Why Chelsea Manning Doesn't Want No Stinkin' Peace Prize

In a letter released Wednesday, WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning expressed her disappointment that a peace prize was accepted on her behalf without her knowledge. Manning does not consider herself a pacifist and felt that she had been “left out of the loop” on the decision to have retired Army colonel and peace activist Ann Wright receive the Sean MacBride Peace Prize on her behalf. Manning had no knowledge of the presentation or acceptance of the award.

Chelsea Manning is currently serving a 35-year sentence at a military prison for releasing 700,000 classified military documents to WikiLeaks, an online publisher of secret information. Shortly after receiving her sentence, then Bradley Manning publicly came out  as transgender and transitioned to life as a woman.

Despite the considerable press surrounding both the trial and subsequent announcements, this letter is one of the more comprehensive statements on Manning’s politics. In it Manning describes herself as a “transparency advocate.” She explained, “I feel that the public cannot decide what actions and policies are justified if they don’t even know the most rudimentary details about them and their effect.

However, Manning does not consider herself a “pacifist,” “anti-war,” or a “conscientious objector.” While she recognizes that her actions might be seen as promoting peace, that is a subjective interpretation of the documents she released. From Manning’s perspective the same documents could lead to the opposite interpretation. It is for this reason that Manning is not clear that her actions “were explicitly done for ‘peace.’”

Ultimately the chief point of Manning’s letter was to express that her concern that the public had misconceptions about her politics. As she was unaware of the award, she did not participate in the decision to accept it. Therefore, she believes that it would have been dishonest to not make a public statement about her lack of awareness.

Read the full letter.

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Caitlin Bancroft

is an abortion rights activist. She has a B.A. in Political Science from Saint Louis University and is pursuing her J.D. at The George Washington University Law School. When she's not yelling at her textbooks, she likes to swim and take part in the capital’s vibrant feminist scene. You can share her never-ceasing pro-choice outrage on libertytochoose.tumblr.com.

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