A FEW DAYS AGO, we learned that Private Chelsea Manning attempted to take her own life last month for the second time since being sentenced to 35 years at the U.S. military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. The whistleblower, who provided the collateral murder video, the Iraq and Afghan war logs, and the hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. State Department cables to Wikileaks, was convicted of espionage. As I waited to vote today, I found myself thinking of her languishing in misery in isolation and incarceration.
This election — particularly in its closing stages — has been dominated by controversies over emails, classified documents, and Wikileaks. We’ve heard endlessly about Hillary Clinton’s private basement server, her 33,000 deleted emails, the phishing and leaking of John Podesta’s emails, including parts of Clinton’s much discussed private speeches to Goldman Sachs. Trump, for his part, suddenly discovered a great love for Julian Assange, though he does have trouble correctly spelling Wikileaks in his tweets of praise. Taken together with Trump’s bizarre and consistent lauding of Vladimir Putin and leaks from the U.S. intelligence community, the country has been treated to an odd flashback of Cold War propaganda, including a fair dose of red-baiting from the Democrats. In the matter of Anthony Weiner’s computer, his wife Huma Abedin’s communications and the potential implications for Clinton, the FBI, whose overreach had not previously been of much concern to Democrats, suddenly became a deviant manipulator of the electoral process, while Trump and his supporters alternately praised the agency’s professionalism and denounced it as part of the rigged system.
The U.S. public is now getting a taste of the way hacking, phishing, and an overwhelming dependence on fallible machines and networks can impact politics. But let’s be clear: None of the disclosures in this campaign — not one thing in any of the hacked emails or those declassified and released from Clinton’s private server — has brought to light anything of greater importance than the documents Chelsea Manning provided to Wikileaks. She revealed war crimes, including murder and torture, dirty and duplicitous dealings of the U.S. and its allies, exposed liars, documented a secret history of America’s longest running war, and forced a much needed debate about the U.S. role in the world. And for that, she is being tortured.
Read the rest at The Intercept.