Tags: chelsea manning | reform | new york times

Chelsea Manning's NYT Op-Ed Calls for Reform, More Access for Reporters

Image: Chelsea Manning's NYT Op-Ed Calls for Reform, More Access for Reporters
In this 2010 file photo, U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier convicted of giving classified state documents to WikiLeaks, is pictured dressed as a woman in photograph obtained on August 14, 2013.

By    |   Monday, 16 Jun 2014 08:10 AM

Chelsea Manning, the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning who's currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified government documents, has broken her silence by penning a new op-ed.

"I believe that the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance," she wrote Sunday in The New York Times.

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"In all of Iraq, which contained 31 million people and 117,000 United States troops, no more than a dozen American journalists were covering military operations," she wrote of her time stationed there as an intelligence analyst.

Manning has long pushed for more transparency in the military, and cites her document leak as part of that patriotic, albeit unlawful, effort. In this newest opinion piece, she focused on the current state of journalistic "embedment," that is, the access journalists have to be placed among the troops on the front lines of our wars.

Currently, reporters must apply with the military for embed status in places like Iraq, a process Manning said is highly biased.

"Journalists whom military contractors rate as likely to produce 'favorable' coverage, based on their past reporting . . . get preference. This outsourced 'favorability' rating assigned to each applicant is used to screen out those judged likely to produce critical coverage," she wrote.

If granted access and allowed to embed, members of the media are forced to sign a "ground rules" agreement, which limits their conduct for security purposes. Part of this agreement states that their embed can be terminated without appeal.

Manning acknowledges the importance of such security measures, however also says they can be and have been used to terminate reporters who write more critically of the war effort.

Offering an example, Manning pointed to the late Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings, whose embed was terminated in 2010 after he reported Gen. Stanley McChrystal's criticisms of the Obama administration. At the time, a Pentagon spokesman went as far as to say, "Embeds are a privilege, not a right," which was an egregious display of power in Manning's opinion.

After explaining this system and its current drawbacks, Manning issued a call for reform.

"The existing program forces journalists to compete against one another for 'special access' to vital matters of foreign and domestic policy. Too often, this creates reporting that flatters senior decision makers," she wrote. "A result is that the American public’s access to the facts is gutted, which leaves them with no way to evaluate the conduct of American officials."

The solution, she argued, is, "An independent board made up of military staff members, veterans, Pentagon civilians, and journalists could balance the public's need for information with the military's need for operational security."




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Chelsea Manning, the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning who's currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified government documents, has broken her silence by penning a new op-ed.
chelsea manning, reform, new york times
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2014-10-16
Monday, 16 Jun 2014 08:10 AM
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