Pvt. Chelsea Manning given 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award

Col. Ann Wright (ret.), at left, accepts the peace award on Manning's behalf.

Col. Ann Wright (ret.), at left, accepts the peace award on Manning’s behalf.

The International Peace Bureau honored Pvt. Chelsea Manning (then-Pfc. Bradley Manning) with the 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award, explaining that “among the very highest moral duties of a citizen is to make known war crimes and crimes against humanity….When Manning revealed to the world the crimes being committed by the U.S. military he did so as an act of obedience to this high moral duty.”

Retired U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright, who resigned in protest of the Iraq War, accepted the award on Manning’s behalf, and has mailed the medal to Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, who will show it to her at Ft. Leavenworth. Col. Wright’s acceptance remarks are below.

By Ann Wright, Private Manning Support Network. September 19, 2013. 

On behalf of US Army Private Chelsea Manning (previously known as Bradley Manning), I want to thank the International Peace Bureau for its award of the Sean MacBride Peace Award to Private Manning.  When Chelsea was told by her lawyer that IPB had selected her as the recipient of this year’s award, she was overwhelmed that such an organization would recognize her actions as actions for peace.  She knows the history of the MacBride Peace Award, in honor of Sean MacBride, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, founding member of Amnesty International and a tireless advocate for peaceful resolution of conflict.  Private Manning recognizes the works of previous awardees and is deeply honored to be included in their ranks.

As you know, Private Manning is not here to receive the award in person as she is incarcerated in the US military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas after she was sentenced on August 21, 2013 to 35 years in prison for giving over 800.000 pages of government documents known as the Iraq,  Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Diplomatic files to the online publishing organization Wikileaks.  Materials Private Manning provided documented human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law by US military, by Iraqi and Afghan military forces operating alongside US forces, and by military contractors. The files included reports on illegal and inhumane battlefield actions and previously unseen footage of journalists and other civilians being killed in US helicopter attacks, information which should  have been made available to the public.  

Private Manning said she acted on the belief that she could spark a meaningful public debate on the cost of war, and specifically on the conduct of the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan.  She said she did not intend to harm the United States, but wanted to have information about the wars more transparent to the American public. In her February 28, 2013, 10,000-word statement to the court, Private Manning said, “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Private Chelsea Manning’s sentence of 35 years is one that we would have expected for someone who disclosed information in order to harm the United States or who disclosed information for monetary game. Private Manning did neither.

2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award

2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award

Private Manning’s attorney David Coombs, wrote in a letter to the Secretary of the Army for a pardon and/or commutation of Chelsea’s sentence that, “Although the government is entitled to protect sensitive information, the documents in this case did not merit protection. Many of the documents released by Private Manning were either unclassified or contained information that the public had a right to know. None of the disclosed documents caused any real damage to the United States. Instead, these documents simply embarrassed our country by revealing misconduct by the Department of Defense and unethical practices by the Department of State.  We rely upon whistleblowers, even in those instances that might cause embarrassment, to keep our government accountable to its people. Private Manning is a military whistleblower. She disclosed documents that were vital for a public healthy public debate about our conduct in Iraq and Afghanistan, our detention policies in Guantánamo, and our diplomatic activities around the world. The sentence given to her by the military judge grossly exaggerates the seriousness of her conduct. It will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on future whistleblowers and damage the public’s perception of military justice.”

Civil rights organizations have criticized the harsh sentence given to Pvt. Manning.  Lisa Clayton, who co-directs the Brennan Center for Justice, Liberty and National Security program, called the 35-year sentence unprecedented and stated, “it is dramatically longer than the longest sentence previously ever received for disclosing classified information to the media, which was two years.”

Ben Wisner, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology project, said  ”a legal system that does not distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability.”

Ana Fitzgerald, the director of Amnesty International’s Research and Crisis Response, said “Chelsea Manning should be shown clemency in recognition of her motives for acting as she did, the treatment she endured in her early pretrial confinement, and the due process shortcomings during her trial.”

While Chelsea Manning faces many years in prison for the public disclosure of documents to WikiLeaks, numerous high-level officials have never been held accountable for the grave human rights violations committed during the United States war on terror including kidnapping, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention and torture. 

Documents released by Wikileaks were published in numerous national newspapers as Chelsea had hoped, citizens around the world read how many of their governments cooperated with the United States in kidnapping, imprisonment and torture in US war on terror—and were outraged as she had been.  

Private Manning has already paid a heavy price for her whistleblowing. She has been held for more than three years in military confinement. A substantial portion of that confinement was spent an unlawful solitary confinement at Marine Corps base Quantico. She endured a three-year protracted legal process and faced a meritless charge of aiding the enemy, which the court dismissed for lack of evidence.

The MacBride Award will encourage and hearten Private Chelsea Manning while she is in prison.

I urge everyone to write Chelsea while she is in prison and to donate to the Chelsea Manning educational fund* that the Private Manning Support Group has set up to provide money for her to attend college when she returns to our community.  

Again, on behalf of Private Chelsea Manning, I want to thank the International Peace Bureau for selecting her as the recipient of the 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award.

*The educational fund for Pvt. Chelsea Manning is coming soon!

7 thoughts on “Pvt. Chelsea Manning given 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award

  1. Thank you Col. Ann Wright for graciously accepting the 2013 Sean McBride Peace Award for Chelsea Manning. Chelsea Manning is a heroine for having released to the American people evidence of war crimes and other misdeeds that should not have been kept secret. It is via whistle blowers that the people learn of secret misdeeds and we need and honor such people as Chelsea Manning. Thank you for all you do also Col. Ann Wright. peace and hugs redwoodhippie

  2. We Will Not Leave Our Sister Behind-President Obama Pardon Private Chelsea Manning Now!

    From The Pen Of Peter Paul Markin

    The headlines of the summer are now still. The verdict, the legal verdict if not the verdict of history, in the case of the United States vs. Private First Class Bradley Manning has been proclaimed, guilty on 20 of 22 counts. The draconian 35 year sentence has been imposed by the cruel pro-government military judge, Colonel Lind. The media pundits and commentators too have had their say, mainly that stern justice had been served by the conviction, a conviction in keeping with their own desire to keep things secret from us and not let some lowly enlisted soldier expose their house of cards. Some, like the ostrich-like New York Times, balked a little at the excessive sentence and then moved on. Others had a momentary titter when Bradley turned into Chelsea to express her real gender and then they too moved on. All is now quiet, the case is yesterday’s news now long outside the 24/7 cycle interest. In their eyes Private Manning has had her fifteen minutes of fame and now she is reduced to just another military prisoner confined to the maximum security barracks out in the prairies of Kansas at Fort Leavenworth to face an uncertain future.

    Chelsea Manning now also faces the hard fate that occurs in almost all political prisoner cases, doing the hard time while waiting for the slow cumbersome appeals process to work its way through the military and civilian courts of appeal. Waits in the near term for a possible reduction in sentence by the convening officer of Private Manning’s court-martial who has the authority to do so, General Buchanan. And waits too, with fading hopes, for some short way home presidential pardon from a President who wrongfully interjected himself into the case with his comments early on. That pardon campaign took a serious turn for the worst when a recent Amnesty International/ Private Manning Support Network White House on-line petition failed, falling seriously short of getting the required 100,000 signatures that would have forced the Obama Administration to address the question posed by the petition.

    She must also face the very real falloff that has already occurred in the positive public support and activity around her case now that the verdict and sentence are in and the media interest has shut down around the case. Also there will fewer periodic public rallies around the world from Afghanistan to the States on her behalf, reflecting a diffusion of focus now that supporters are not riveted to the public presence at trial. The long list of those celebrities and average citizens who have contributed their names, their time, their money and their energies have and will fall off on behalf of our heroic Wikileaks whistle-blower as well. Even strong and committed supporters who have led the Manning efforts here in the Boston, including members of an organization I support, Veterans for Peace, and who have publicized the case for the past three years have decided to curtail their weekly stand-out that had been running over the past two years. They have decided to pursue other less public strategies to gain Chelsea’s freedom. To fight that battle for her freedom on other fronts from fund-raising events to contacting any governmental officials who will “grease the way” to the President to give us a hearing on the pardon application.

    And that last point is really the crux of this commentary. The struggle continues, continues until Chelsea is free. That is where mentioning the support of Veterans for Peace comes in, people who have served in the military, who have gotten “religion” on the right side of the angels on the questions of war and peace and who have stood in solidarity with, and defense of, Private Manning since almost the beginning of her incarceration. All of us, whether we served in wars or in “peace-time,”went through the rigors and madness of basic training where hoary old drill sergeants beat us over the head with the notion that you had to take care of your buddy, that your survival and by this they meant in the heat of battle depended on buying into that concept. Any veteran can tell you many stories about how in the end their involvement with the military came down to just that embedded idea when the deal went done and the dust settled. Not letting down their buddies. Not leaving your buddies behind. Whether most drilled-in military concepts are worth anything is hard to judge, fear and recklessness may in fact play a larger role. Nevertheless we can take that not leaving your buddy behind concept and apply it here. However we may end up supporting Chelsea Manning it is with the understanding that she is our buddy. We will not leave our sister behind. Remember that. Remember this as well- President Obama Pardon Private Chelsea Manning Now!

    • Hi Howard, Chelsea is just coming out of the month-long induction process at Leavenworth with very limited access to news, etc. Her lawyer says in the process it slipped her mind that this award and the honorary acceptance by Ann Wright had been discussed. We expect a statement from him shortly. Unfortunate this may have generated some confusion, so we appreciate your question. We’ve always made every effort to work WITH Chelsea directly, the family members closest with her, her lawyer.
      We’ve always have been very conservative in our messaging in order to avoid misrepresenting Chelsea or putting words into her mouth. However, regardless [of the gaps], to us–and to hundreds of thousands of supporters–it has always been obvious that her actions in 2010 intersect crucially not only with issues of information transparency but also with efforts towards a critical discussion about U.S. wars and foreign policy.
      Since being among the first organizations to recognize that back in 2010, we have never regretted that decision.
      We continue to fight to bring Chelsea home sooner rather than later, in appreciation of how her disclosures have forwarded the debate around militarism and wars so costly in so many ways. And, as always, we aim to structure our campaign with her input.

  3. It is being reported (Oct 9) today that Ms. Manning is dismayed by having been given this award:

    “I don’t consider myself a ‘pacifist,’ ‘anti-war,’ or (especially) a ‘conscientious objector’,” she writes. “Now – I accept that there may be ‘peaceful’ or ‘anti-war’ implications to my actions – but this is purely based on your [Wright’s] subjective interpretation of the primary source documents released in 2010-11.”

    And yet, Wright never used any of these terms in accepting the award on Ms Manning’s behalf, and instead makes clear that her motivation was “the belief that she could spark a meaningful public debate on the cost of war, and specifically on the conduct of the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Additionally, the website of the International Peace Bureau, which presents the award, does not specify that the recipient be a “pacifist” or “conscientious objector.” Indeed, it explicitly states that Ms Manning was recognized for “revealing information about US war crimes,” which seems beyond dispute.

    Ms Manning has also stated, “I believe it is also perfectly reasonable to subjectively interpret these documents and come to the opposite opinion and say ‘hey, look at these documents, they clearly justify this war’ (or diplomatic discussion, or detention of an individual).” Of course she is entitled to her opinion, but this, it seems to me, is entirely revisionist. She never suggested that possibility in any of her pre-trial statements, and, though I have read just a fraction of everything that was released on Wikileaks, I have seen nothing that might reasonably be suggested to support the US war efforts or even war in general. Furthermore, had such an interpretation been reasonable, it seems rather unlikely that the IPB would have awarded her its peace prize, and just as unlikely that she would have been as roundly denounced by the supporters of US adventurism abroad.

    IMO, Ms Manning is courageous, selfless, and compassionate, and she deserves every American’s (and every world citizen’s) respect and thanks. The award is well-earned and appropriate. But I am totally confused by her reaction to being honored.

    • Hi David, Chelsea is just coming out of the month-long induction process at Leavenworth with very limited access to news, etc. Her lawyer says in the process it slipped her mind that this award and the honorary acceptance by Ann Wright had been discussed. We expect a statement from him shortly. Unfortunate this may have generated some confusion, so we appreciate your question. We’ve always made every effort to work WITH Chelsea directly, the family members closest with her, her lawyer.
      We’ve always have been very conservative in our messaging in order to avoid misrepresenting Chelsea or putting words into her mouth. However, regardless [of the gaps], to us–and to hundreds of thousands of supporters–it has always been obvious that her actions in 2010 intersect crucially not only with issues of information transparency but also with efforts towards a critical discussion about U.S. wars and foreign policy.
      Since being among the first organizations to recognize that back in 2010, we have never regretted that decision.
      We continue to fight to bring Chelsea home sooner rather than later, in appreciation of how her disclosures have forwarded the debate around militarism and wars so costly in so many ways. And, as always, we aim to structure our campaign with her input.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>