Chelsea Manning Running for US Senate - An Announcement With Mixed Reviews
Last week, former soldier Chelsea Manning, announced she was running for Senate in the
2018 Maryland Democratic primary. Formerly Bradley Manning, she is a transgender
candidate known for her 2013 convictions in violation of the Espionage Act, stealing
government property, violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, among other charges.
Manning saved thousands of confidential war documents while on deployment in Iraq,
then brought them back to the U.S. and released the information to WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy
website. She was sentenced to 35 years, but was commuted by President Obama after serving seven years.
The Big Deal
A convicted war criminal running for office is controversial by any stretch. Could she be
trusted with confidential documents? How will voters feel about supporting a candidate
with 22 charges formerly against her?
The biggest backlash seems to be coming from military members, veterans, and their
families. Many are reporting that Manning's actions are unpatriotic, put millions of
people at risk, and her actions went against the basic rule of being a soldier: don't share
our secrets!
What's more, Manning used her top level security clearance to obtain confidential
information only top clearance personnel could view. Things got complicated as some
documents were not labeled sensitive, but showed human rights violations, which
Manning said was her reason for blowing the whistle on practices she viewed as unfair.
When it’s all said, Manning is a convicted felon who's running for government office; she
may be in a position to obtain confidential materials after her history of sharing secrets.
Military spouse and government employee Tyler Leigh says, "As someone who holds a
security clearance, it's a slap in the face that someone who was convicted of treason is
running for office. I worry about the information she will have access to. She will have
access to the nation's secret information. What if she doesn't like what she finds out?"
Another military spouse, Blair EC agrees. "I understand not agreeing with your superiors,
but the documents shouldn't have been released. If you can't be trusted, then you
shouldn't be elected."
How She's Running
After serving seven years, Manning was relieved of all but four months of her sentence
by President Obama. Later, she publicly spoke about his "very few permanent"
accomplishments while in office, and that his presidency was "a warning about not being
bold enough" while in office. Others are publicly baffled by her statements against the
president who set her free. Is this another testament to her boldness or simply one more
layer to the nuance of her entire legal run?
The state of Maryland passed a law that allows convicted felons to vote, including those
on parole or probation, which gives Manning a potential 40,000 more voters to woo. As
her sentence was commuted, not pardoned, this has no affect on her eligibility to run
because her sentence was served. Previously convicted persons who have served their
sentences are legally allowed to run for public office.
The Other Side
There are those who are in support of Manning. She was the topic of a New York Times
opinion piece by Jennifer Finney Boylan, wherein the writer wrote of mixed feelings
regarding Manning’s candidacy, not because of her political views, but because Manning
had been mistreated as a transgender woman serving in a men's prison.
Linda Sarsour, anti-Israel activist, showed her support for Manning’s run by tweeting that
those against her political run are hypocrites, seeing Arizona candidate Joe Arpaio also
has charges against him.
Chelsea Manning’s Senate run is an announcement that's caused quite a stir among voters,
military members, and the general public. Time will tell if she will be successful.