Security

Chelsea Manning writes a letter after receiving 35 years in jail for leaking U.S. cables

Above: Free Bradley Manning sign

Image Credit: savebradley/Flickr

Chelsea Manning, the U.S. soldier who released classified diplomatic cables to Wikileaks in 2010, published an open letter today after recently being sentenced to 35 years in jail.

The letter, published in Time, tells of those things Manning is thankful for — people who ask “dangerous questions.”

It’s an obvious nod at the very actions that landed him in a multi-year trial and eventual jail-time sentencing. While in the army, Manning saw what she believed to be questionable actions being taken within the government as connected to the war in Iraq. She decided in 2010 to blow the whistle on these actions and was eventually caught after chatting with government informant Andrian Lamo.

In the letter, she says:

I’m thankful for people who, even surrounded by millions of Americans eating turkey during regularly scheduled commercial breaks in the Green Bay and Detroit football game; who, despite having been taught, often as early as five and six years old, that the “helpful natives” selflessly assisted the “poor helpless Pilgrims” and lived happily ever after, dare to ask probing, even dangerous, questions.

Such people are often nameless and humble, yet no less courageous. Whether carpenters of welders; retail clerks or bank managers; artists or lawyers, they dare to ask tough questions, and seek out the truth, even when the answers they find might not be easy to live with.

She goes on point out that many of these truth seekers give up their lives for the cause, calling out Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Harvey Milk as people who fall in this category. But the letter seems to quietly encompass modern-day whistleblowers such as herself and perhaps more recently, NSA-leaker Edward Snowden.

“So, this year, and every year, I’m thankful for such people, and I’m thankful that one day—perhaps not tomorrow—because of the accomplishments of such truth-seekers and human rights pioneers, we can live together on this tiny “pale blue dot” of a planet and stop looking inward, at each other, but rather outward, into the space beyond this planet and the future of all of humanity.”