The Army said yesterday that Chelsea Manning will remain on active duty following her release from military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on May 17. That date is fast approaching and happens to be Wednesday. Manning will be an unpaid soldier but she will be eligible for health care and other benefits.
Chelsea Manning will remain a private, Army spokesman Dave Foster told USA Today. “Private Manning is statutorily entitled to medical care while on excess leave in an active duty status, pending final appellate review,” Foster said. Manning’s scheduled release from prison has upset many on the right of the political spectrum because she leaked military documents proving the United States Army commits war crimes. The fact that she will be eligible for health care and other benefits upon release is likely to cause an uproar as well, as many judge Manning for being transgender and making public the truth about the war crimes she did not commit.
Although Manning will remain active in the military, the Army did not say what post she will be assigned to, nor did they say who she will be reporting to upon her release.
Manning’s original sentence was 35 years. But that sentence was commuted by former president Barack Obama right before he left office and she thanked him for her clemency on Tuesday when announcing her freedom was imminent. Last year, Army officials told her she was eligible for sex reassignment surgery and the government (taxpayers) would pay for it, attorney Chase Strangio of the American Civil Liberties Union told reporters. This has caused many to take issue with the gender reassignment surgery. Manning also underwent hormone treatment while serving her sentence.
The whistleblowing Manning was convicted in 2013, during Barack Obama’s term, for releasing more than 700,000 classified military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks. Manning acknowledged leaking the materials, saying she wanted to expose the U.S. military’s disregard for the effects of war on civilians. She also said she released information that she didn’t believe would harm the US but would enlighten some to the harsh realities of the United States’ involvement in wars. Manning was arrested in 2010 as “Bradley” and came out as transgender after being sentenced. She filed a transgender rights lawsuit and attempted suicide twice last year, according to her lawyers.
Her attorneys said Manning was subjected to violence in prison and argued that the military mistreated her by requiring her to serve her sentence in an all-male prison, restricting her physical and mental health care, and not allowing her to wear a feminine-style haircut.
Hopefully Manning will find some peace after her release. The military’s decision to keep Manning active is strange considering what she was behind bars for in the first place. They obviously don’t think she is a potential problem or a “threat” or an “ungrateful traitor” as Donald Trump dubbed her. The information released by Manning was uncomfortable and upset many, yet it was the truth, and we all deserved to know what the government and military are doing with our money. It’s too bad whistleblowers like Manning are being prosecuted. It just means that government will be able to lie with impunity while punishing those who dare to speak the truth.
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