Canada dared call it treason.
American’s northern neighbor slammed the door on Chelsea (née Bradley) Manning when she tried to drive into Quebec last week. Canadian authorities blocked Manning “on grounds of serious criminality,” according to official records, “that would equate to an indictable offense, namely treason.”
Canada’s red light mocked the laurels and hearty welcomes offered to Manning since she waltzed out of the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth on May 17. Manning was feted like a conquering heroine in New York City’s gay-pride parade last June. This month’s Vogue magazine showcases Manning in a one-piece swimsuit, snapped by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. Manning will be a headliner at October’s New Yorker Festival. And Harvard recently named Manning a visiting fellow.
“She speaks on the social, technological and economic ramifications of Artificial Intelligence,” Harvard breathlessly announced. “As a trans woman, she advocates for queer and transgender rights as @xychelsea on Twitter.” Tragicomically, Harvard described Manning as “a Washington D.C. based network security expert.”
These plaudits are outrageous, given why Manning landed behind bars: In July 2013, Bradley Manning was convicted of 20 of 22 charges filed against him, including six violations of the Espionage Act of 1917.
Manning received “the stiffest punishment ever handed out in the U.S. for leaking to the media,” the Associated Press reported, “for spilling an unprecedented trove of government secrets.” This included “more than 700,000 classified military and diplomatic documents, plus battlefield footage, to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. By volume alone, it was the biggest leak of classified material in U.S. history, bigger even than the Pentagon Papers a generation ago.”
Manning was acquitted of “aiding the enemy.” Nonetheless, presiding judge Colonel Denise Lind ruled that Manning had “reason to believe the information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.” Further, Manning possessed “knowledge that intelligence published on the Internet was accessible to al Qaeda.” She added: “Manning’s conduct was of a heedless nature that made it actually and imminently dangerous to others. His conduct was both wanton and reckless.”
Canada’s red light mocked the laurels and hearty welcomes offered to Manning since she waltzed out of the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth on May 17.
Despite these high crimes, Obama granted Manning clemency, thereby slashing her 35-year prison term to seven years already served. It’s inconceivable that Obama would have spared Manning 80 percent of her sentence were she still named Bradley.
All of this has given intelligence experts fits.
“Senior leaders in our military have stated publicly that the leaks by Ms. Manning put the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk,” said former CIA acting director Michael Morrell. He resigned from Harvard’s Belfer Center on September 14, refusing to associate with an institution “that honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information.”
Chastened by the reaction to the emoluments that it presented to Manning, Harvard retreated.
“We are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow — and the perceived honor that it implies to some people,” Kennedy School of Government dean Douglas Elmendorf conceded the next day. “I apologize to her and to the many concerned people from whom I have heard today for not recognizing upfront the full implications of our original invitation.”
“As a Harvard graduate, I was especially offended by the honors bestowed on Chelsea Manning by the Kennedy School,” said Jefferson Adams, professor emeritus of history and international relations at Sarah Lawrence College. The author of Strategic Intelligence in the Cold War and Beyond continued: “When the dean started to backtrack and rescind the fellowship, he only compounded matters with his flimsy statements about diversity. It was radical chic in full display — and will not be forgotten soon.”
“Canada has done absolutely the right thing in refusing entry to Manning based on that individual’s previous conviction for espionage, and was correct in calling his/her actions ‘treason,’” Richard Valcourt, editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, tells me. “Manning is no hero, whistle-blower, or any variation thereof. Nor is Edward Snowden. Both belong in jail for having significantly endangered the security of the American people.”