Army Private First Class Chelsea Manning now walks relatively free from her cage after serving seven harrowing years at a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for leaking some 700,000 documents and files to Wikileaks — among them, video footage of U.S. Military service members annihilating twelve civilians, including two members of a Reuters news crew, with machine guns fired from an Apache helicopter in Baghdad in 2007.

“I can confirm Manning has been released from The United States Disciplinary Barracks, Ft. Leavenworth,” Army spokesperson Cynthia Smith affirmed in a statement this morning. “Based on privacy act restrictions there is nothing further I can provide at this time.”

Army officials confirmed to Buzzfeed Manning was released at 2 a.m., Central Time.

“I appreciate the wonderful support that I have received from so many people across the world over these past years,” the now-free whistleblower told ABC News in an exclusive statement after being released. “As I rebuild my life, I remind myself not to relive the past. The past will always affect me and I will keep that in mind while remembering that how it played out is only my starting point, not my final destination.”

Hours later, Manning added, in a second statement, “After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived. I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me, is far more important than the past. I’m figuring things out right now — which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me.”

Manning — who was just 22 years old when she began copying and funneling diplomatic cables and military intelligence information on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan — would have served 35 full years in prison, had former President Obama not commuted her sentence just three days before leaving office.

“Chelsea has already served the longest sentence of any whistleblower in the history of this country,” asserted Manning’s attorneys, Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward, in a previous statement. “It has been far too long, too severe, too draconian.


“President Obama’s act of commutation was the first time the military took care of this soldier who risked so much to disclose information that served the public interest.”

Now, Manning will be able to step away from confining prison walls and fully focus on “building her life,” as her ACLU attorney and transgender advocate, Chase Strangio, told NBC News previously. Speaking officially for the first time on plans after leaving Leavenworth, Manning proclaimed last week,

“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea. I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”

Strangio, a close confidante of Manning’s, spoke optimistically of the whistleblower’s release to NBC News:

“She is looking forward to eating pizza, swimming, playing PlayStation and meeting the many friends who have supported her over the years but who were never allowed to visit in person.

“Beyond that, she is waiting to experience life outside of prison before declaring any future plans. After so many years of government control over her body and gender, I know she is eager to grow her hair, express her gender and negotiate decisions on her own terms.”

As an intelligence analyst assigned to a unit in Iraq in 2009, Manning had access to classified information and databases. After leaking information she had compiled to Wikileaks, Manning confided in an online acquaintance, who then betrayed the trust to military counterintelligence.

She later acknowledged leaking the information to blow the whistle on the military’s questionable actions in the Middle East.

Manning had been convicted by court-martial in July 2013, for a smattering of offenses, including aiding the enemy — which could have garnered the death penalty — as well as violations of the nefarious Espionage Act, for disclosing the gargantuan cache of information, including diplomatic cables, as well as documents, files, and other U.S. military data, variously deemed classified or sensitive in nature.

Under conditions the whistleblower’s attorneys suggest were inhumane and even hostile, Manning twice attempted suicide while behind bars, in July and again in August last year, and then undertook a hunger strike in September, due to lack of treatment for gender dysphoria.

Those incidents spoke of her treatment as a whistleblower and likely contributed to Obama’s eleventh-hour decision to commute the soldier’s remaining 28 years.

If victory can be declared for the commutation, its consequent freedom must, unfortunately, be tempered by several conditions — both official and unofficial — as Manning will undoubtedly be subjected to intensive surveillance and scrutinized for the most minute misbehavior.

Manning is still an active duty soldier in the U.S. Army — having been placed on voluntary excess leave, rather than discharged — and, as such, could be swiftly and relentlessly punished for the slightest violation, despite technically being considered free.

“Chelsea is still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ),” David Coombs, Manning’s military defense attorney, who last had contact with her in February, told NBC News. “She wouldn’t be charged again for the same offenses, but if she committed a new crime, the military would still have jurisdiction over her.”

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As NBC points out, the release of previously unreleased classified information or even a simple fistfight could land Manning in fresh and stale hot water — but, worse, the military could pursue re-imprisonment should the whistleblower say or write the wrong thing.

“You would want to be careful in terms of what you want to write or say if you’re still under military control,” Coombs explained. “Let’s say you write something critical, now you run the real chance of being called on the carpet for that.”

According to reports, Manning will be on Active duty indefinitely, until all her court ties are resolved. As the Kansas City Star reports:

“The Army has no choice” until still-unresolved appeals of her 2013 conviction run their course, said Eric L. Mayer, who practices military law in Overland Park but is not connected to the Manning case.


Only when appeals are exhausted — and that might include petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court — can military command “approve what I suspect will be a dishonorable discharge,” Mayer said. Such action would end Army privileges and prevent Manning from drawing on future veterans’ benefits.

Because the content of documents she leaked was classified and sensitive in nature — or because it painted the U.S. military such a heinous light — Manning garnered furious criticism from a number of politicians, including President Trump, who tweeted of her mere days before being inaugurated,

“TRAITOR … who should never have been released from prison.”

“Chelsea Manning’s treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets,” House Speaker Paul Ryan bloviated on, what he termed, the “outrageous” news Obama would commute her remaining sentence.

Eagerness to see the young soldier imprisoned for the full 35 years, in other words, abounds — but is far from a unanimous sentiment in the United States.

It should be noted no unassailable proof exists that anything Wikileaks has published has ever placed a military or Intelligence Community member in grave or fatal danger — a fact the organization repeatedly declares as a condition when evaluating information in deciding whether certain documents must be withheld.

Heralded as a beacon of integrity in a military repeatedly embroiled in shameful scandals by some and harpooned as an outright traitor by others, what Manning will face outside prison walls remains to be seen. Her cruel and difficult time served, however, has made Chelsea an icon of the transparency and human rights movements.

It has become standard practice — thanks to efficacious nationalist propaganda — for the American public to excoriate those who call out governmental corruption, be they journalists, insiders, or others sounding the alarm.

However, considering the astounding scope of wrongdoing evinced in leak after leak — and how frequently that misbehavior ignores the U.S. Constitution, makes a mockery of ethics, and outright tramples human rights — whistleblowers could arguably be the last bastion of albeit forced transparency into the system’s gory inner workings.

Without Manning and a host of other whistleblowing heroes — a term this writer employs unabashedly — the pompous lawlessness running rampant in every arm of the U.S. government might still be unknown, at all our peril.

Chelsea Manning — who, upon sentencing, apologized for “hurting the U.S.,” and lamented she had only wanted to “change the world for the better” — should never have been locked in a cage.

Rather, she should be lionized for pulling the gloves off the Pentagon’s embarrassingly blood-stained hands.

Claire Bernish began writing as an independent, investigative journalist in 2015, with works published and republished around the world. Not one to hold back, Claire’s particular areas of interest include U.S. foreign policy, analysis of international affairs, and everything pertaining to transparency and thwarting censorship. To keep up with the latest uncensored news, follow her on Facebook or Twitter: @Subversive_Pen.
  • Damiana

    At least on active duty, she gets to collect a paycheck and benefits!

    • permalink

      No paycheck while on active duty “excess leave”, just military medical benefits, commissary and PX shopping privileges.

      • Damiana

        That means not having to pay sales tax and being able to see a doctor IMMEDIATELY without having to do the VA Shuffle. It’s still something for which to be grateful.

        • permalink

          “not having to pay sales tax and being able to see a doctor IMMEDIATELY”

          The “tax advantages” are generally only on “name brand” goods. Shopping
          at the local discount store (Target or Walmart) is a better deal, IMHO. I do
          use the Class IV (on base liquor store) once in awhile…

          Obviously you have never experienced “military medical care”.

          I wouldn’t expect much better treatment from the VA either. As I am entitled to “military and/or VA” care, if I have a health issue/ problem I go to my local clinic and pay whatever bill they send me. It is cheaper in “time spent” on endless redtape functions and bureaucrats.

          • Guy

            Sorry perhaps I am just being *Thick* But what the hell is your point ?

        • Anonymous

          Military medical care? What’s that?

          VA benefits? Oh yes, the benefit to die while waiting to see your VA doctor.

          • Damiana

            I wasn’t comparing it to good medical care – just suggesting that it’s probably better than nothing at all.

          • Anonymous

            She won’t get any VA benefits. When her appeals are all done, the Army plans to dishonorable discharge her. So, ANY veterans benefits she would be entitled to otherwise…are GONE.

            Actually, you get better care from medicaid medical care than you get from the VA. We know people in both systems, and there is no comparison.

  • Guy

    I make no apologies or pretend at one for my following statement; Figuring that here at least, all are entitled to their own opinion whether it’s particularly liked or not. Considering the site is called *Free Thought*!

    Call it what you will. I still call it a *Traitor To Our Country* And A *Insult To The Men & Women Who Wear The Uniform*! As such putting there lives on the line every day, so we can sit here on our computers pounding away, as free Men and Women, rather than speaking Russian, Chinese, German, or made into a Lamp Shades !

    Perhaps you agree with Obama’s pardon of this person, I don’t and never will, with the knowlage that friends, relatives and family members did not come home safe and sound, but in a box as the results of their sacrifice, so we can have and be what we are today, and even thouse like Manning, can breath free air while in prison for it’s crimes against our Country !

    For what it did of nearly wrecking our Country, while selling us out to the highest bidder in the media and Wikileaks, some how equates to the status of being some sort of demented whistleblower, causing people to want to put it on a shelf for admiration and hero worship, in my estimation makes them sick puppies. Who I think are similar to the anarchist in the streets, burning cars, trashing storekeepers buildings to burn and preventing people the right to free speech at College Universities, because they might like the sounds of it !

    It put on a uniform and took a oath to defend our Country. It gave up thouse rights and broke the oath it swore, when it committed treason against it, no matter if it “Apologize” or not, or it wanted to “Make The World A Better Place”

    Me ? I guess I’am some sort of patriot, and fortune for it, not it’s judge ! Otherwise it would be rotting in a hole in the ground or shot ! Not collecting a paycheck with benefits.

    • Anonymous

      “It should be noted no unassailable proof exists that anything Wikileaks has published has ever placed a military or Intelligence Community member in grave or fatal danger — a fact the organization repeatedly declares as a condition when evaluating information in deciding whether certain documents must be withheld.”

      No one was harmed as a result. The lack of accountability that existed was the only victim of her disclosures.

      • Guy

        That is the quoted dogma that is to believed by thouse who say it as fact, namely Wikileaks.
        If true or not that nobody has died or been put in *Grave Danger* is disputable at best, considering the source of the leaked information and supplyer was Manning, and highly doubtful that Wikileaks would ever admit that there was harm to individuals as the result. With them knowing what would happen to there reputations and the guy hiding out in a foreign embassy, if there was.

        The fact that our Country was harmed for the disclosure, as Manning while in uniform, was the supplyer of the information, is high treason in my book ! And not a reason to let it go after serving only 7 years.


        • Anonymous

          So, when our troops commit war crimes, exposing them is a treason. Ok. Got it!

          • Guy

            If you want to say our troops while in battle committed war crimes, while having no direct proof of it , other than hearsay, that’s your prerogative. Just like the kids in the streets burning shops and causing mischief are not really being Anarchist, but misunderstood youths, who are just being passionate over their feelings of frustration and upset at the status quo ! While shouting down speakers who try to speak offering a different viewpoint. But then will scream bloody murder how their rights are being infringed on, when they are hauled off !

          • Anonymous

            Let’s see. Shooting unarmed people? No, no war crime there, right? Torturing prisoners? Nothing criminal about that either, right?

            Our military history is FULL of war crimes. But, then, again, Me Lai never happened, right?

          • Guy

            Pick a side, then decide if there are crimes against humanity or not ! I’am pretty sure what the answer will be. Never said we are the good guy’s in the white hat’s either. I just don’t believe what this particular lying sack of shit has said, just like I don’t believe what 99.99% of the Alphabet New’s stations broadcast as truth either ! Easy to point fingers and stir the pot so people get pissed off, thinking that Trump is worse than Adolf Hitler, so they forget about the 300 pound Gorilla in the room, who is stealing your money, killing your kids selling legalized heroin for a profit too, all while slaughtering 15 yr old’s out on a joy ride in a hot car ! We are being told that God Is On Our Side ! Fuck the noise ! I’ll decide for myself ! And not have a *IT* in a uniform, try to convince me of it , or some guy hiding out in a foreign embassy either. Me Lai Happened, so did fire balling little Vietnamese girls and Ruby Ridge, Kent State, Waco Tx and Jonestown Guyana ! Wait five minutes, there will be another one PDQ !

          • Anonymous

            Good, we are glad you realize that our military has done some serious war crimes.

            It isn’t about who said it, it’s about the evidence. It’s all about the evidence. And we see in the video, shooting of unarmed civilians, including war correspondents. The military was embarrassed by this. That is why they refused to release the video. The people have a right to know. The only reason why they “classified” the video was because it was embarrassing. This is no different than the police department that says “we investigated ourselves and found we did no wrong.” Well…that IS exactly what the military said. Those guys were just ITCHING to shoot people. They WANTED to shoot. There was no interest in finding out who was innocent. EVERYONE WAS GUILTY. It was the old “shoot them all and let God sort them out” kind of mentality.

          • Guy

            Ever since I got shot and gassed in Berkeley, over a Park that I helped build, and A War Fought For Profits, while we busily Napalmed Whole Villages and little girls. I knew then the jig was up ! Or Country was being run by a corrupted Corporation Government, who was more interested in Wall Street and Political Votes For Power, than it’s people, that our police’s only real interest was, if we toed the line or not ! No different that in the late1800’s, when it was about the Indians being exterminated over the land, that was full of mineral wealth they wanted to get their hands on, so the railroads could operate on time. Creating Manifest Destiny And Western Expansion, While God Was On Our Side !

            I knew it then 50 years ago, just like I know it now 50 years later ! If you need video proof of what goes on in times of Peace & War ? That is your cross to bear, but commend you in spreading the news to the sleeping masses ! We, (my generation) woke up a long time ago, and helped to get a war ended, and a park for the People Built in Berkley! Perhaps Now it’s your turn !
            Although we didn’t need then, a guy in a dress or someone hiding in Embassies to do it for us ! We did it ourselves, because it was the right thing to do, and we were not going to be told NO, SHUT UP, SIT DOWN AND GO HOME !

          • Mr. Wrestling III

            No proof? Watch the video above, Guy. It shows war crimes plain as day. They murdered journalists and civilians.

          • Anonymous

            No, that makes her a traitor. How DARE she expose the wrong doings of our unassailable soldiers. Photos and videos are nothing more than hearsay as far as he’s concerned.

          • Guy

            Yes it does make it a traitor. Too bad you fail in seeing that ! The rest is just bull shit, desighned to distract you from the real reality, that it is, and was, and always will be to a lot of us, who fought and died for no more than the concept of being ALLOWED TO NAME NAMES ! While dropping it’s uniform off, putting on a friggin dress, and claiming mental issues !

            Tell that to the guy’s and gals coming back from Iraq with no arms or legs, convince them you’re right and we are wrong ! But first, check you have a nice soft place to land on, after you get your light punched out !

          • Anonymous

            No. It does NOT make her a traitor at all. We are a country that despises war crimes. When others commit them we condemn them. So we should expect the same when our people commit them.

            We aren’t against the military, and we aren’t against the police…just the ones who do wrong. The wrong doers need to be held accountable, or we are no better than Hitler.

          • Guy

            That is until Russia and China Block The Vote ! Same thing when A Judge slaps a cop’s hand, or the DA shops a grand jury, or not even bothers to bring charges against the cops !

          • Guy

            Oh Really !!! That’s Nice !!!

          • permalink

            All is fair in love and war…

            …How many times in YOUR lifetime have you had to make a SNAP decision under stressful situations?

          • Anonymous

            Actually, many times. But that is why you have something called “due diligence.” When it is a matter of life and death, you do NOT have the luxury of making SNAP decisions.

        • Mr. Wrestling III

          She exposed that our military and government had committed war crimes. She’s a hero. She did the right thing.

          • Guy

            Any half witted idiot, can expect crimes against humanity will be committed by both side in any conflict. Ever since Ugg the caveman, bashed the other one in the head for his chance at the food, it’s been going on.

            So what if Manning or Wilkie Leaks supposedly has exsposed, us to be bad guy’s, big freaking deal ! We have bombed hospitals too. We deny and so does everyone else. Have you ever heard Russia admit to anything, even when caught with giving the missile system to the rebels, so to shoot down domestic airplanes, they tell you *it ain’t so * !!!!

            If you want to call a (IT) in a dress and a guy hiding out in a embassy Hero’s, while swallowing their swill as whole truth ! I guess that’s your business. It’ s mine to call you silly and naive ! I prefer to worry and try to do something about what is going on right here at home, in our schools and streets. Maybe I can do something about that. As to the rest, Eh !

          • Anonymous

            “…crimes against humanity will be committed by both side in any conflict.”

            Yes, but, we say we hold our people accountable.

          • Guy

            *Smoke & Mirrors* my friend ! It’s always about the *Smoke & Mirrors.*
            Being the doubting Thomas that I am. I don’t believe that, any more than pigs can fly ! As to what we say we will (our country) do, than what we actually do ! Using the example of Spicer, standing at the podium farting into Reporters Faces, who seem to be hanging onto every word he farts ! Or that Police, what to be seen as *Transparent Community Minded Bridge Builders Being Held Accountable.* When in actuality, It’s Yeah !? Until we get caught, because we know the DA, is our BUDDY, so is the grand jury, and !!! OUR JUDGE !

          • Anonymous

            Of course…and how did it get to this? Because WE THE PEOPLE allowed it to. WE THE PEOPLE need to be the ones to take our country back. WE THE PEOPLE need to say “we’re mad as hell about this and we aren’t going to take it anymore!” Are we doing that en masse? You tell us! WE THE PEOPLE need to do it, not wait for “the next president who will do it.” WE need to do it. How? Start writing letters to the DA. If the DA gets enough grief, he’ll do something. Remember THE DA IS ELECTED!!! So, if he finds his electorate will vote him out of office, he’ll do something other than sit on his hands and let this shit continue.

          • Guy

            We The People, Mr. Anonymous ! Are too damn busy playing on Iphones, making monthly car payments for BMW’s, and planning their Extreme Vacations ! To even bother with looking up enough to see what is happening in their own backyard, or concerned enough to raise a eyebrow. Why do you think they care about what is going on half a world away, or who is doing what to whom ? The only way you will get their attention is setting off a Nuke in N.Korea, or Downtown Manhattan Island, and that will only hold their interest for about 24 hrs.

            Na ! My friend. You will have to do better than that, to shake em out of their complacency enough to get em pissed off and hopping mad over it. So as to be enough to do something about it. We had a movement in the mid and late 60’s, that shook the Nation to it’s core, enough to make folks listen all the way to the W.H. It took years, (actually about 5) to make the change we wanted, brought on by constant agitation, protest and pressure 24/7. We were not going away or sitting down, except when we sat in the streets and flipped em off !

            I thought you almost had it a few years ago, over the wall street protest, then again more recently in the fall at the time of pre-elections. The spark was lit, ready to ignite THE PEOPLE ! But it went out ! What happened ? Why did you quit ?


            It is about free Americans, feeling the mind numbing oppression of the Government’s Control and Oppression Over Us In Every Facet Of Our Lives ! While being cheated and lied too, so Corporate America can make the big bucks, a war in Syria, Iraq, and the mid-east and africa, can rage, with soon N. Korea, perhaps even Russia ! While we should be vacant in our thought and feelings, just happy enough to buy cheap knock off toys from china. And God Bless Wall Street, Amazon, K-Mart, Big Pharma And Oil Enough To Make Our Cars Move !

            As to DA’s ? They are all as crooked as a bad road, worth one election cycle, then out with the old and in with the “New Boss” !

          • Anonymous

            It has gotten US hopping mad.

            “too damn busy playing on Iphones, making monthly car payments for BMW’s, and planning their Extreme Vacations !” You hit the nail right on the head. It’s all about distractions.

            We understand that. We run a business. We MAKE time. For far too many Anons, being Anonymous is something to do on the 5th of November. Just being Anonymous one day a year isn’t enough. Like you said, we almost had it with the Occupy movement. Trust us, some of us ARE trying to keep it going!!!

          • Guy

            So if you are not just blowing smoke, perhaps I can help. as long as I believe you are, who I think you truly represent ! If not, then take a hike!

  • Ran-rex

    jesus. JUST KICK HER OUT AND BE DONE WITH IT> I guess when you sign on the dotted line the army really does own you for life. Can the army just LEAVE HER ALONE AND MOVE ON.

  • Ran-rex

    also Id liie to comment on the fact that this raw gritty visceral website has JCPENNY ads and beer ads at the bottom that won’t go away. wow what a revolutionary website that sticks it to the man

  • john smith

    he is dead
    this is hogwash
    ill believe it when i see it