In her first public statement since August, after being convicted of leaking a massive trove of classified documents to WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning rejected the media’s depiction of her as a pacifist and an anti-war activist.
In a letter delivered to The Guardian, Manning, formerly known by the first name Bradley, says she was “shocked and frustrated” about the way she has been portrayed by some of her supporters. In particular she expresses frustration over the “2013 Sean McBride Peace Award” that was accepted in her honor by a prominent supporter who indicated that Manning was “overwhelmed” by the honor.
“From my perspective at least, it’s not terribly clear to me that my actions were explicitly done for ‘peace.’ I don’t consider myself a ‘pacifist,’ ‘anti-war,’ or (especially) a ‘conscientious objector.'”
Manning’s letter contradicts previous statements made by her attorney, David Coombs, regarding the Sean McBride Peace Award. In response to the publication of her letter, Coombs released a statement indicating that he had spoken to Manning since the letter was published.
“Chelsea told me that she has been feeling isolated and out of touch with the outside world during the indoctrination period at the United States Disciplinary Barracks, which is what led to her confusion over this issue,” Coombs said.
Responding to Manning’s rejection of the “pacifist” label, Coombs said that she “considers herself a ‘transparency advocate’… Chelsea has never claimed to be anti-war; indeed she joined the military to defend her country. However, she is a humanist and was motivated in her actions not only by her transparency beliefs, but also by deep concern for the value of human life.”
Read Manning’s entire letter here.