Wed. May 18th, 2022

Her war sentence in 2013 in the United States did not allow her to make a public defense, which is a way to protect against similar convictions in Canada

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U.S. whistleblower Chelsea Manning said her explosive leak of military and diplomatic secrets that led to jail time in her home country and now a ban on entering Canada was not about being anti-American, but letting the public know what Western forces really did in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the war on terror.

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The distinction is important for her bid to be allowed to cross into Canada because her war sentence in 2013 in the United States did not allow her to defend the public interest — that her leak of classified information was beneficial and important — which is a path to protection against similar judgments in Canada.

Manning said she will come to Canada to visit friends in Montreal and Vancouver, speak at public events and attend computer shows for her consulting firm. The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) is seeking to get her to reject Canada because of her beliefs.

Manning described Thursday at an immigration hearing and described his extraordinary experience of becoming one of the most famous American whistleblowers.

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As a military analyst with the U.S. Army deployed to Iraq, Manning was responsible for leaking a huge crowd of groundbreaking military and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks in 2010.

In her job, she had access to information that revealed “a very significant difference” between the reality that was happening in Afghanistan and Iraq on the spot, and what was reported and discussed in public, she said during a hearing in the Immigration and Refugee Board . .

Trying to get her concerns addressed internally was not an option, she said.

“These are systemic issues and systemic problems; these are not questions you take with your captain, ”she said. “I came to the decision in 2010 to finally disclose information that I felt the public should know.”

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Manning began bringing discs to his office that looked like music CDs but wanted to burn data from military computer servers on them. She then took them to her barracks after her shift and copied the data to her personal computer.

When she was on leave back in the United States, she was looking for a way to bring the information to the attention of the general public.

“I was desperate to provide information,” she said. “I had information and needed someone to get it out.”

She said she reached out to her congressman, Chris Van Hollen, but got no response.

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She considered “much more ruthless” methods, such as releasing it yourself on a website.

She tried to give her information to the Washington Post, but found it difficult to communicate with the journalist, who did not know how to use encrypted communication and did not understand the need for it, she said.

She then tried the New York Times, but her leave ended before anything came out of it.

Then she remembered WikiLeaks, a whistleblowing site she learned about during military training, when instructors warned against avoiding it.

“I visited the site after an instructor in 2008 basically said ‘do not go to this web page’,” she said. “Instructor tells you not to do anything, of course you have to go and do it.”

So she returned to the WikiLeaks website in 2010 to share her documents.

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“I decided to upload them from a Starbucks attached to a Barnes & Noble near my home.”

She said she knew she would be in trouble.

“It would be very difficult,” she said when asked if she covered her tracks. “Either way, there would always be a forensic clue pointing at me.”

I was desperate to provide information

The military came after her and arrested her outside Baghdad in Iraq in 2010 when she was 22 years old. She was kept in a “tiger cage,” she said.

She had suicidal thoughts and an attempt, she said.

“It was a dark time.”

Then known by her birth name Bradley Manning, she said she had told a couple of close friends that she was transgender but “was still in the closet.”

Manning was convicted under the U.S. Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and sentenced to 35 years in prison, the longest sentence ever issued in the United States for leakage. In 2017, after seven years in prison, Manning’s sentence was changed by US President Barack Obama.

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“I spent most of my adult life in prison,” she said.

The IRB heard about the importance of the material she leaked, including an explosive video shown during the hearing, despite objections from public prosecutors.

The video shows 39 minutes of gunshots on board a U.S. military helicopter in Iraq in 2007. Soldiers killed 11 civilians on the ground, including two Reuters journalists who fired from the helicopter. Soldiers can be heard laughing during the incident.

After the first helicopter attack, a van came to help the wounded. It was also shot up by a helicopter and killed two children. Someone on board the helicopter says, “Well, it’s their fault to bring their children into the fight.”

The helicopter video contradicted official statements from that time. The military said the helicopter opened fire in response to an active firefight.

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Heidi Matthews, an assistant professor of law at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, testified that Manning’s revelations revealed “serious evidence of violations of international humanitarian law” and helped change the public’s view of the war on terror.

The documents revealed about 15,000 previously untouched civilian causal links and “strong evidence” that U.S. coalition forces, including Canada, were not truthful and transparent in their military activities.

“The reality was far more brutal, far more devastating and far more problematic,” than previously understood, Matthews said.

Manning’s status with the Canada Border Services Agency has been in conflict for four years.

The hearing is scheduled to continue Friday before IRB judge Marisa Musto.

• Email: ahumphreys@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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