Chelsea Manning explains why she leaked classified documents

In her first interview since leaving jail, Chelsea Manning revealed what made her decide to reveal classified info

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published June 9, 2017 11:37AM (EDT)

Chelsea Manning (WikiMedia)
Chelsea Manning (WikiMedia)

Chelsea Manning is speaking out for the first time since being freed from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

During an interview with Juju Chang of "Nightline" on "ABC News," Manning explained why she decided to leak over 700,000 military documents to Wikileaks.

[salon_video id="14777848"]

"We're getting all this information from all these different sources and it's just death, destruction, mayhem," Manning told Chang.

As she explained, "We're filtering it all through facts, statistics, reports, dates, times, locations, and eventually, you just stop. I stopped seeing just statistics and information, and I started seeing people."

Manning said she was hoping her actions would inspire public debate: "I work with this information every day. I'm the subject matter expert for this stuff. You know, we're the ones who work with it the most. We're the most familiar with it. It's not, you know, it's not a general who writes this stuff."

She also said that working through the chain of command wasn't an option because "the channels are there, but they don't work."

Manning said she accepts full responsibility for her actions, a fact that contributed to President Barack Obama's decision to commute her sentence.

"Anything I've done, it's me. There's no one else," Manning said. "No one told me to do this. Nobody directed me to do this. This is me. It's on me."

She also said that she would thank Obama if she had an opportunity to speak to him, saying that "I've been given a chance. That's all I asked for was a chance. That's it, and now this is my chance."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, World War II historian Joshua Levine (consultant to "Dunkirk"), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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