Chelsea Manning, the U.S. soldier who was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for leaking government secrets to WikiLeaks, slammed the United States in a scathing editorial published this weekend in the New York Times.
In the opinion piece, entitled “The Fog Machine of War,” Manning – who was known as “Bradley” at the time of her conviction before she changed her name and openly expressed her desire to live as a woman – argues that the U.S. has been dishonest with its citizens about what is actually happening in Iraq.
She claims the soldiers stationed in Iraq saw a very different side of the 2010 elections than the positive one portrayed in the media. Instead of praising the U.S. for intervening and being responsible for a successful and democratic election process, she exposed rampant corruption that included the torturing and killing of any political dissident who opposed Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, reports the New York Times.
Manning took aim at what she calls the “limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy” which she said “make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance,” reports CNN.
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She went on to say that, despite the fact that 31 million people live in Iraq and 117,000 troops are stationed there, only about 12 American journalists covered military operations during her deployment. Those reporters were required to sign a media “ground rules” agreement, which reportedly gave Army public affairs officials the power to terminate their access whenever they saw fit.
A Pentagon spokesperson reportedly said that “embeds are a privilege, not a right” and that the decision to terminate them is done to protect security. But Manning claims many reporters had their access terminated after they published controversial pieces that criticized the war in Iraq.
Manning said that, despite leaking classified information out of a love for her country and a “sense of duty to others,” she understands that her actions violated the law.