Category Archives: Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning and Heather Dewey-Hagborg: Together Again

By Lisa Rein

I wrote the Mondo2000 article “Why Chelsea Manning and Heather Dewey-Hagborg Speaking Together Today In Ann Arbor Is A Pretty Big Deal” to tell the story of my having the honor and privilege to work with Chelsea Manning and Heather Dewey-Hagborg on their fascinating and frighteningly-enlightening art projects :-) (via Mondo2000)

Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Chelsea Manning in Ann Arbor, MI

They spoke together in Ann Arbor, on March 15, at the University of Michigan, and in Pittsburg, on March 20, at the Carnegie Mellon School of Art.

Heather and Chelsea, with illustrator Shoili Kanungo made a beautiful little comic book about Chelsea and Heather’s first collaboration, “Radical Love.” The last frame of the Supressed Images comic book has Chelsea out of prison and looking at her own self-portraits for the first time. It was an emotional moment when it came true, and Heather helps me take a walk down memory lane, so we can bring you all sides of this amazing story :-)

Top pic: #11 of their Supressed Images comic book, published January 17, 2017.

Bottom pic: Chelsea at the installation at the Fridman Gallery, in New York City, in August 2018.

 

Seriously folks. We are talking about a dream come true ending here.
From “Probably Chelsea” at the Fridman Gallery, NYC.

A Trip Down Memory Lane With John Perry Barlow For Mondo 2000

RU Sirius, over at the newly revamped Mondo 2000 asked Lisa Rein if she would write a few words about her memories of hanging out and working with John Perry Barlow, who gave her very thoughtful and enthusiastic advice on all three of her “life’s work” archival projects. (That is, her projects of cataloguing and explaining the lives of Dr. Timothy Leary, Aaron Swartz, and Chelsea Manning.)

John Perry Barlow Through the Lens of Lisa Rein’s Archival Memories

From the piece:

We didn’t realize it, but John Perry Barlow really identified with Aaron and was greatly inspired by him. Barlow showed up at Aaron’s San Francisco memorial and read a short prepared statement, the first in a large collection of many other folks who were not part of the “official memorial.” (Brewster and I had so many requests from people that wanted to speak, we figured we’d better open it up afterwards to give people a chance to share their stories.)

It was in part due to John Perry’s words that night that Brewster and I realized we needed to have an Aaron Swartz-inspired celebration every year, to harness the sad energy into something constructive and positive that could reach out and protect future generations of precocious youth.

Here is John Perry’s speech from the San Francisco memorial:

“I will be brief. My name is John Perry Barlow, and Aaron Swartz was the embodiment and the apotheosis of everything I’ve stood for for the last 25 years. And it is paradoxical that even though that is true, and even though he was profoundly involved with most of my best friends and greatest heroes, I spent almost all the time I ever spent with him, one afternoon in, I think 1996, when he really was a very little kid.

I had been asked by the Headmaster of Northshore Country Day to come and speak to the middle school. And, for some reason, there was this 10 to 11 year old that was among the middle schoolers.

And I spent the afternoon —- and this was a time when I don’t think there were that many people that felt the way I did about this stuff — most of them are in this room now… and I was promoting the idea that we could make a world where anybody anywhere could give his thirst for knowledge and curiosity everything that it wanted to know, and that anybody could know as much as any human being knew about anything in the future.

And, he didn’t say much. He was extremely memorable however. He was much younger. He was all eyes and mind and spiritual radiance, in a way. And I scarcely saw him again.”

Read the rest here.

Chelsea Manning Is Running For A Senate Seat In Maryland!

Update January 19, 2018 – Read Chelsea’s first interview since her announcement here.

Here’s Chelsea’s video about her candidacy:

You can donate here!

All she has said about it so far are these tweets:

and

Chelsea Manning’s Statement for Aaron Swartz Day 2017

Chelsea Manning Turns 30 today!

Happy Birthday Chelsea!

CHELSEA E. MANNING AT AARON SWARTZ DAY – NOVEMBER 4, 2017.

“You don’t have to engage in direct action to support those who do.” – Chelsea E. Manning.

Here is a transcription of her statement from this year’s event! :-)

Video available here at the Internet Archive.

Well hello.

Here I am.

So, I see things have changed a little bit since last year. Since I was last out and about in the world.

First off, I’ve “spoken” – actually I’ve had two statements read at this event in the past (2015) (2016), and that’s a little different — I’m actually here.

I want to talk a little bit about where we are today. What we’re looking at and what we’re dealing with.

Because I’ve been out and about for a few months, I’ve obviously seen the sights and I see what’s going on. There’s a lot that’s changed. There’s Nazis and KKK running around. :-( (I don’t remember that being a big deal, whenever I was out.)

So, I think it’s really important to remember – especially at a time like this – that institutions – the institutions we depend on. Institutions that matter to us. Institutions that make decisions over us. Whether it’s a large corporation or a criminal justice system or media entities or whatever, like these large institutions can and they regularly do fail, and I think it’s important to recognize that sometimes institutions don’t work. And when they don’t work, you can’t ask them to work again. You know? You just can’t.

So, what we’re seeing today, I think, is more institutions that are depending on secrecy. More institutions that are depending on cracking down on any forms of dissent or disagreement or even just a hint of potential threat to them. And all of this is surrounded by this notion of power. Institutions have power. They have the ability to make decisions over our lives, and they’ve kind of rigged the systems.

The ways in which we engage in public. The ways in which we engage with our institutions – they are usually very administrative. Like you go to your ballot box and you have an election, or you have a procedure, or an administrative complaint, or a redress request, or something like that. And also, there’s a lot of compromise that happens between institutions and us. And a lot of us end up asking the question “well, you know, this really sucks” you know, “this isn’t working. Maybe somebody should do something about this?”

And I think that’s a really important moment that happens in each and every one of us. Is that moment where it’s like “this isn’t working, but what can I do?” I get asked a lot: “What can I do?” And, I think it’s really important to remember that whenever systems fail, and whenever institutions don’t work, you do have agency. You do have power. And every single person who’s spoken today introduces us to different ways in which we can engage with power and which we can actually have a forceable impact to have the political agency beyond what we see. Beyond the ballot box. There’s more to politics than just elections or court orders or requests or lawsuits. There’s so much more.

I look at the various forms of direct action as an answer to that process. Whether it’s…I engage in a form of direction but it’s different than another form. We all have different ways in which we can engage in political agency, and together as a collective group of people. We have power and we have the ability to make decisions, and we have the ability to make that be known, even whenever institutions ask us not to. Or tell us not to, forcefully.

I look at how each and every one of us has power. Once of the most inspiring moments I’ve seen since I’ve been out is when I watched as a group of people taking down a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, and I found that inspiring. I found that powerful. I relate to that. I feel like that’s very similar. It feels empowering.

We don’t have to engage in direct action. We don’t all have to do these things. We can also support each other and we can support people who do the right thing or make a decision and end up in trouble or whether its facing getting fired or getting prosecuted or going to prison. We can provide support for people. You don’t have to engage in direct action to support those who do.

Prisoner support works. I was a prisoner for seven years. Lisa, she supported me when I was in prison. Lisa Rein. I’ve had many many many hours on the phone with Lisa, and she helped me in times when I was troubled. When I was alone. Whenever I was doubting myself. Whenever I felt I wasn’t being heard or whenever I felt I was being forgotten. And she was there. And she would sometimes pick up the phone in the supermarket. Or pick up the phone, ya know, while running. Or like, as she’s doing live things. So, she was there for me, and that support really mattered.

We can write letters. We can give inmates money for commissary or for legal defense. We can show our solidarity. We can show up to court hearings. We can write petitions. We can actively do things to help people that do place themselves at risk against their institutions. And it’s really important remind people that have been in positions like we have that we’re not forgotten cause it’s really easy to feel like we’re forgotten sometimes.

On a more positive note for the future though. I think it’s really important to remember that we live in a time where we don’t need leaders to tell us what to do, or to guide us in a time like this. I think we need each other. I lean upon people that are closest to me. I learned this in prison that the people closest to you are the people that matter the most. I looked to them when the prison staff was treating me awfully. Or, just as much as I could reach out to Lisa, I had my prison friends across the table from me. Or down the hall. Or in the cell two doors down that I could reach out to. We worked together. We can depend on each other. We needed each other.

That works out here as well. We need each other. We know what our communities need. Each one of us knows what our community needs. Someone that’s way up upon high that makes decisions doesn’t know what our community needs.

I also think it’s important to remember – especially because I’m told a lot: “You really give me hope.”

I don’t give anybody hope. Hope is not something that anyone can give to you. Nobody can give you hope. Hope is something that you already have. You just have to find it, and we have to help each other find it. Nobody gave me hope when I was in prison. I had to find it. I found it and it got me through. And the support helped me find it.

It’s really important to remember that we do have this. “We got this” – that’s a hashtag that I use very frequently on my Twitter, and it actually comes from a phrase that I said many many times to Lisa, whenever we were having troubled moments over the phone. Whenever she was helping me. Even whenever it looked like… Cause ya know, I didn’t think this would happen. I didn’t think I’d be standing here today. I really didn’t. We had moments when neither of us did. But, she worked so hard.

And and one of the things that we used to say was “We got this. We got this.” Even whenever it didn’t look like we did. And I think it’s real important to remember that sometimes, even whenever it looks like you don’t have it, you really do. And so we got this. Thank you Lisa. Thank you everyone. It’s very powerful for me to be here tonight.

Chelsea Looks Back At Her Teenage Years

Chelsea Manning will be speaking at the Fifth Annual Aaron Swartz Day Evening Event – Saturday, November 4, 2017 – 7:30 pm – TICKETS (Just going to the hackathon? It’s free.)

Chelsea E. Manning at the New York City Pride Parade, June 24, 2017

From October 8, 2017, in New York City (at the New Yorker Festival):

I grew up in central Oklahoma. A small town, Crescent, Oklahoma. And my parents were both voting Republicans and I wasn’t aware there was an alternative. Everybody held those views. And I didn’t really understand them.

I’m trans and I felt different than everybody else. I knew I was different. I didn’t have words to like, describe that. All of my friends. All of my family. All of my teachers. They all knew it as well. It felt like there was something about me that was different. It caused friction. And it caused difficulty for me.

My mother is British, and when my mother and my father split up, my mother decided to move back to the UK, and so I went and I spent four years there. I went to school there, ya know, it was different. I was a kid from the mid west. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t know. It was just a completely different world for me.

My father exposed me to computers at a young age. I learned how to program by the time I was about 8 or 9, although I didn’t fully understand probably till I was about 10. And my parents, we always had a computer in the house. And we always had internet access. So, it was a “normal” thing for me. Even though, at the time, in the early to mid 90s, it wasn’t a normal thing. And there were a lot of communities on the Internet in this time. And so, I was exploring. I was exploring who I was. I was exploring different ways of presenting myself.

I spent more time text messaging and instant messaging my friends than actually spending time with them. The term is IRL (In Real Life), but, ya know, we weren’t spending a whole lot of time IRL. My mother didn’t know how to write checks, so I used the internet to learn how. It ended up being a symbiotic relationship, but also my mother had a drinking problem, and as I got older, I realized how bad it was. And I love my mother. It just, I realized this is not the environment I needed to be in at the time. So I decided to move after my mom, she had a medical problem happen. And it was a scare for me, because I realized, if something happened to my mother, I didn’t have a back up plan. I didn’t have anywhere else to go.

So, I moved back. We didn’t get along. To say the least. I was 17, and I moved back to the states, and it was just very difficult because she (her father’s wife) didn’t like me, and so she was creating all these rules that were impossible to follow. Like, “you can’t leave your bedroom after 8pm.”

So she called the police on me one night, after an argument. It was over a sandwich, because I wanted to have a sandwich. It was 8:30 at night. So, I went out of the room, and I used *her* kitchen, after like 8 o’clock or whatever, to like make a sandwich. It was a swiss cheese and baloney sandwich. And I would cut it with a knife, so I had a knife in my hand. I wasn’t wielding it or anything like that. She had ran off and like, called the police on me. And I’m just like ok that’s weird. And so the Oklahoma Police Department knocked on the door. I’m like “hello,” and they’re like “we’re here for a domestic incident.” And I was like “Okay. She’s in there.” And so, like, the police officer understood what was going on. He basically said “you shouldn’t go back there.”

I borrowed my dad’s truck. I ended up driving to Chicago and living on the streets of Chicago for a summer in Chicago, and here I am living out of a pickup truck, and dealing with that.

My aunt did some detective work, and she asked around all the people that I used to hang out with. She told me that she called about 50 or 60 people, until she finally found somebody that had my cell phone number. So, I get a call from my aunt, and she’s like “come to my house,” and I did. I drove a night and a day, all the way to Maryland. And I lived with her for a year. It was so wonderful for her to be there for me at a time like this, and I realize now, that she really saved my life in many ways, and I didn’t realize it, I didn’t understand it at the time, cause I was so used to being in crisis mode that even whenever I was there, I was like “this is temporary.” So I was scared.

I was trying to re-establish a relationship with my father, and so I’m calling him, and he kept on saying “You need structure. You need the military. I was in the Navy for four years: You should go into the Navy or the Air Force.” And, at that time, the Iraq war was going on. So I saw the images on TV every day of chaos and violence in Bagdad, and I really wanted to do something. And I joined the Army because, ya know, it was Bagdad, where the fight was, and I wanted to help with that. I thought, “if I become an intelligence analyst, I can use my skills or learn something, and make a difference, and maybe stop this. — Chelsea E. Manning, October 8, 2017.

Excerpt from the WNYC The New Yorker Radio Hour (Starts at 3 minutes 19 seconds in.):
http://www.wnyc.org/story/chelsea-manning-life-after-prison/

Chelsea Manning to Technologists: Please Take the Time To Contemplate Your System’s Potential Misuse

Chelsea Manning will be speaking at the Fifth Annual Aaron Swartz Day Evening Event – Saturday, November 4, 2017 – 7:30 pm – TICKETS (Just going to the hackathon? It’s free.)

Chelsea E. Manning at Dolores Park in San Francisco, September, 2017.

From October 8, 2017, in New York City (at the New Yorker Festival):

I think the most important think that we have to learn, because I think it’s been forgotten, is that every single one of us has the ability to change things. Each and every one of us has this ability. We need to look to each other and realize our values are what we care about, and then assert them, and say these things, and to take actions in our political discourse to make that happen. Because it’s not going to happen at the Ballot Box. It’s not.

Make your own decisions. Make your own choices. Make your own judgement.

You have to pay attention. For engineers in particular. We design and we develop systems, but the systems that we develop can be used for different things. The software that I was using in Iraq for predictive analysis was the same that you would use in marketing. It’s the same tools. It’s the same analysis. I believe engineers and software engineers and technologists. (That’s a new term that came out while I was away :-)

I guess technologists should realize that we have an ethical obligation to make decisions that go beyond just meeting deadlines or creating a product. What actually takes some chunks of time is to say “what are the consequences of this system?” “How can this be used?” “How can this be misused?” Let’s try to figure out how we can mitigate a software system from being misused. Or decide whether you want to implement it at all. There are systems where, if misused, could be very dangerous. — Chelsea E. Manning, October 8, 2017.

Excerpt from the WNYC The New Yorker Radio Hour (starts at 31:45):
http://www.wnyc.org/story/chelsea-manning-life-after-prison/

EFF Pioneer Awards – Part One

Last week’s Pioneer Awards were absolutely amazing. I will be posting video soon, but here are some photos.

Come to this year’s Aaron Swartz Day evening event!

Lawrence Lessig & Chelsea Manning – So great finally introducing these two to each other :-) !
Noah Swartz & Brewster Kahle
Brewster Kahle & Chelsea Manning – both will be speaking at the Aaron Swartz Day evening event!
Chelsea and the EFF gang! :)
Rainey Reitman (EFF)
Dave Maass (EFF)
Cindy Cohn (Executive Director, EFF) – Cindy will be speaking at the Aaron Swartz Day Evening Event on November 4th!

Come to the Opening Reception for “A Becoming Resemblance” – August 2, 6-8pm – Fridman Gallery, NYC

Opening Reception – August 2, 2017 – 6-8pm

Fridman Gallery – 287 Spring Street, New York

Fridman Gallery is pleased to present A Becoming Resemblance, an exhibition by Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Chelsea E. Manning, investigating emerging technologies of genomic identity construction and our societal moment.

In 2015, Heather began to produce 3D printed portraits derived from the DNA extracted from cheek swabs and hair clippings Chelsea mailed out of prison. Incarcerated since her gender transition and subject to a strict policy on visitation, Chelsea’s image was suppressed from 2013 until her release from prison in May this year. The artistic collaboration with Heather gave Chelsea back a form of visibility, a human face she had been denied.

As Chelsea described the collaboration: “Prisons try very hard to make us inhuman and unreal by denying our image, and thus our existence, to the rest of the world. Imagery has become a kind of proof of existence. The use of DNA in art provides a cutting edge and a very post-modern—almost ‘post-post-modern’—analysis of thought, identity, and expression. It combines chemistry, biology, information, and our ideas of beauty and identity.”

More about A Becoming Resemblance In the Press:

President Obama Should Give Chelsea Manning Time Served

ChelseaManning-TimeServedSoon after Chelsea Manning prepared her statement for this year’s Aaron Swartz Day, her legal appeal team launched a #timeserved campaign (link to official commutation petition), asking President Obama to commute her 35 year sentence.

 

There’s a petition at Whitehouse.gov that needs 100,000 signatures by December 14th.

As the November 14th announcement by Fight for the Future explains, Commuting Chelsea’s sentence makes sense for a number of reasons:

  • She has already been in prison for almost 7 years.
  • 11 months of that was in solitary confinement. (This was before she had ever been tried and convicted of any crimes.)
  • Chelsea’s 11 months in solitary confinement was particularly brutal.  2 months was spent in 105 degree temperatures in complete darkness, in a cage in a tent *in Kuwait). (Yes, literally, a cage inside of a tent. In the dark for two months straight.
  • For the next 9 months, spent in solitary confinement at Quantico, Virginia, she had to stare straight ahead at the wall all day. (Read this first hand account from Chelsea about her time in solitary confinement.
  • Since that time, she has been incarcerated for another 6 years.
  • This means that Chelsea has already served more time than any whistleblower in U.S. history.

She writes in her commutation statement that she decided to not accept a plea deal because she thought the court would sentence her fairly.  (Alas, she made a mistake in doing so, as it obviously did not sentence her fairly.)

Just last month, after initially disappearing for a week, her lawyers announced that she had been placed in solitary confinement as punishment for her suicide attempt last July.

As soon as she was placed in solitary confinement again, it was too much for her, and she attempted to take her own life again. (The Guardian provides this excellent account of medical experts decrying the use of solitary confinement for this purpose.)

Chelsea has now been told that she will soon be charged for the second suicide attempt, and will most likely receive more solitary confinement as punishment for it.

How long can this go on? Indefinitely, apparently.

If President Obama doesn’t commute her sentence, there is nothing to stop this pattern from repeating.

Chase Strangio, Chelsea’s attorney for her ACLU case,  has written a letter to President Obama asking him to commute Chelsea’s sentence. As he explains in the New York Times article, “I worry about the sustainability of her current conditions and her ability to keep fighting under these relentless abuses.”

Please sign the petition and help spread the word.

Resources:

Whitehouse.gov petition

Blog post from Fight for the Future announcing the #timeserved campaign

Official commutation application/petition

Chelsea’s medium post with her statement, from the application:

Chase’s Strangio, Chelsea’s ACLU attorney, writes a post to Obama

Please Sign and Share Chelsea Manning’s Petition for Time Served

Please sign the petition: Tell Obama to give Chelsea #timeserved

ChelseaManning-TimeServed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full text of the Whitehouse.gov petition:

Commute Chelsea Manning’s Sentence to Time Served

Chelsea Manning has been incarcerated since May 2010, including in unlawful, unusually harsh solitary confinement for 11 months before her trial. She has spent the past six years helping others.

Chelsea has already served more time in prison than any individual in United States history who disclosed information in the public interest. Her disclosures harmed no one.

President Obama, as you and the medical community have recognized, prisoners who face solitary confinement are more likely to commit suicide.

Chelsea is a woman in a men’s facility facing ongoing mistreatment. She has attempted suicide and has been punished with additional time in solitary confinement for her desperation. Her life is at risk and you can save her.

Please commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence to time served.