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Chelsea Manning: US secrecy breeds unilateralism that defies constitution

Published time: February 21, 2014 14:31
Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

The US government’s pursuit of secrecy and power lends itself to unilateralism which the Founding Fathers feared, Chelsea Manning has said. The whistleblower spoke out after being awarded the Sam Adams prize for Integrity in Intelligence.

In a written statement posted on the Pvt. Manning Support Network, Chelsea Manning said the US is moving towards what the American constitution was written to prevent. Following the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, “the American government has been pursuing an unprecedented amount of secrecy and power consolidation in the Executive branch, under the President and the Cabinet,” Manning wrote.

Referencing a recent Freedom of Information case, when the US government declined to release documents on targeted killings that it deemed harmful to national security, Manning called the White House’s approach “seemingly Orwellian.”

In the case, the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the practice of targeted killing of US citizens was a matter of public interest, and information pertaining to it should be available.

However, the court concluded the American government had “not violated the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) by refusing to turn over the documents sought in the FOIA requests, and [could not] be compelled . . . to explain in detail the reasons why [the Government's] actions do not violate the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

According to Manning, such cases represent a critical problem in US society and raise the issue of the “level of secrecy, obfuscation, and classification or protective marking.” He argues that although the American government claims it is trying to protect the citizens of their nation, it is breeding “a unilateralism that the founders feared, and deliberately tried to prevent when drafting the American Constitution.”

“When the public lacks the ability to access what its government is doing, it ceases to be involved in the governing process,” said Manning, highlighting there is a line to be drawn between tyranny and freedom.

Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) was sentenced in August 2013 to 35 years in prison for 20 charges including espionage, theft and violating computer regulations. The charges relate to the 700,000-odd Iraq and Afghanistan battle reports he released to whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks, in 2010 while he was working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq.

The Sam Adams Prize was awarded to Manning “for casting much-needed daylight on the true toll and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq; human rights abuses by US and ‘coalition’ forces, mercenaries, and contractors; and the roles that spying and bribery play in international diplomacy.”

The award ceremony was held last month and Manning was awarded the prize in absentia, as he is currently incarcerated at Leavenworth Prison.

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