate Intelligence Committee.

          Reply
          • posted by Lori Heine on

            Sorry, Jorge. I understood you to be a person of faith. I see I must have been wrong about that.

            Since you see human beings as gods unto themselves–answering to no higher authority–it is useless to argue with you about who is responsible for what.

        • posted by JohnInCA on

          We’re a republic, not a democracy.

          If we were a democracy and everyone voted and every little thing? Sure, we would need to know everything.

          But the average American no more needs to know what a diplomats personal thoughts on the Prime Minister of Germany then a shareholder of Pepsi needs to know what some middle-manager thinks of the CEO of Coke.

          Reply
          • posted by Lori Heine on

            Okay, John, I’ve gotten the message. You are not a progressive, or a liberal of any sort.

            Message received. Carry on.

  7. posted by TJ on

    Lori

    When you leak classifed information u are putting peoples at risk and quite possibly helping bona fide, terrorists.

    Reply
    • posted by Lori Heine on

      TJ, then what’s your first clue that another option is necessary? Beyond keeping the American people in the dark, of course.

      Granted, you’ve made it amply clear that you think libertarians are KA-RAAZY, but we are virtually the only people asking that question. If you really want to save America from our lunacy, you might want to get off the stick and start asking that question yourself.

      Reply
    • posted by JohnInCA on

      Person who actually works in the DoD and has access to classified material here.

      A large part of the problem with Manning isn’t that she leaked something that she felt the public needed to know, it’s that she downloaded things whole-sale and passed them to someone else to make that determination, in many cases without knowing the contents of what she was passing along.

      And this is part of the training you get when you get a security clearance. That it’s a crime to leak stuff, bit also that there are legal and ethical ways to do it when something does deserve to be exposed. Passing a mass download to a guy you met on the internet in the hope that he’ll do the right thing? That is never the right answer.

      Reply
      • posted by Lori Heine on

        Well, you are completely missing the point. I’m not arguing that people like Chelsea Manning should do what they do. I’m arguing that if the American people didn’t fall asleep at the wheel and ignore what government does — until someone blows a whistle (in whatever dangerous and potentially harmful way) — this would not happen.

        Reply
        • posted by JohnInCA on

          Really. That’s not you up above saying that the American people (and consequentially, the world) should know all about everything the government does?

          Which is it, is the government able to ethically keep secrets, or is it immoral for it to do so?

          Reply
          • posted by Lori Heine on

            It certainly isn’t “knowing everything the government does” to know whether or not it is slaughtering civilians in other countries or taking out hits on its own people.

            You are even more dishonest than I thought.

          • posted by JohnInCA on

            I’m being dishonest?

            Are these, or are these not, your words?
            “We are morally responsible for the actions of our government. Therefore we must know what it is doing.”

            Given the context of this conversation (Chelsea Manning), I wasn’t supposed to read that as a defense of Manning and reckless wholesale disclosure of classified documents?

            I was supposed to read that and not think that you don’t want the government keeping secrets?

            And by-the-by? America has been “slaughtering civilians in other countries ” for longer then I’ve been alive, and it’s been public knowledge. If you needed a leak to tell you that, then you weren’t paying attention. And it wasn’t any of the famous leaks that told us about the drone kill lists and how they included some Americans.

  8. posted by Jorge on

    Screw Log Cabin’s official statement. Chelsea Manning is a hero. As is Edward Snowden. As is Julian Assange.

    Sorry, I cannot agree.

    But LCR-Washington does throw great day-after MAGA accessorized business attire cocktail parties for those too old and/or too conventional to make the DeploraBall.

    Ohhhh, this is real nice. I get to miss two parties now. Well I’m holding my own party. In my office cubicle. Featuring Pokemon and griffins and cockatrices. Fred Frog means nothing to me. Humph!

    Reply
  9. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    For centuries, gay people have served with distinction and honor in the armed forces, and it is the service of these countless veterans whom today’s gays can thank for the freedom to serve openly. Bradley Manning’s actions are fodder to those who have long argued that homosexuality naturally leads to treason; some on the far right have argued that his actions were intended as “revenge” over the military’s then-enforced anti-gay policy. It is unconscionable that gay activists, of all people, would play into these slanders.

    If it hadn’t been Manning, it would have been someone else. The conservative Christian anti-gay spin machine may have lost the war for the hearts and minds of the American people, but that hasn’t slowed them down.

    Kirchick should spend some time reflecting on the actions of the hard-core segregationists during the decade following Brown v. Board, as African-Americans little by slowly integrated into American society. Every single lapse of judgment or behavior by African-Americans was held up as proof positive that integration was a mistake. Any African-American who wasn’t a Sidney Portier style Super-Negro– essentially a nonhuman caricature of a human — was grist for the anti-Black hate machine, and it isn’t over even now.

    We are going though a similar period at this time, and will be going though it for another decade or so, most likely. Like African-Americans of post-segregation era, we will be held to an impossible standard. Live with it.

    Reply
  10. posted by Jorge on

    If it hadn’t been Manning, it would have been someone else.

    And the key still would be in the trash. I am not convinced by what I am reading of the president’s motivations. I don’t think it’s anything on him, but there was a political payback to the gay lobby for this.

    (But Manning herself wrote the commutation request.)

    …that speaks to why I’m not buying it.

    The president could have flattened that air of arrogance about Manning years ago. Not saying he should have. He could have. He didn’t. That had its consequence.

    Reply
  11. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    And if Chelsea Manning Wasn’t a Transgender Cause Celebre?

    We wouldn’t be having this discussion. The commutation might have been controversial, but Stephen would have been denied the opportunity to use the commutation as a hammer against the LGBT community.

    BTW, I see that the New York Post is hot and heavy on the idea that President Trump should dance with Caitlyn Jenning tomorrow night. If he does, you can bet that Gregory Angelo will cream his pants over the symbolism.

    Reply
    • posted by Houndentenor on

      Yes, the sight of two media whores mugging for the cameras. It will be a top story for sure what with our celebrity obsessed “news” media. But it is of zero political significance.

      Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      But it is of zero political significance.

      Indeed it is. Yesterday, the Log Cabin Republicans delivered a white paper on “The Importance of Maintaining the LGBT Non-Discrimination Executive Order”.

      Over the next few days, we’ll begin to see what the Trump administration does with the Obama administration’s Executive Orders and departmental regulations protecting gays, lesbians and transgendered from employment, medical and other discrimination.

      Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      Well…

      he went out of his way to acknowledge his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway at a fundraiser dinner (that for some reason Fox News carried live) by asking her to come up to the stage with him–rather half-awkward considering she was dressed in an evening gown, but this is the last time he’ll get to acknowledge her as the candidate so I thought that was an awesome gesture.

      If I really believe that, it seems to me that the idea of dancing with Caitlyn Jenner would be a significant thing for him to act on the first opportunity he’ll have to acknowledge civilians as the Head of State.

      I think that’s being too idealistic, though. I wouldn’t expect President Obama to dance with a gay man.

      (50 years ago they wouldn’t have expected Richard Dawson to kiss a black woman.)

      Richard Dawson had 50 years to explore his own racial social pansexuality. The analogous does not apply to Donald Trump.

      Reply
  12. posted by Jorge on

    Sorry, Jorge. I understood you to be a person of faith. I see I must have been wrong about that.

    I find your lack of tolerance annoying and your argument irrelevant.

    Since you see human beings as gods unto themselves–answering to no higher authority–it is useless to argue with you about who is responsible for what.

    When the Conclave of Cardinals meets and chooses the Pope, a higher power visits the world, and from that influence comes an authority that is higher than mortal man.

    Such a thing has only happened in the United States at most twice: once in the Continental Congress, and once in the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, and even then it was very different, for the authority manifest itself into a collective consciousness of the patriot.

    Such that in Rome, a group of corrupt people empower a Bishop chosen by God to lead people to the kingdom of heaven. In the United States, an institution favored by God choose a corrupt person to promote a corrupt cause–the protection of earthly life.

    Don’t Catholics believe life is sacred? Indeed we do. But putting life above faith leads to a corruption of both.

    However that’s all really just a matter of faith, Lori. The government’s purpose is to protect the people. It should serve that purpose.

    Reply
    • posted by Lori Heine on

      “The government’s purpose is to protect the people. It should serve that purpose.”

      Yes, Jorge, it certainly should. But it doesn’t. And for those who didn’t already know that, the leaks by the whistleblowers prove it.

      Reply
    • posted by Lori Heine on

      “I find your lack of tolerance annoying and your argument irrelevant.”

      Jorge, I find a great many of your arguments incomprehensible. Sometimes you put forth a shining ray of sense. The rest of the time, it’s like listening to a character from Alice in Wonderland.

      But I will attempt to soldier on, despite your annoyance.

      Reply
  13. posted by Lori Heine on

    “Given the context of this conversation (Chelsea Manning), I wasn’t supposed to read that as a defense of Manning and reckless wholesale disclosure of classified documents?”

    “I was supposed to read that and not think that you don’t want the government keeping secrets?”

    John in CA, this is vintage you. And it’s exactly what I’m talking about.

    I don’t think the government should keep secret that it’s engaged in activities the people don’t want it to undertake. And if it didn’t do that, no whistleblowers would be needed.

    The issue is neither (A) whether the government had ever done these things before nor (B) whether anyone knew about it. It is whether it should be accountable for what it does.

    Bad things happen when bad things are done. It doesn’t necessarily excuse the people who do the bad things (exposing that the government is killing civilians, for example). But if the entire situation sucks, it must be remedied.

    Reply
    • posted by Lori Heine on

      If it shouldn’t be remedied by whistleblowing, then what about that “transparency” Obama promised us?

      We were supposed to be getting “the most transparent government EVAH” when he took charge. What a joke that turned out to be.

      Now the same toadies who excused absolutely everything Obama did or failed to do are bellyaching and throwing temper tantrums because leaks exposed that Hillary Clinton is monstrously corrupt, criminally irresponsible and totally unfit to hold even the office of dogcatcher.

      We’re not supposed to look past the shiny object dangled before us–“look! Russians!”–to notice the content of the information leaked.

      These halfwits will throw tantrums and complain for the entirety of Trump’s administration. What they’ll never have the stones to admit is that their incompetence and willingness to tolerate corruption is what got him elected in the first place.

      Reply
    • posted by JohnInCA on

      This is a country of over 300 million. If your standard is “someone doesn’t want the government doing it”, we’re right back at “no secrets”.

      Reply
      • posted by Lori Heine on

        John, you are such a liar that you really ought to be working for Bill/Hill or Fauxchahontas.

        I said: “I don’t think the government should keep secret that it’s engaged in activities the people don’t want it to undertake.”

        Which you try to distort into: “someone doesn’t want the government doing it”

        I’ve simply come to expect that when I engage you on this board, I’m going to get lies and distortions. Everyone else with a functioning mind has probably come to the same conclusion.

        If not, then their opinion is worth no more than yours.

        Reply
        • posted by JohnInCA on

          “John, you are such a liar that you really ought to be working for Bill/Hill or Fauxchahontas.”

          “Then there’s the fact that if people didn’t leak what was going on in our government, We the People simply wouldn’t know about it.”

          “The option greatly to be preferred would be that we rise up and take responsibility for what our government does — in our name — all over the world and even at home, to our fellow citizens.”

          “Why MUST a person become a criminal, and quite possibly a fugitive from the law, for informing us about what our own government is doing? And if it is engaged in nefarious activities–things that would land us in prison if we did them–is it not to be expected that some of its little minions (people like Snowden and Manning) might eventually find their consciences overburdened and leak them?”

          “We have no moral right to do things to others that would be criminal–and deservedly land us in prison–if we did them as individuals. We are morally responsible for the actions of our government. Therefore we must know what it is doing.”

          “I don’t think the government should keep secret that it’s engaged in activities the people don’t want it to undertake.”

          “Chelsea Manning is a hero. As is Edward Snowden. As is Julian Assange.”

          “I’m not arguing that people like Chelsea Manning should do what they do.”

          Reply
          • posted by Lori Heine on

            You post these quotes apparently believing that they’re somehow erroneous. You must not be terribly bright.

            If the citizenry took the responsibility of demanding to know what our government was doing–in our name, and with our tax money, endangering the lives of the kids we send overseas to fight its wars–then people like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden would not need to leak sensitive information.

            If you are intellectually incapable of understanding what I mean by that, then there’s no sense trying to explain it to you.

  14. posted by Jorge on

    Chase Strangio, Manning’s ACLU attorney, said that “Her story really does reflect so much of the systemic discrimination that transgender people face,” adding “She’s an incredibly thoughtful and devoted person,” and that “She’s felt a sense of responsibility to the transgender community and wanted to be someone who contributed to the fight for transgender justice.”

    This is where Tom Scharbach reminds me that the ACLU is a non-ideological organization and that what Manning’s attorney is really doing is the cynical crocodile tear-mining all ethical attorneys are supposed to do.

    Yes, Jorge, it certainly should. But it doesn’t.

    Yes it does. Your political opposition-motivated analysis that it does not is absolutely, positively, no justification whatsoever for supporting criminal behavior. That’s what led to **** like the FALN (another nice commutation controversy) in a time well after the United States government was known for violence toward Puerto Rico.

    Reply

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