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Kiriakou writes: "Chelsea Manning is serving an indeterminate period of incarceration because she refused to testify before a grand jury. And to make matters worse, she apparently is being held in solitary confinement. What she is doing, in my view, is heroic for myriad reasons."

Chelsea Manning. (photo: Getty)
Chelsea Manning. (photo: Getty)

Mad Respect for Chelsea Manning

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

29 March 19


helsea Manning, the Army whistleblower who released hundreds of thousands of pages of classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2011 and who called attention to war crimes committed by US troops, is back in jail. Manning is being held in the federal lockup in Alexandria, Virginia, not for providing classified information to the media. Indeed, she was already sentenced to 35 years in a military prison for doing that. (She served seven years before President Obama commuted her sentence.) Instead, she is serving an indeterminate period of incarceration because she refused to testify before a grand jury. And to make matters worse, she apparently is being held in solitary confinement. What she is doing, in my view, is heroic for myriad reasons.

There is no need to rehash what Chelsea Manning did in 2011. You don’t have to like Chelsea to admit, correctly, that she’s a whistleblower. There’s a legal definition of whistleblowing. It is bringing to light any evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, illegality, or threats to public health or public safety. That’s exactly what she did. And the price that she has paid has been very high. Chelsea spent two of her seven years in prison in solitary confinement, a situation the United Nations has characterized as a form of torture. Her supporters contend that she is once again in solitary confinement in Alexandria. She twice attempted suicide the first time she was in solitary. And she was forced to remain naked for a year in solitary because she was a suicide risk. Authorities were afraid that she would use her clothes to hang herself.

In early March, Chelsea was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in the federal court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The media reported that the Justice Department’s prosecutors wanted her to testify about her relationship with WikiLeaks cofounder Julian Assange and how she was able to pass classified documents to him in 2011. Manning contended that she had already testified to those questions in her own trial in 2012 and that all the feds had to do was to enter into the record the transcript of her trial.

The feds wouldn’t relent. But neither would Manning. She said she would invoke her 5th amendment right against self-incrimination. But the feds offered her qualified immunity. Nothing she said before the grand jury would be used against her (except if she contradicted her 2011 testimony. That’s a trick the feds love to use to charge people with perjury or with making a false statement. More on that in a minute.). Manning held firm, however. Even with the qualified immunity offer, she said that she would invoke her 1st amendment right to freedom of speech, her 4th amendment right against illegal search and seizure, and her 6th amendment right to due process. She wouldn’t budge, and the Justice Department asked the judge to hold her indefinitely in contempt of court. That is how Manning has found herself behind bars again.

When Manning was arrested and charged with contempt of court, I tweeted, “Mad respect today for @xychelsea, who showed greater toughness than anybody involved in the so-called Russiagate collusion case. She went back to jail rather than turn rat. That’s the very definition of resolve. And it’s in the face of the ‘Espionage Court.’”

I said this — and I believe every word of it — because Manning’s actions remind me of those of folk singer and legendary activist Pete Seeger, a personal hero of mine.

Pete Seeger was a member of the Communist Party USA from the early 1940s until 1949, when he split with the party over Josef Stalin’s atrocities. Still, he remained friendly with many Party members. In 1955 Seeger, along with folksingers and members of his band The Weavers, Lee Hayes, Mil Lampell, and Ronnie Gilbert, were subpoenaed to testify before the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), where they were asked to name names. Hayes, Lampell, and Gilbert all pleaded the 5th so as not to incriminate themselves. They urged Seeger to do the same. But he refused.

Instead, Seeger went before the HUAC and refused to answer any questions, citing his constitutional rights under the 1st amendment. He told the Committee, “I am not going to answer any questions as to my associations, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”

Seeger was charged with ten felony counts of contempt of Congress, similar to Manning’s charge of contempt of court, and was convicted and sentenced to ten concurrent one-year terms in federal prison. The conviction was overturned a year later on a technicality.

Like Manning, Seeger could have taken the easy way out. But he didn’t. He could have just taken the 5th. He could have answered each question with “I don’t recall.” But he chose to make a political point, to take a stand. That was courageous in 1955 and it is courageous in 2019.

Seeger was caught up in the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s. The situation for Manning, though, is more sinister. Contrary to popular belief, President Obama did not pardon Chelsea Manning in the final days of his administration. Instead, he commuted Manning’s sentence, simply releasing her from prison. The conviction still stands, and Manning is still in legal jeopardy if prosecutors decide to charge her with crimes related to the original charges. With that said, was Manning’s subpoena a ham-handed attempt to get her to contradict herself in new testimony, thus inviting a new felony charge for perjury or making a false statement? Were prosecutors trying to get Manning to implicate herself in some process felony? Or were they simply trying to force her to turn rat on Julian Assange?

Again, Manning could have taken the easy way out. She could have simply answered each question with “I don’t recall.” She would have been home in time for dinner. Instead, she made a political point — one that all of us should want to emulate. That point is “Don’t tread on me.” That point is “I’m willing to jeopardize my freedom to protect yours.”

I say often that in my time at the CIA I learned that CIA culture is such that employees are taught that everything in life is a shade of gray. But that is simply not true. Some things are black and white, right or wrong. This is one of those things. It’s the government that’s the enemy here, not Manning or Assange.

Remember, the American people own the information that Manning and Assange are accused of releasing. We have a right to know what our government is doing in our name. We have a right to know if the government is covering up crimes. We have a right to know when — and why — those Americans who commit war crimes or crimes against humanity are not being prosecuted. The mainstream media doesn’t tell us. But WikiLeaks does.

Remember also that it is illegal to classify a crime for the purpose of keeping the information from the America people. It is also illegal to classify information simply because it is embarrassing to the American government. We wouldn’t know about some of the most heinous war crimes of the past two decades without Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. You don’t have to like them. You don’t have to share their politics. You don’t have to want to go out and have a beer with them. But you do have to respect what they’ve done for us.

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John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act – a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration's torture program.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+35 # Moxa 2019-03-29 14:24
It is so sad that the world is run by power-hungry hypocrites who make good seem evil, and evil good. The service both Assange and Manning have rendered to the world is incalculable. It is comforting to know such truth tellers exist for the benefit of the rest of us. And it is painful to think of Chelsea languishing in prison for her courage, and Assange facing possible espionage charges for the sin of revealing some of the dirty realities of our world.

The mainstream media should be ashamed and also deeply concerned. Assange and Manning are doing the media's job--informing the people--and the media don't have the guts even to stand up for them. Moreover, the attacks on Assange are attacks on the press as a whole. What kind of deep denial is it that enables them to lose sight of this fact?
+14 # AldoJay69 2019-03-30 09:38
"power-hungry hypocrites who make good seem evil, and evil good."

I voted for Obama twice, because I HAD NO OTHER CHOICE!

Can we finally remove his halo, *(evil seems good,)* and recognize that he was MORE despicable than Cheney or Trump?!!

Cheney and Trump were obvious puppet/stooges to PNAC and to Fox News and you knew it.
Wolves at the gate.

Obama was a wolf in sheep's clothing! Try as I may, I can't find a way that Obama didn't enact every same ideology as the right, including his great big signature achievement, Romneycare.

As for Chelsea, it's now common knowledge that Obama hung more whistleblowers out to dry than ANY OTHER ADMINISTRATION! Chelsea Manning goes to prison, but NOT ONE SINGLE WALL ST SCUMBAG!

We must be honest with ourselves. To us on the left, Obama was a treasonous traitor!
+11 # laborequalswealth 2019-03-30 13:42
While we're at it, let me point out that Beto O'Rourke looks like the Hispanic Obama to me. And Kamala Harris is Obama with ovaries. Two destructive corporate Demos I wouldn't vote for if the White House was on fire.
+5 # ktony 2019-03-30 19:59
Quoting laborequalswealth:
While we're at it, let me point out that Beto O'Rourke looks like the Hispanic Obama to me. And Kamala Harris is Obama with ovaries. Two destructive corporate Demos I wouldn't vote for if the White House was on fire.

Beto is a nickname. Robert Francis O'Rourke is not Hispanic. I agree with you, otherwise. No trust for him or Harris.
+43 # Anne Frank 2019-03-29 15:22
Solitary confinement, being a form of torture, plainly contrary to the 8th and 5th Amendments, indicates that the billionaires who have bought the U.S. government no longer even pretend to respect the U.S. constitution.
+39 # aDog8myH8 2019-03-29 15:24
I have total respect for John, Pete and Chelsea, all brave people who sacrificed their freedom to do the right thing.
+33 # 2019-03-29 16:58
Everyone must read this and know this. These statements represent nothing less than concern for the integrity, strength, and foundation of Our Constitution, Republic, and humanity. We want America to be that great beacon of hope and decency, and remain so in perpetuity ... We demand that Our Soldiers fight and die upholding Our Constitution, humanity, and decency, and Our Republic of, by and for the people, nothing less. We demand all Americans here and abroad, including mercenaries, fight only for just causes and always uphold the values of Our Constitution. Thank you Chelsea and John, for your magnanimous service to and sacrifice for America.

Demand review, reform, and valid, reliable, and verifiable oversight of the Intel Apparatus. Demand that Congress resolve and address fully and completely the concerns of Eisenhower and Truman. I protest in Miami if anyone wants to join me. Protest wherever you are, before it might be too late. Chelsea, the whole World hears you and is watching. Thank you.
+17 # PABLO DIABLO 2019-03-30 04:23
Admiral Poindexter testified under Oath "I don't remember" more than two hundred times. W Bush and Dick Cheney were allowed to testify without being under the Oath in the 911 Investigation. Time to take back "our" government folks.
+8 # laborequalswealth 2019-03-30 13:41
Hell, Dickhead Cheney just REFUSED to appear - i.e. he was in blatant contempt of Congress. Really, far worse than contempt of court. Contempt for American voters.

What slime runs this country.
+14 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-03-30 07:32
John's statement is brilliant. He understands the Manning case perfectly and he understands the terrible power that federal prosecutors wield. He is very likely right. They do want to put Manning back in prison for 35 years. Commuting Manning's sentence was one of the very good things Obama did.

Perjury traps are so easy for the Feds. We see this all the time. No one even has to lie. You just have to use different word this time as opposed to the words you used last time. The profession of federal prosecutor is a self-selecting process for viciousness. The worst of sociopaths rise to the top. This does not mean there aren't some good prosecutors. It is a necessary profession and good people go into it. But they don't last long.

Where is the ACLU on this one? Why is there not a motion for emergency relief to get Manning out of jail and solitary confinement. She has constitutional grounds for her refusal to cooperate with the prosecutors.

And why is there not media outrage at the years long assault by federal prosecutors against Assange.

I'm sure the Mueller report will have something to say about Assange when it is released. It will be interesting. Maybe Mueller will surprise us and conclude that there is nothing to the fake news about a linkage of Putin-Assange-T rump.
+5 # ktony 2019-03-30 20:09
"And why is there not media outrage at the years long assault by federal prosecutors against Assange."
I pretty much assume that your are being rhetorical, here, Rodion. The media are owned by the same folks who buy Congress Critters, as I don't have to tell you.

Your question about the ACLU is far more disturbing. What is their position on this case, aside from inaction, if it is known?
+12 # Robbee 2019-03-30 11:58
Mad Respect for Chelsea Manning
By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News
29 March 19

- heroes of good government - of snowden and manning, a grateful nation should erect statues! award medals!`

meanwhile our prez is busy erecting monuments to ignorance and intolerance!

does our nation know what to appreciate? who to honor?

sometimes the only places to find substance are among john's columns?
+11 # laborequalswealth 2019-03-30 13:39
"...was Manning’s subpoena a ham-handed attempt to get her to contradict herself in new testimony, thus inviting a new felony charge for perjury or making a false statement?"

Well, DUH. That is exactly what it's about - try to find some minor discrepancy in 100's of pages of testimony, then prosecute for "perjury."

Our government has become a CIA-controlled moral cesspit.
+13 # RICHARDKANE.Philadelphia 2019-03-31 09:34
Fight solitary confinement as a punishment
+2 # DongiC 2019-04-01 17:11
You are a true patriot, Chelsea, and I am grateful for what you do and have done. Hang in there, there are many who support you and wish you well. Thanks again for your courage and commitment.

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