In 2010 Bradley Manning became a household name when he was identified as the whistle-blower who supplied WikiLeaks with classified US intelligence material. The former analyst who was based in Iraq was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison for various accounts of treason in September 2013.
While his case certainly sets precedent, Manning is pulling yet another first out of his sleeve. The private writes in an open letter that he wants to start hormone treatments to become a woman – a woman Manning asks to be called Chelsea.
“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun.”
Manning is responsible for the single biggest security leak in history. Her efforts lead to more than 700,000 documents entering the public domain. Among the many classified documents were detailed reports of war crimes such as killings of civilians. Perhaps the most famous was the killing of a dozen civilians in an Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007.
The group of innocents included two Reuters staff. A van showed up on the scene a few minutes after the shooting and the helicopter pilots were eager to get permission to open fire again. Two children nearly lost their lives while the pilots cheered their accuracy of hitting the front window of the vehicle.
Since her arrest in May 2010, there have been a lot of mixed feelings towards Manning’s actions. Supporters who’ve been demanding her release from day one hail her as a hero while others want to see her publicly executed for endangering the lives of US troops.
Manning’s 35-year sentence has been credited with time served and there is a chance she could be released on parole after eight years of good behavior. The intelligence officer was ultimately charged with 22 offenses and found guilty of 17 of them. Her sentence will be served at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.
Reporters without borders have condemned the length of the sentence, saying it demonstrates how vulnerable whistle-blowers are. Up till June 8, the White House website guaranteed the protection of whistle-blowers: “Barack Obama will strengthen whistle-blower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government.”
This has since been removed from the site and the White House has not responded to multiple media requests for comments as to why