Planning For This Year’s World-Wide Hackathon on November 5th

Chelsea Manning has taken a special interest in participating in this year’s Aaron Swartz Day Hackathons.

This year’s focus, as always, will be SecureDrop, but with a new focus on applying post-quantum cryptography to secure communications, and improving the algorithms used to make them stronger against post-quantum attacks.

As Chelsea explains herself in a blog post this morning:

It’s important to keep our encryption safe in the post-quantum world. Luckily, you don’t need to be a quantum math or quantum computer expert in order to be able design stronger algorithms to protect our current encryption methods against quantum attacks. These algorithms are classical, and don’t require any kind of complex understanding of anything quantum. We can let the PhDs deal with that.

I am putting together a collection of materials on this topic, and I thought perhaps we could all explore this together during this year’s Aaron Swartz Day Hackathons.

Using SageMath, an open source python-like mathematics software system, I am hoping to start things off with a generic construct that anyone can easily start working from.

I’ll be putting up pages soon for the different participating cities. Please write me at lisa(at)lisarein.com if you’re putting on a hackathon in your town, and I’ll make a page for it here that you can populate accordingly, as your event develops.

I’m lining up some incredible speakers for San Francisco, and I’ll make sure they get questions from all the hackathoners participating all over the world.

Chelsea is putting together some materials that I will be distributing to everyone a few months before the hackathon, to get us all ramped up. This isn’t like the year 2000 problem –> there’s no ticking time bomb yet, as far as we know. (Although when advances are made, they will undoubtedly happen quickly :) To be clear:  We’re approaching this problem way before it gets to that point.

That’s the whole point of starting this conversation now in our community, while it’s still a fun thing we have lots of time to prepare for, so it’s not only huge government institutions and multi-national corporations that have a handle on the implications of this technology.

Also, rest assured, there will be lots of other things to work on if post-quantum cryptography isn’t your bag. But I encourage you to please not write it off yet, as it’s a lot of fun to think about hypothetically, even if you are not a programmer. (Boy was I relieved to find that out when Chelsea started down this path :-)

Transcript: Amnesty International’s “In Their Own Words” podcast with Chelsea Manning

Special Thanks to Amnesty International UK, who graciously provided me with a production script while preparing this verbatim transcript.

chelsea_large croppedAmnesty International UK – In Their Own Words: Chelsea Manning

Host Anna Bacciarelli:  Okay so, today’s episode is a bit different. You’re about to hear the story of the world’s most notorious whistleblowers, from her perspective. But you won’t hear her voice. You can’t. This woman isn’t allowed to talk to us because right now she’s in a high security military prison. She serving 35 years for the biggest leak of military information in U.S. history. She’s just 28 years old, but she’s already endured months in military confinement, and is due to spend her adult life, in prison. Her name is Chelsea Manning.

Let’s rewind to 2009 for a second. Chelsea, or as she was then known, Private Bradley Manning, was serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq as a military analyst. Disturbed by some of the actions of U.S. forces and their allies, Chelsea made a decision that would have huge consequences. It would see her imprisoned, isolated, and sacrificing decades of her future. She blew the whistle.

Today, Chelsea will tell you about who she is as a person, what she’s been through, and what her life is like now.

You’re listening to “In Their Own Words,” a podcast series from Amnesty International that aims to get behind the headlines and hear from iconic human rights activists first hand. Since Chelsea’s in military prison, barred from recording with us, actress Michelle Hendley is lending Chelsea her voice for this episode.

I consider my home to be in the D.C. suburbs of Maryland—that’s Potomac, Rockville, Bethesda, and Silver Spring. But, Crescent, Oklahoma is the town that I lived in when I was very young.

Crescent is a very small town—probably hovering either just above or below a thousand people for the last thirty or so years. Right down the middle of it, there is about a mile or so long Main Street with a few old original Victorian era buildings – either occupied by businesses or abandoned—on either side of it. The rest of the town is—and has been for as long as I can remember—mostly just streets with small houses or trailers. There are also a lot of churches—and I do mean a lot—I wouldn’t dare try and give you an estimate as to the number.

The people of Crescent are often very friendly. Most of the people that lived there when I was growing up had been there for most of their lives. I would say that it was not uncommon for there to be kids – and sometimes even adults—who had never left the state of Oklahoma. It’s really just another one of those stereotypical “everybody knows everybody else”—kind of towns that crisscross the whole mid-western portion of the United States—the portions that people—like myself, sometimes—call the “flyover” territory between the coasts.

My life was pretty rough. We lived in a small two-story house about three or so miles northwest of the center of Crescent. For about half of my time there, I lived with both my parents and my sister. After my sister graduated school in the mid-90s, she moved out—coming back occasionally to live for short periods of time. My father traveled a lot— mostly business trips for the international company he worked for. So, for a lot of my childhood—I spent time either with my sister or my mother. Unfortunately, both my parents drank heavily—and they could both get erratic and abusive. My sister helped me with that a lot though. She was a great role model for me at a difficult time.

I didn’t have a lot of options and opportunities for interaction with people growing up—so I naturally gravitated to computers because they were available to me when my mother was drunk, or my father was away, or when my sister wasn’t at the house. I think my father allowed me on the computers as a replacement for him. So, I used them as a kind of babysitter and parent—something to do without another person available.

By 1997—when I was nine and ten years old—I was exploring the internet a lot more, and began to hard code my own websites and put up useless information and facts on them. This was around about the time that I started using IRC chat rooms and began to communicate with other people on the Internet for the first time as well—I was driven by a combination of curiosity and loneliness more than anything else.

I remember not having anyone available to help me with my feelings. Like, when I was about eight, I confessed to a school counselor that I didn’t know why I wanted to play with the girls, or play games like hopscotch or… whatever. I felt lonely and strange and I needed support. But, she didn’t know what to do or say other than something along the lines of “boys are different than girls” and “girls do these things while boys do these other things.” It was like there was nothing in-between.

I didn’t understand what was going on at all. I didn’t have words to describe it. I just remember crying a lot and feeling weird. I felt like a freak.

Other kids would pick up on things that I didn’t quite understand. They would tease me a lot. “Hey, girly boy.” “You’re so faggy.” “You talk like a girl.” “You walk like a little girl.” “You cry a lot.” “You’re so gay.” It was a constant reminder of how different I was, and how little I understood the way people perceived me.

I spent a lot of time trying to get into my sister’s room. There was an arms race with locks. First she installed a hook and latch to keep me from opening the door. But, I would just get a stick to lift it up. She raised it, so I just got a bigger stick. Then she put on a simple lock—so I learned how to pick it. Then I remember dad put an actual door lock on—and I struggled for weeks to pick that lock. Eventually, though I figured out how to get in.

There wasn’t a whole lot to it, really. I would just play with her old toys—like Barbie dolls from the 1980s, and played with her clothing and stuff. I remember how neat and tidy she kept the room, and I wanted to be able to decorate my own room like she did. It was a very typical setup for a teenager in the early 1990s. She had a Rubik’s cube and a lava lamp and black and white polka dot sheets. I played in her acid-washed jeans and leather jacket.

By the time I was about fifteen I was in a spiral of denial. I was struggling a lot. So, I would choose to ignore it. But, I couldn’t ignore it. I would spend weeks ignoring these feelings—and then splurge on them. I lived in Southwest Wales in the U.K. back then, and I would buy makeup and girl’s clothes at a thrift store—sneaking around like a kid trying to buy cigarettes or alcohol underage. I would wear the stuff for a bit and then throw it into a trash bag and throw it in a dumpster down the street in the orange glow of the street lights on misty nights. Then I would repeat the cycle a few weeks later.

My inner thoughts were just unhealthy—internalized repeats of the taunts and bad advice from earlier in my life. You’re a freak. Nobody loves you. You’re such a girly weirdo. Man up. These were tough times for me, certainly.

I started talking to my friends before I moved to Wales from Oklahoma. I was mostly just asking questions like—is it normal for me to feel like I am a girl, or that I feel attracted to guys? Does anyone else feel compelled to wear girls’ clothing on occasions? But, it would end in disaster for me. People would be shocked by the questions—and I would suffer the consequences of my honesty in the rumors and slander that I would hear in school in the days following. I would deny everything and go into hiding for a couple of weeks until everybody forgot.

So, it turns out that these reactions would keep me in the closet for a very long time—especially for people who were the closest to me. But, when I was more anonymous—online, or far away from home in a city or while traveling on the train or a bus—then, I felt more comfortable to be honest, and to explore my identity.

I could be anyone I wanted to be online. The rules of the world didn’t seem to apply. In that era you identified yourself as a handle and your “ASL” – age, sex, and location. You didn’t have to be honest. I could be 16, female, and from Houston, Texas—or I could be 24, male, and from London, England. It required a lot of imagination—and a discipline for creating consistency if you were trying to be convincing to an online crowd. I was more myself than I could ever be “IRL”—in real life—as it was described online.

I was running away from the world that I lived in and experienced every day. I often felt like a stranger, or like an observer in my daily life. Sitting in my room, at night, illuminated by the light of the monitor in the dark I felt like I could type my innermost thoughts and feelings to people that I didn’t know, in a completely made up universe. It was a universe where you could be anyone that you ever wanted to be. It was both a fascinating and liberating experience for me growing up.

Although there wasn’t a huge trans community presence on the internet yet—during the early 2000s searching the term “transgender” would still get you a lot of pornography sites—but there was a thriving gay community which I was able to identify with and feel at home talking to. I made a lot of friends online. These were people who I knew very intimately even without knowing their names or what they looked like. The early internet was a very powerful anonymizer.

The first time I passed as a woman in public was while I was on leave from my deployment to Iraq, in 2010. I was dressed in a casual gray business suit jacket and skirt with a white blouse, black tights and a faded purple coat—it was really cold outside – and business shoes. I just kind of wandered about in public. I went to coffee shops and book stores and just tried to blend in as a bored woman looking for something interesting to do.

And, I was amazed at how much it worked, and how human and normal that it felt for me. I didn’t have the confidence before, and never would have done such a thing before I deployed to the combat zone of Iraq. But, I felt that it went pretty amazing. I was very disappointed to have to leave.

After leaving the U.K. in 2005, I moved in with my father and his new wife at the time. I was starting to explore my sexuality like a normal teenager should. But, his wife really didn’t like me and we had many disputes, and she didn’t like the fact that I even existed. After she called the police on me, I left the house and didn’t really have anywhere to go. So, I borrowed my father’s small red pickup truck and wandered around the Midwest for a few months and settled in Chicago for the summer.

It was a very annoying experience for me. I had no resources available to me. Volunteer homeless shelters were very anti-gay and anti-trans and required you to attend prayer ceremonies so I avoided those. I ended up sleeping in the truck a lot.

Every other night I would wake up with a flashlight in my face. I would squint at a police officer or a sheriff’s deputy with the red and blue flashing lights of a police car behind them.

Sometimes they would start yelling at me, pulling me out of the car. They would yell things like “Don’t move freak!” or “Give me a reason to shoot you, scumbag!” I would sometimes sit in handcuffs behind me on the curb of a street, or the dewy grass of a drainage ditch and get questioned on whether I had any warrants out for my arrest, or if I had drugs, or if I was soliciting for prostitution, or—whatever… I was just a street kid to them. But, after every time of harassment – whether minutes or hours – they would let me go. I expected to go to jail for something eventually, but I didn’t. Unfortunately, it’s a typical experience for many queer and trans youth even today.

I was really starting to struggle with my gender identity in the spring of 2007—and I even started seeing a therapist to talk about it, but I never had the courage to talk to her about my struggle. I was very lonely and afraid.

The war in Iraq was entering the troop “surge” that summer, and it was on television every night. I started to wonder about whether or not I could make a difference if the war kept spiraling out of control. I felt like my country needed me, and so I started asking my father about how to enlist in the military. He recommended I talk to a Navy or Air Force recruiter—but I wasn’t interested in joining either the Navy or the Air Force.

But, when I came home from work at night and watched the evening news, I saw all of these soldiers running around Baghdad and Basra, Iraq, and I felt that more ground forces were what the military really needed. I also felt that maybe the Army would “man” me up, so to speak, by instilling certain expectations on me so that I would be more masculine. So, I started talking to an Army recruiter and signed up. After saying some quick and emotional goodbyes to my family, I officially enlisted in the Army on the first day of October 2007, and reported to basic training the next morning.

I hoped that I could help to bring as many of the soldiers that were sent to Iraq and Afghanistan home, and to protect the civilians that were stuck living in these countries at the time. I felt that maybe if I did my job really well, I could really maximize our ability to know and understand insurgencies and conducting counterinsurgency strategies to speed things up. I was pretty hopeful that we could still make a difference there.

During the first week of training, one of the drill sergeants who inventoried my personal belongings made comments about my phone. It was a bold, fuchsia tone of hot pink that I loved. It never occurred to me not to bring it with me. It was pretty humiliating for me among the other recruits for a couple of days before training went on as normal.

My role as an all-source intelligence analyst was to take all of the various types of information—what might sometimes get called “raw intelligence”—that get gathered from different sources—or “disciplines”—such as interrogation reports, or observation reports, or intercepted communications, or satellite imagery, and to look at each different type and combine them together to produce reports or— all too often – slide shows.

While I was deployed I worked between 12 to 14 hours a day every day of the week—without any full days off. I also worked the night shift most of the time I was in Iraq, this was when most of the logistics, training and combat operations would happen, so it would be busy with a lot of pressure on us throughout the shift. There would often be forty to a hundred e-mails for me to go through each night—very intense and high stakes.

My time off was short, but I would often have trouble sleeping—especially with the sun beaming outside and the constant roar of generators and people passing by my trailer. I often spent a lot of my time online with my laptop—when I could get a decent internet connection, of course. I also listened to a lot of music. I didn’t talk to very many people after a while. I was really starting to struggle with the weight of people dying around me every day, and trying to fit into this projected persona of being a “man.” I was very anxious and often depressed.

I was inundated with all these numbers and reports and coordinates and names and pictures! It became overwhelming after a while. At some point, the work that I did stopped feeling like an abstract and intellectual chore, and began to become very real. These were real people living in real places. When we made mistakes planning operations, innocent people died. When we failed to see the small scale and the big picture as being connected, then our operations wouldn’t flow very well and innocent people would get caught up in detention for weeks or years because of a minor mistake that we made.

It often became a burden for me when we made mistakes or overlooked things like the Iraqi government detaining people under false pretenses, and torturing their citizens because they wanted to make an example. A part of me still takes their suffering personally.

Audio: Voice of Amy Goodman on ‘Democracy Now’ from an April 6th 2010 news bulletin:

“The US Military has confirmed the authenticity of newly released video showing US forces indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians.

On Monday the website WikiLeaks.org posted footage taken from a US military helicopter in July 2007 as it killed 12 people and wounded 2 children. The voices on the tape appear to believe their targets are carrying weapons, but the footage unmistakably shows some of the victims holding camera equipment. The dead included two employees of the Reuters news agency.

The pentagon has never publicly released the footage and has previously cleared those involved of wrong-doing. WikiLeaks says it managed to de-encrypt the tape after receiving it from a confidential source inside the military who wanted the story to be known.”

The consequences did feel very vague at the time. A discharge from the military sounded bad. A couple of years in prison sounded like a lifetime to me then. I expected the worst possible outcomes, but I didn’t have a strong or concrete sense of what that might have entailed.

In the abstract, I expected to be demonized and scrutinized. I expected to have every moment of my life examined for every single possible screw up that I’ve ever made, for every flaw and blemish that I have, and to have them be used against me in the court of public opinion. I was especially afraid that my gender identity would be used against me and other people who suffered like I did. Looking back, I think that my fears were based in reality.

Host Anna Bacciarelli: Chelsea was arrested by the US Army’s Criminal investigation team on May 27th 2010. Four days later, she was transferred to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, where she would spend the next two months in solitary confinement.

I didn’t have any clue how I would be treated. At first everything seemed pretty normal. I was living with other people in a tent for a couple of days. It wasn’t until I was placed in maximum custody in what was basically this large metal cage within a tent that things really got bad. I expected to be treated like any other military prisoner or detainee would be—with dignity and respect, I had no reason to expect otherwise until I was transferred to the cage.

It was very hot, and it was dark in the tent. I remember you couldn’t tell if it was day or night outside. The facility operated 24/7 so only the meals would give you a hint as to what time it was. Eventually, it all became a blur. It’s difficult to for me to explain in any detail.

My memory of that time is very foggy. It’s all blended together as a really personal mess.

Being alone in that tent for hours on end without having any access to the outside world, I was left without any Idea of what was going on anywhere. I barely knew what month it was, or how long I had been there. I hadn’t started talking regularly to an attorney yet, and I didn’t even know what I was being charged with, exactly, either.

After a few weeks of living in this mental blur—I began to become entirely dependent on the staff that came to watch me and deliver food to me. They were my only connection to the outside world. But, they were not very talkative or reliable – at least in retrospect. My mind was very malleable and I was susceptible to believing all kinds of things because I didn’t have any other information. So—if a guard told me that I was going to be transferred to a ship off the coast of the horn of Africa, it made sense to me and I totally believed it was possible. I had no idea if the rest of the world knew where I was, or where I was going. Anything could have happened.

When I arrived at Marine Corps Base Quantico I was basically subjected to the same conditions that I was in Kuwait—except it was a permanent, air-conditioned building in Virginia. After being there for a couple of days I was allowed to have visitors which was very helpful to catching up on what had happened in the two or three months prior.

I lived in a small 8 by 6 feet Cell—roughly 2.5 by 2 meters. I was in a cell-block with a bunch of other cells that were all empty. I was not allowed to talk to anyone else – even though there wasn’t anybody near me. There were at least two Marines that watched me from behind a one-way reflective glass window at all times. I could see myself in the reflection of the window all day long. It was like a mirror right outside my cell.

I was not allowed to have anything in my cell that I wasn’t actually using. I would turn in most of my clothes at night. If I wanted to use the toilet, I had to ask for toilet paper, and I would have to return it when I was done. It was the same with toothbrushes, books, and sometimes even my glasses. I was not allowed to lie down or sleep during the duty day from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. I was only allowed to sit up straight on my bed and literally stare at the wall for hours on end. I was sometimes allowed to watch television during the evening, but I had no control over what was on. Even then, Marines would monitor what I was watching, and would change the channel when anything like news or current events shows would come on.

The entire experience was such a surreal nightmare—it just seemed comical to me. I mean, it was just an incredibly crazy experience. It just seems that you have to have a sense of humor in these kinds of situations, or else you won’t be able to cope with painful or emotionally complicated situations.

I viewed the junior enlisted Marines who watched me and escorted me to the shower and to the recreation pen every day as just being young people who were doing their job. Most of the younger ones were very recently out of high school—some with as little as 3 to 6 months in the Marine Corps. I didn’t really interact with anyone else, so I never really developed an impression of the more senior people Involved.

The conditions in my cell were far beyond what is normally associated with solitary confinement. I needed permission to do anything in my cell. I was not allowed to move around the cell to exercise. I was not allowed to sit down with my back against the wall. I had no possessions inside the cell except when I was actually using something. I mean, I had a guard watch me brush my teeth every morning. The rules just seemed crazy.

Host Anna Bacciarelli: After more than three years of confinement, on the 21 August 2013, Private Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in military prison for passing classified documents to WikiLeaks during 2009 and 2010. During her trial, she was banned from presenting her evidence or the motives behind her actions, including her claim that she was acting in the public interest in exposing military abuses.

We asked Chelsea what happened in the moments after the verdict.

My legal team were pretty upset. We were escorted into a tiny side room immediately after the hearing closed. There were six of us in this small room with white walls and no furniture, with two of the armed security guards at the door waiting until the courtroom was cleared. There was this ominous silence except for a sniffle from one of the lawyers who started to cry. It seemed that everyone in the room was afraid to speak, so I just started speaking. I began telling them that they did a great job and worked very, very hard to get to this point—and that I couldn’t have asked for anything more from them.

“Why did I publicly announce ‘I am Chelsea Manning, I am female.’ the day after the sentence?” Well—for one—that’s who I am. It made sense to me to tell people who I am as soon as I was given the opportunity to do so, which was the day after the trial finished. I had been holding back on my announcement only because of the trial. I wanted to do it sooner, but the lawyers advised against it.

I felt honored to have a platform like national television available to me to make such an announcement. I felt proud of myself, for making the decision to be honest about who I am with everyone I know. I also felt excited, because I was getting nothing but an outpouring of support from the people who care about me.

Fort Leavenworth is a very large but not a very densely populated military base in the rolling hills along the Kansas banks of the Missouri River. It’s known for two things: the command and staff school that teaches military officers from all over the world; and, the military prison.

My initial impressions were based on the old “castle” prison building that has been closed down for several years now. I was expecting something from the movies. The reality is a lot simpler.

On my first night here, I was pretty much like “Okay, here I am.” I laid looking up in the dark of my cell and I stared at this dim buzzing night light on that ceiling, and I decided to just blend in and work toward settling in here.

Every single morning when I wake up, I walk over to the stainless steel toilet/sink in my cell and look into the eyes of the woman in the reflection in the mirror and say “okay, you can deal with this” to her. That’s the moment each morning that I motivate myself for the day—and only that day. I think it’s very important to break big long things like years down into discrete and manageable units that can easily be conquered.

In here, I’m just like anybody else. There’s nothing special about me in comparison to anyone else who lives here. I get treated like anyone else, and I only expect that I get treated like anyone else.

I wake up at around 4:30 a.m. each work day, or about 5:30 on weekends and holidays.

When I’m working, I drink coffee and eat breakfast at the prison cafeteria—when I’m not working, I avoid coffee and take a nap after breakfast —ha-ha. Work begins at about 7 a.m. and lasts until about 4 p.m., with about an hour and a half break for lunch in between.

When I get back to my cell in the evening, I go through the letters, cards, newspapers, and magazines from the day. I sometimes sort my laundry, get ready to either work out (with an emphasis on flexibility and cardio), or go to the Library to exchange books or type up letters or legal documents. I also make the most of my phone calls in the evening. I take a shower after working out, and go to bed—usually after reading a book or a magazine for an hour or so.

I work in a small woodwork team and we make a lot of high quality items. When we are lucky, we might make heirloom furniture for special orders—coffee-tables, beds, dressers, and cabinets. But we make a lot of standard stock items for bulk orders—usually odds and ends like award plaques, picture frames, picture boards, and triangular flag cases for folded U.S. flags. It’s a very fun job. Each team makes these items from start to finish—from rough lumber to the final finished product—so it feels like we’re making something out of nothing on our own. It’s not an assembly line.

It’s the dead heat of summer right now, so I can see the sky outside my window. It often swings wildly from an incredible clear azure hue of blue, to the ominous rolling of puffy white thunderstorm clouds from the distance, to the dark gray swirl of an intense Midwestern storm with flashes of bright white and blue lightning. There are fields of grass outside and between the fence that are very green and healthy—with a large variety of birds and little critters like squirrels and bugs running amok in them. I can also see the vast, rolling hills and thick patches of hardwood trees typical of northeastern Kansas and western Missouri.

In winter, everything turns a deep golden brown—the trees, the grass, the dirt, basically everything. As it begins to look really bland, nature throws in a light snow storm to the mix, and everything gets blanketed with a bright and very pure white! It’s never dull outside my window.

But sure, there are less exciting things like buildings and razor wire—but my mind doesn’t register them anymore.

I love doing cardio and flexibility exercises—and in spring, early summer, and early autumn I get to go outside and run. Right now, it’s the dead heat of summer and it’s just too hot and humid to run all that much—but as soon as it starts to cool off, I’ll get back into the rhythm.

I requested for medical treatment in August 2013—but I didn’t start treatment until February 2015. In December of 2014, I started wearing cosmetics—but that was really just a Band-Aid.

It’s a very strange reality that taking hormones has made clear to me. I can feel emotions much more immediately and deeply. Before, I used to just put my feelings in this little box in my head and say—I’ll deal with you later. But now, when I’m feeling sad, I cry. When I’m feeling angry, I need to take a step away and cool down for a minute. When I’m feeling happy, I laugh and get excited—and when I’m feeling lonely, I reach out to someone that I care about. Life is a much richer and fuller experience for me as a person.

Physically, my skin is softer and I guess that it’s a lot more sensitive because I can feel things that I never noticed before—like the way that the texture of fabrics might run against my skin, or the air circulating through my clothing, or the smooth and intense cold of a door handle. These feelings are very real to me—and I wouldn’t want to get rid of them.

I’m committed to learning as much as I can. I have a lot of little goals and objectives that I set for myself every day and every week, like writing this essay for a college course, or reading about this particular topic, or focusing on learning a particular style or technique of doing something. But, as a whole they all coalesce into the goal of enriching my knowledge, understanding, and connection with the world and people around me.

I have always enjoyed music. I love all different kinds of music – but I have a particular taste for what a lot people call “E.D.M.” or “electronic dance music.” But more fundamentally, I love any music that has a good beat – it’s just I prefer the creativity that digital and electronic music can offer us. I think it’s a fantastic medium to work with and listen to!

I get the most hope from the letters and cards that I receive from all kinds of unique people. I get letters from queer and trans kids a lot—which I think is amazing just because it’s a long forgotten medium to write a letter. When I first entered into confinement, I didn’t know where to write the return address or the sending address or where to put a stamp—so I can only imagine how important it must be for a kid to learn how to do something so unusual and unfamiliar in this digital era. It means a lot for me to get letters from these kids who feel so connected with me – they inspire me to keep going, and give me the most amount of hope.

I’ve actually imagined a few times what it would be like if I could travel back in time and speak to myself as a teenager. I know what she was feeling deep down inside. I know all the fears that she had, and all the vulnerabilities she was hiding. I would want to grab her by the hand and tell her that everything is going to be okay. I would tell her that there is nothing wrong with you, and that you are more loved and appreciated than you realize. I would tell her that she can be a happier and healthier person if she stays true to herself, like I have finally been able to figure out. I wouldn’t push her too far, I can’t even tell myself who she is—but I’d try to start that conversation, and guide her in the right direction. These were just the things that I so badly needed to hear from someone when I was younger—that we are all human, and can be loved and valued unconditionally.

Host Anna Bacciarelli: That was actress Michelle Hendley voicing the words of Chelsea Manning, for Amnesty’s “In Their Own Words.” Chelsea is still in Fort Leavenworth military prison, Kansas. It will be 2045 before she’s released, if she serves her full sentence. Amnesty is calling for Chelsea to be freed now. She was overcharged as a warning to others, while the abuses she reported have never been investigated.

In 2015, after she took the Army to court, Chelsea won the right to become the first military prisoner to access hormone treatment to transition in prison. But, she still can’t grow her hair, and is forced to adhere to military grooming standards for males. So, that’s her current battle.

Meanwhile, the US Army is looking at reassessing how trans people in the forces are treated. In no small part, thanks to Chelsea. So does she looking forward to, after she served her sentence?

I feel like I’ve been stored away for all this time without a voice or the ability to show my love and support to the folks who need it. I feel like there’s so much of a contribution to society that I could be making. I spend every day looking forward to the hope that one day I can give that a go.

Host: I’m Anna Bacciarelli. You’ve been listening to “In Their Own Words,” a podcast series from Amnesty International. Thanks to Michelle Hendley for reading, and of course, to Chelsea Manning, for sharing her story.

Please remember to subscribe to hear more stories from human rights activists around the world. Until next time.

Amnesty International Produces Podcast “In Chelsea’s Own Words” as Voiced by actress Michelle Hendley

chelsea_large croppedChelsea Manning, who prepared a statement for last year’s Aaron Swartz Day, has just announced a podcast about her life story that just went up a few hours ago.

It’s impossible to hear Chelsea’s actual voice, as she is not allowed to have her voice recorded while she is incarcerated, so Amnesty International decided to do the next best thing. They enlisted actress Michelle Hendley to portray Chelsea.

One section that stands out, apart the stories about Chelsea’s experience growing up, is where she describes the harsh and cruel techniques used upon her during her incarceration, before she had even been convicted of any crimes.

From the podcast:

I expected to be treated like any other military prisoner or detainee would be – with dignity and respect, I had no reason to expect otherwise until I was transferred to the cage.

It was very hot, and it was dark in the tent. I remember you couldn’t tell If it was day or night outside. The facility operated 24/7 so only the meals would give you a hint as to what time it was. Eventually, it all became a blur. It’s difficult to for me to explain in any detail.

My memory of that time is very foggy. It’s all blended together as a really personal mess.

Being alone in that tent for hours on end without having any access to the outside world, I was left without any Idea of what was going on anywhere. I barely knew what month it was, or how long I had been there. I hadn’t started talking regularly to an attorney yet, and I didn’t even know what I was being charged with, exactly, either.

After a few weeks of living in this mental blur – I began to become entirely dependent on the staff that came to watch me and deliver food to me. They were my only connection to the outside world. But, they were not very talkative or reliable – at least in retrospect. My mind was very malleable and I was susceptible to believing all kinds of things because I didn’t have any other information. So – if a guard told me that I was going to be transferred to a ship off the coast of the horn of Africa, it made sense to me and I totally believed it was possible. I had no idea if the rest of the world knew where I was, or where I was going. Anything could have happened.

When I arrived at Marine Corps Base Quantico I was basically subjected to the same conditions that I was in Kuwait – except it was a permanent, air-conditioned building in Virginia. After being there for a couple of days I was allowed to have visitors which was very helpful to catching up on what had happened in the two or three months prior.

I lived in a small 8 by 6 feet Cell – roughly 2.5 by 2 meters. I was in a cell-block with a bunch of other cells that were all empty. I was not allowed to talk to anyone else – even though there wasn’t anybody near me. There were at least two Marines that watched me from behind a one-way reflective glass window at all times. I could see myself in the reflection of the window ail day long. it was like a mirror right outside my cell.

I was not allowed to have anything in my cell that I wasn’t actually using. I would turn in most of my clothes at night. If I wanted to use the toilet – I had to ask for toilet paper, and I would have to return it when I was done. it was the same with toothbrushes, books, and sometimes even my glasses. I was not allowed to lie down or sleep during the duty day from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. I was only allowed to sit up straight on my bed and literally stare at the wall for hours on end. I was sometimes allowed to watch television during the evening, but I had
no control over what was on. Even then, Marines would monitor what I was watching, and would change the channel when anything like news or current events shows would come on.

The entire experience was such a surreal nightmare – it just seemed comical to me. I mean, it was just an incredibly crazy experience. It just seems that you have to have a sense of humor in these kinds of situations, or else you won’t be able to cope with painful or emotionally complicated situations.

I viewed the junior enlisted Marines who watched me and escorted me to the shower and to the recreation pen every day as just being young people who were doing their job. Most of the younger ones were very recently out of high school – some with as little as 3 to 6 months in the Marine Corps. I didn’t really interact with anyone else, so I never really developed an impression of the more senior people Involved.

The conditions in my cell were far beyond what is normally associated with solitary confinement. I needed permission to do anything in my cell. I was not allowed to move around the cell to exercise. I was not allowed to sit down with my back against the wall. I had no possessions inside the cell except when I was actually using something. I mean, I had a guard watch me brush my teeth every morning! the rules just seemed crazy!

Interview with “Idealist” Author Justin Peters: New Book About Aaron Swartz and His Greater Role In Copyright History

idealistIn the days immediately following Aaron’s death, Justin Peters was one of the many reporters that contacted me in the hopes of figuring out what happened.

I wasn’t much help at all figuring that out, because, at the time, I had no idea about the situation, except what I had read in the press.

What I could tell them about was Aaron in his youth, what it was like working with him when we were starting Creative Commons, a bit of the ideology behind it, and some of the movements that followed.

Most of the reporters weren’t as interested in Aaron’s history as much as the tragedy at hand. Justin Peters, who was writing an article for Slate magazine, was different. He seemed to care not only about what had happened, but also, what events could have possibly led up to that outcome, on a historical scale, in the context of everything else going on during the time.

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Justin Peters, Author of “The Idealist”

He was obviously trying to understand a lot more than the basic facts of what had taken place. He was asking real questions, trying to get to the bottom of the mess, but also asking the larger, looming questions, like: how could something like this happen in our democratic “free” society? How do things exist in our country like having to pay by the page to access the law (as is the case with PACER) or having to pay $50 an article to access anything more than the abstract of a scientific journal (unless you had already bought your way into a prestigious university)?

We talked about a lot of subjects that might have seemed tangential to many. Aaron was involved in a lot of different important projects, all at once. Justin seemed to be trying to understand how it all fit together. I spoke to Justin for a long time on two separate occasions. The second time we spoke, he admitted that he wanted more information for something “that might go beyond this story for Slate.”

The Slate article came out and was quite comprehensive. A few months later, I heard that Justin had gone on leave from his job to write an entire book on Aaron Swartz.

That book just came out January 12th. It’s called The Idealist.

I caught up with Justin to ask him about what kinds of things he learned in the process of writing the book.

Lisa: How was it that you came to realize that you really felt the like to wanted to create a book on this topic?

Justin: Even though the Slate article turned out to be 15,000 words long, I felt that I was barely scratching the surface of the story of Aaron’s life and the circumstances of his death. In order to tell the full story, I would have to explain just how we got to the point where academic research papers were considered private property, and downloading those papers without explicit permission could be deemed a federal crime. And I eventually realized that the only way to adequately answer these questions – which seemed so central to understanding Aaron’s story – would be to write a full-length book. Once I came to that conclusion, there was no turning back.

Lisa: Did anything specific make you say to yourself – I want to keep going with this. (When you were researching.)

Justin: In August of 2014, I went to Champaign, Illinois to look at the personal papers of Michael Stern Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg. At that time, the book was not going well: the chapters weren’t coming together, I was struggling to connect the history sections with the Aaron Swartz sections, I was close to blowing my first deadline, and I felt stymied by my own authorial limitations and basically wanted to just give up on the project. And then Hart’s personal papers turned out to be really, really fascinating and rich in detail. The two days I spent in the archives there, researching the genesis of Project Gutenberg and the life of its creator, really gave me a second wind—and gave me an obvious bridge between the history chapters and the modern-day chapters. I walked out of the archives saying “I know how to do this now! I have to tell this story!”

Lisa: Let’s talk about that. It sounds like you had one vision of the book going, that wasn’t working out, and you became inspired after looking through the personal papers of Michael Stern Hart.  How did you even end up looking at his papers? How does Project Gutenberg tie in with Aaron’s greater story?

Justin: Yeah, that’s basically right. I had always known about Project Gutenberg, but I didn’t realize that it had been around in one form or another since 1971. When I learned that, I started thinking “Wow, that’s super early! I bet there’s a good story there.” I love archives and primary sources—there’s no better way to learn about a person than to examine his or her own writings—so when I learned that Hart’s papers had been preserved at the University of Illinois, I booked a ticket to Champaign almost immediately. And as soon as I started examining his papers, I found that Hart sort of reminded me of Aaron, in terms of his idealism, his precocity, and his interest in free culture. Project Gutenberg was perhaps the first digital attempt to digitize public domain material and bring it to the masses for free. I see Hart as a kindred spirit to Aaron, and the story of Project Gutenberg as very much a predecessor to Aaron’s own work with the public domain.

Lisa: Do you see what happened to Aaron as sort of the latest chapter in an ongoing struggle between Copyright and the Public Good?

Justin: That’s absolutely right. This struggle has been going on for literally centuries. Over the last several decades, the people who have advocated for longer copyright terms have been winning. They’ve been very successful in not only lobbying for laws that support their position, but in making the argument that longer copyright terms serve the public good; that functionally eternal copyright benefits the public by ensuring that authors will see more profit from the sale of their works, and thus hopefully write more works. Every time a new communications technology becomes popular, this struggle renews itself, with increasing ferocity. Aaron was, in part, a casualty of this struggle.

Lisa: My takeaway from the early chapters in the book was that The Statue of Anne’s existence was never actually to “protect authors,” but rather, was aimed at securing publisher’s profits, from the beginning. Is that correct?

Justin: The British publishers and printers who lobbied for the Statute of Anne in the early 18th century wanted to protect their own interests first and foremost. They knew that a copyright law would help stabilize their own businesses and their own profits, and help stifle competition in the industry. And they realized that the best way to obtain that law was to convince Parliament that the law was primarily meant for the benefit of authors and readers. The printers were being disingenuous, and they knew it.

That said, the Statute of Anne did end up helping authors. That’s important to acknowledge. By decreeing that copyright belonged to the author, as opposed to the publisher or printer, Parliament gave British authors a measure of control over their own works, and framed copyright as a production incentive instead of just a censorship tool. Authors in England had absolutely zero legal standing prior to The Statute of Anne. The Stationers’ charter didn’t mention authors at all; it was all about giving printers absolute and perpetual control over the works they published. By saying — however disingenuously — that authors themselves held the right to copy their own works, the Statute of Anne at least advanced the notion that the author was an integral part of the publication process, and I think it’s fair to interpret this as a step up for authors from where they were before.

Lisa: One last thing: Am I to understand that Noah Webster of all people is mostly to blame for convincing our country’s early politicians to adopt  systems much like England’s copyright infrastructure, state by state, after The Articles of Confederation were established?

Justin: If anyone deserves the title of “The Father of Copyright in America,” it’s probably Webster, who, as a young man in the 1780s, went around lobbying the various state legislatures on behalf of authorial copyright. Before he compiled his famed Dictionary, Webster was a tremendously ambitious young striver who had written a spelling textbook that he hoped would become nationally popular, and in the process, make him rich and famous. So he spent years making the case for copyright—and for himself—to legislators and civic leaders across the new nation; when Congress passed the first federal copyright act in 1790—the law was based on the Statute of Anne—Webster took credit for having brought the matter to the nation’s attention.

Lisa: You just wrapped up your book tour, but you mentioned you were open to doing more book signings or events in the future?

Justin: Yes. Please contact me on Twitter @justinrevett or email me at: justintrevett at fastmail dot fm, if you’d like to try to bring me to an event in your town. Thanks.

Chelsea Manning Interviewed on BoingBoing

Chelsea Manning interview: DNA, big data, official secrecy, and citizenship

by Cory Doctorow for BoingBoing.

Photo of the actual exhibit, in Davos, Switzerland, at last week's Economic Forum. Photo by: danah boyd, Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum
Photo of the actual exhibit, in Davos, Switzerland, at last week’s World Economic Forum. Photo by: danah boyd, Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum

From the article:

The U.S. Government has refused to confirm or deny that there is any ongoing investigation in to your matter, but it looks like they spilled some beans to you? Can you explain what happened, and what it means?

Nearly two years ago, I requested a copy of the FBI files related to their role in the investigation of my case. After going through a lengthy FOIA process, I finally filed a lawsuit to compel the FBI and the Department of Justice to turn over these records.

The basis of their denial is that there is still an ongoing investigation into my case. They have admitted as such before the court in a joint filing. This is the reason that they won’t turn these records over. However, their response is still vague. The government has not acknowledged who they are investigating, or why—just that it is directly related to my case and court martial…

What’s your call to arms for people who care about the issues that sent you to jail? What should they be doing? What would you be doing, if you were free?

Read everything. Ask your own questions. Be your own filter. Nobody is going to look at the world around you and tell you what important things are happening that affect you and the ones you love.

They will sell you things. They will ask you to vote for them. They will offer their services to you. They have an ambiguous agenda that doesn’t really involve your interests as a citizen. There is a difference between a consumer—who passively receives the information that they are spoon fed—and a citizen—who engages with society, asks questions, does research, and works towards making a difference in their neighborhood, city, and country. This is what I try to be—whether I’m in prison or outside—I keep reading and asking questions as a citizen.

Chelsea Manning digital rendering from DNA - gender parameter assigned female - photo credit Heather Dewey-Hagborg
Chelsea Manning digital rendering from DNA – gender parameter assigned female – photo credit Heather Dewey-Hagborg

Chelsea Manning Reviews “The Boy Who Could Change The World”

boy_who_could_change_the_world_finalRemembering Aaron Swartz: My Review of “The Boy Who Could Change The World – By Chelsea Manning

From the review:

For me, reading this book was a revelatory experience. This compilation reminded me of when I read The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a teenager a number of years ago. Unlike Dr. King, I honestly never really knew just deep the brilliance and idealism of Aaron was until I read some of his lesser known and older pieces…

Throughout his writing, Aaron ceaselessly and confidently expresses his underlying ideology. At times, Aaron — being a young person throughout — is inconsistent and contradictory. However, at the root of it all, is his unwavering belief in the power of the people — especially the average citizen. He believes in the strength of the little guy. Aaron also prods us to create tools that make the world better for everyone, whether rich or poor…

I feel like the world abandoned Aaron in his time of need. I feel like the world — myself included — took Aaron for granted. He intelligently and thoughtfully challenged everything and everyone: software companies, corporations, multimedia conglomerates, governments, and even modern school systems! Yet, in his final challenge — we only stood on the sidelines and rooted for him, waiting for him to win again. Instead, he lost. Then, we lost.

Read the complete review here.

Brewster Kahle at Aaron Swartz San Francisco Memorial 2013

Brewster Kahle at the Internet Archive, January 24, 2013
Brewster Kahle at the Internet Archive, January 24, 2013

From the San Francisco Aaron Swartz Memorial. January 24, 2013.

Brewster does a great job of explaining to us about Aaron’s “Open Source Life,” and how “bulk downloading” (although it got Aaron into trouble) is in itself, is not only “not a crime,” but a desirable action with outcomes that benefit the public.

He also sheds light on Aaron’s ongoing quests to make U.S. legal court documents (via PACER) and works in the Public Domain (via GoogleBooks) more publicly accessible (rather than locking both up  behind paywalls or with cumbersome downloading restrictions).

Brewster Kahle:

I learned from Aaron what living an Open Source life was like. I think he really did live that way. He floated and helped others. He gave everything away. He really wasn’t tied to an institution. He really was not a company man in any sense. He was really quite pure in his motivations, and it made him incredibly effective at cutting through a lot of the stuff that most of us deal with.

An open source life.

He was able to keep his self interests at bay, which is kind of remarkable for a lot of us. But he was able to do it. And he was able to communicate well with an open smile and a kind heart. He had a way of communicating with this energy on things that mattered and he had a genius at finding things that mattered to millions of people. There are lots of things to work on, but the things that he worked on were incredibly effective.

We first met, I think, in 2002 at the Eldred Supreme Court case in Washington DC, where we drove a Bookmobile Across, celebrating the Public Domain by giving away books that kids made, and also then at the Creative Commons Launch. But I really got to know Aaron when he said ‘I’d really like to help make the Open Library website with the Internet Archive’ to go and give books and integrate books into the Internet itself. And he said “I’ve got this cool technology, called “Infogami,” it really made it possible to make Reddit happen. Let’s use it again for this other thing.”

And it was wonderful to work with him, but it was really unlike working with anybody else I’ve ever met. You certainly couldn’t tell him what to do, he just kind of did what was the right thing to do, and he was right certainly a lot more often than I was. We also worked together in other areas, when he was a champion of open access, especially of the Public Domain. Bringing public access to the Public Domain.

Most people think that’s kind of an obvious thing. Doesn’t “the Public Domain” mean that it’s publicly accessible? Of course all of us say “No!” It’s sort of like there are these National Parks, with moats and walls and guns turrets sort of pointing out, in case someone wanted to come near the Public Domain. And Aaron didn’t think this was right. And he spent a lot of time and effort freeing these materials.

One of the first ones that we were actively working together on was freeing government court cases, so that anybody could see this without having to have special privilege or money, and also to make it so you could data mine it, and go and look at these things in a very different way. So he freed and liberated a lot of court cases from the PACER system, and uploaded them, in bulk, to the Internet Archive, so that people could have access to these. There are now 4 Million documents, from 800,000 cases that have been used by 6 million people, because of the project that Aaron Swartz and others helped start.

It was an interesting project because it went over many different organizations, each playing a role and all cooperating in a very non-corporate way. It was a very Aaron style way of making things happen. And the idea of making court documents and legal documents available more easily struck a chord with me because, in college, I was trying to figure out how I was gonna try to get out of the draft. And my college didn’t have a legal collection, and the only way that I could try to get to legal court documents was to get an ID from my professor and break in to the Harvard Law Library to go and read court documents. That sucked! It really makes no sense, and Aaron not only sort of saw that it doesn’t make sense. He decided he was going to try to help solve this. Not just for himself, but for everyone.

Then there was other Public Domain collections like the Google Books Collection. Google Books was a library project to go and digitize lots and lots of books. A lot of them were Public Domain. Google would make them available from their website, but really really painfully. It would make it so if you wanted one book, you could get one book. If you wanted 100 books, they would turn off your IP address forever. This is no way to have public access to the Public Domain, and the Internet Archive started getting these uploads of “Google Books.” Going faster, and faster, and faster. Like well, where are these coming from? Well it turns out it’s Aaron. He and a bunch of friends figured out that they could go and get a bunch of computers to go slowly enough to just clock through tons of Google Books and upload them to the Internet Archive. Interestingly, Google never got upset about it. The libraries, on the other hand, grumbled. Which is so… Well anyway. They’ll get over it.

So, when this started happening, we said “Ok. What’s going on? Should we be concerned?” The answer was “No, it’s Public Domain.” We just made sure that we got the cataloging data right, and we linked back to Google, so that if you’re on the book, you can go back to the original page and see the da da da da da. And it all worked well.

But there it was. Aaron doing it again; bringing access to the Public Domain.

What is crushing to me is that Aaron got ensnared by the Federal Government for doing something that the Internet Archive actively encourages others to do for our collections, and we think all libraries should encourage, which is: Bulk downloading to support data mining and other research using computers. This is just the way the world works.

The first step is for a computer to read and analyze materials is to download a set of documents. When Aaron did this from one library, JSTOR, they strongly objected, and demanded that MIT find and stop that user, which then led U.S. Prosecutors to pull out their worst techniques.

Did anybody stop to ask if bulk downloading is a crime? I say “No. Bulk downloading is not, in itself, a crime.” Let’s stop this practice of discouraging bulk downloading, because there are encouraging projects that are learning amazing new things by having computers be part of the research process. Let’s not stop this and discourage young people from coming up with new and different ways to learn things from our libraries.

What resulted, in this case, was tragic, and not necessary. Really, what we want is computers to be able to read. Aaron knew this. We’re all building this, and he got ensnared anyway. Let’s let our computers read.

Because of this tragedy, JSTOR, whom I talked to this morning, and the Internet Archive, have agreed to meet to discuss the broad issue of data mining and web crawling. I hope that we really make progress. At least there’s reasons to be positive.

This assault on Aaron would disillusion, discourage and depress any principled young man, and if there ever was a principled young man, it was Aaron Swartz.

We miss you, and we will carry on your important work.

Link to Brewster’s talk on video at archive.org

All Speakers, SF Memorial, at archive.org

Open Mic Portion of memorial (Includes John Perry Barlow and many other incredible talks)

The Boy Who Could Change The World – and the Book that changed Aaron’s Life

boy_who_could_change_the_world_finalI’ve been reading The Boy Who Could Change The World this weekend, although it’s probably an extra-emotional experience for me, due to the timing. It really is a wonderful collection of writings from Aaron’s curious and insightful mind.

Besides the content from Aaron’s blog, two longer, previously unpublished essays are included in the  “Politics” and “School” chapters of the book. These were found in the Safra Center archives.

The finished masterpiece was Edited by Jed Bickman at The New Press.

Benjamin Mako Hill and Seth Schoen edited the section on “Free Culture,” and wrote its introduction. Cory Doctorow edited and wrote an introduction for the “Media” section.

David Auerbach edited and wrote the introduction for the “Computers” section. David Segal and Henry Farrell edited “Politics.” (David did the introduction, Henry the postscript for the section.) James Grimmelmann edited and wrote and introduction for “Books and Culture. Astra Taylor edited and wrote an introduction for the “Unschool” section.

One excerpt that stood out to me was Aaron’s enthusiastic account of  The Book That Changed My Life. (The book being Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky.) Although the piece is titled “The Book That Changed My Life,” it turns out it was a film,  Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, that caused him to find and read the book.

From The Book That Changed My Life:

Each story, individually, can be dismissed as some weird oddity, like what I’d learned about the media focusing more on posters than on policy. But seeing them all together, you can’t help but begin to tease out the larger picture, to ask yourself what’s behind all these disparate things, and what that means for the way we see the world.

Events Going On Monday For This Year’s Sad Anniversary

Thoughtworks will be hosting a number of “Celebrating Aaron” events going on across the country to give people a place to gather, celebrate and learn more about Aaron and his legacy.

I’ll be at the San Francisco event at 6pm. See you there.

These events are also promoting the new book of Aaron’s writings titled “The Boy Who Could Change the World,” from The New Press.

From the Thoughtworks website:

In our offices all over the US, we’re honoring Aaron’s contributions to technology and society. Join us in a local office on Aaron Swartz Day for book giveaways, screenings of The Internet’s Own Boy, and discussion.

San Francisco
6-9PM | 814 Mission St., 5th Floor

Atlanta
6-9PM | 1175 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 1400 

Chicago
6-9PM | 200 E Randolph St, 25th Floor
*We will be selling copies of The Boy Who Could Change The World.  The suggested minimum is $20, with all proceeds being donated to Black Girls Code.  We have 25 copies of the book, and it will be first come first serve.  

Dallas
6-9PM | 15540 Spectrum Drive, Addison 

New York
6-9PM | 99 Madison Ave, 15th Floor

 

Wish Chelsea Manning a Happy 28th Birthday!

Send Chelsea Manning a birthday card!

Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning is spending her 28th birthday in a military prison. She’s been incarcerated since she was 22 for helping expose some of the U.S. government’s worst abuses.

chelsea-logo

It’s so important that we show heroic whistleblowers like Chelsea that they will not be forgotten, so we want to make sure she gets lots of birthday love! Just fill out this page, and we’ll mail your customized birthday card to Chelsea to remind her that she’s not alone—Happy Birthday, Chelsea Manning!

Learn more from Fight For The Future!

Read Chelsea’s statement from this year’s Aaron Swartz Day.

November 5-6, 2016