Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear spoke with Gerry Condon of Veterans for Peace; Noelle Hanrahan, executive director of Prison Radio; and Jeremy Kuzmarov, a professor of American history at the University of Tulsa, about Manning’s experience as a political prisoner, her release and the importance of the leaks she supplied.
Condon, who did a lot of activism around Manning’s release, said he is “elated” about her freedom, saying Veterans for Peace supported the whisteblower "because she revealed critically important information that American people and the world needed to see regarding the true nature of US wars and occupation Afghanistan and Iraq."
"She revealed routine war crimes committed by US troops, including the famous ‘Collateral Murder’ video showing unarmed civilians in Iraq, including two children being gunned down by US soldiers from a helicopter above," he said.
"She also revealed information from the daily logs of the Mrmy in Iraq and Afghanistan that showed the progress of the war was much different than we were being told by our political leaders. We were being told that everything is going well, that we were winning those wars, when in fact the opposite was true," he added.
Kuzmarov noted the especially harsh treatment Manning received while imprisoned, remarking that, "We do see a pattern where whistleblowers are often treated very very harshly and it’s a way of sending a message."
He explained that although Manning’s revelations were damning to Washington, with whistleblowers the issue isn’t necessarily the content of their leaks, but, “It’s the defiance, it’s the fact that she leaked those documents clandestinely through WikiLeaks and I think they wanted to send a signal to her.
"I think it’s about power and someone who defied the state, and the state wanting to show who’s in power."
Condon agreed, saying that Manning endured "Horrible, unacceptable treatment," and said that "the prison system is defined by abuse and in the case of Chelsea they were, in the initial months, certainly trying to break her spirit, which to her credit, they did not succeed. There’s no doubt that they were putting extra pressure on her in the hopes that she would break and take a different posture than defending what she had done and perhaps collaborate some other way with the government, but she refused to do that."
Host Brian Becker pointed out the strong bias against Manning in the mainstream media, calling it a part of "an attempt to silence whistleblowers."
"She is not free because there was a chorus from the mainstream media’s editorial departments demanding that she have an early release," he said. "It really was a people’s movement that won this freedom."
Hanrahan agreed, saying, "Honestly, it’s people power. It is every single individual who stood out there with a sign, who talked to a congressperson, made a donation. It matters. Actions matters."