Chelsea Manning has written a statement about the nation’s state of security from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth where she is serving 35 years incarceration for leaking over 700,000 military documents, including the Collateral Murder video showing footage of a U.S. Apache gunship slaughtering Middle Eastern journalists.
Manning released the statement via the Pvt. Manning Support Network this week discussing the issues caused by U.S. secrecy and said that it contradicts the vision of America held by the Founding Fathers. Manning noted there is an issue with “secrecy, obfuscation, and classification or protective marking, in that they supposedly protect citizens of their nation; yet, it also breeds a unilateralism that the founders feared, and deliberately tried to prevent when drafting the American Constitution.”
Manning cited a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case involving the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union where the federal government refused to release some documents deemed as threatening to national security. The documents outlined the “targeting killing” of American citizens, and the NYT and ACLU argued that the practice was a matter of public interest.
However, the government first denied the documents’ existence, then later said the documents were real but harmful to national security and exempted from public disclosure. A federal district court decided that the government had not violated FOIA by withholding the documents, but also noted in the ruling that the court “[could not] be compelled . . . to explain in detail the reasons why [the government’s] actions do not violate the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
The judge also noted her uneasiness about the case because it raised “serious issues about the limits of power of the Executive Branch under the Constitution.” Manning indicated that the judge’s ruling showed that the judge hadn’t the authority to compel the documents’ disclosure. In short, there is an obvious hyperextension of powers in the government’s executive branch.
Manning condemned FOIA as a “seemingly Orwellian ‘newspeak’” name because the law doesn’t actually guarantee freedom of information, but it’s rather a checklist that outlines what exempts certain documents from public disclosure. She indicated that creating a secrecy state expels the public’s inclusion in government. The government operates without regard of the people and slowly begins to transcend any form of checks and balances.
Manning, who was awarded the Sam Adams Prize in absentia for Integrity in Intelligence, ended his statement with a credo shared by John Milton and Foes Friedman: “a society that puts secrecy – in the sense of state secrecy – ahead of transparency and accountability will end up neither secure nor free.”