Chelsea Manning, the American soldier jailed in 2010 for leaking information to Wikileaks, is finally free after serving seven years out of her 35 years sentence.

Barack Obama had announced the shortening of her sentence back in January after years of campaigning by multiple civil rights defense groups, including the ACLU and Amnesty International. This Wednesday, Manning’s legal team confirmed that she was safely released from the US military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

“After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived. I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me, is far more important than the past. I’m figuring things out right now–which is exciting awkward, fun, and all new for me.” Manning said in a press release.

Manning leaked more than 700 000 documents to Wikileaks, revealing various instances of misconduct by the US in the Middle East. Among the most shocking leaks was an infamous video of two American soldiers bantering about perpetrating an airstrike that killed 12 people, including two Reuters journalists, as well as evidence that the US military summarily executed a number of Iraqis and deliberately concealed the true civilian death toll of its attacks.

At the time, Chelsea Manning was only 23. She had not yet come out as transgender and she was working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad, under the name of Bradley Manning. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison, the longest sentence ever given to an American whistleblower.

Manning was detained with the male prisoners in a military jail and denied hormone therapy and treatment for gender dysphoria. The impacts on her were devastating and she had to be put on suicide watch. Four months ago, Obama commuted this sentence to time served plus 120 days in one of his last significant decisions as president.

While advocates for transparency and for LGBTQ+ rights rejoiced, others fumed, calling her a traitor who put US lives at risk. Then President-Elect Donald Trump was quick to tweet his displeasure:

(For those wondering, he was referring to a column in which she argued that the Obama administration should stop compromising their progressive stances)

According to the Obama administration, the four months delay between the announcement of a commutation and its effect is meant to allow detainees to prepare for life outside. Manning’s entourage started the “Chelsea Manning Welcome Home fund” for the same reason. Within three months, the GoFundMe campaign raised more than $163 000 US.

Surprisingly, Manning is still a member of the US army “on active duty”  until her criminal appeal is over. The Army Court of Criminal Appeals and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces both have to issue an official decision on her dishonourable discharge before it can take effect. Until then, she is on “involuntary excess leave” which means she is on unpaid leave, but subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

*Featured Image: Torbak Hopper under creative commons.

What are we to make of the Julian Assange drama unfolding in London these days?

Assange may be a hero or villain (I lean towards the former) to millions of people and internet users all over the world for establishing Wikileaks and exposing the hypocricy of governments’ (especially the U.S.’s) foreign policies, but, and it must be said, his decision to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, was not his finest moment. Though the gambit may have achieved its ultimate purpose of gaining Assange the sanctuary he set out for, it has also resulted in a stalemate between British police—who have an arrest warrant and a court order to extradite Assange to Sweden for questioning on sexual assault allegations—and what is probably the oldest of all international legal principles: diplomatic immunity.

While we may have some doubts about the thought process that would lead a man to take such drastic measures to avoid a possible trial, there is certainly no doubt about the legality of his current situation. He can not be removed by force from the premises of the embassy, period! This is enshrined in every form of international treaty (The Vienna Declaration, 1961) doctrine, case law (The Iran Hostage crisis) and international customary law (i.e. diplomatic immunity) you can name. No domestic law invoked by the British authorities in violating this sacrosanct legal norm, would make one bit of difference.

Of course, this won’t stop them from trying. The British government is already, citing the obscure Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act (1987) which it claims give it the right to enter the premises of the embassy if the state in question “ceases to use land for the purposes of its mission or exclusively for the purposes of a consular post.” The only problem is that such as law goes against every rule in the international legal rule book and isn’t recognized by any international court, anywhere.

Assange is still very much painted into a corner, though. He can do one of two things: stay put in the embassy and pray that the Brits are bluffing (more than likely) about the invasion threats. Or he can attempt some sort of daring cinematic escape to Ecuador (less likely, but a hell of a lot more fun!).

Either way, Britain should respect the age old principle of asylum and grant Assange safe passage to Ecuador, instead of listening to those in the U.S. (and Tom Flanagan in Canada) who view him as some sort of international terrorist mastermind. It’s hard not to conclude that the Brits’ hard line stance in this case is due, in part, to being pressured by the Americans, who would sorely like to get their hands on Assange for his part in any number of leaks that have embarrassed the U.S. government over the years. It also looks an awful lot like a double standard that would be almost unimaginable if this were a case involving one of the more important embassies in London (e.g. Canada’s) harbouring any dissident other than Assange.

*Photo from Democracy Now! (Under a Creative Commons license.)

Not quite sure if this is his first public appearance since getting released on bail, but it’s certainly the most interesting from Wikileaks founder/”enemy of the state” Julian Assange.

Following on the heels of The Rap News‘ initial take on Cablegate, the web video series hosted in rhyme by Robert Foster releases another musical take on Wikileak’s latest releases and this time the vid features Assange himself in a cameo.

This is kinda like newsmakers appearing on SNL for the progressive underground elements of the internet generation. Above all, it’s a clever, funny video…enjoy!

Since the Cablegate documents first started to trickle through the whistle-blower website Wikileaks a little more than a week ago, it has come under constant attack from government hackers hell bent on silencing the mouth of the website and its founder Julian Assange.

Online payment service PayPal on Friday blocked financial transfers to Wikileaks after governments around the world initiated legal action against the website. That shift came after Wikileaks’ domain name provider had cut off the site and servers belonging to had stopped hosting it. “If Amazon is so uncomfortable with the First Amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books.” WikiLeaks said.

The Swiss website,, has been handling a great deal of Wikileaks’ traffic since then, but on Monday it came under a distributed denial of service attack. Wikileaks, in a tweet to its followers on Twitter, confirmed it was having difficulty with its servers but did not elaborate.

To make matters worse, founder Julian Assange has received numerous death threats in the past week and has a warrant out for his arrest on charges of sexual assault in Sweden, a charge he has denied repeatedly. Whatever you think of the man that started the famous whistle-blowing website, no one can deny the impact the site has brought to corporate and government transparency.

I think that it is of vital importance that this website remains up and running not only in the name of free speech, but as a deterrent to keep the organizations that affect our daily lives both honest and proper. That being said, Wikileaks is trying to make it impossible for anybody to shut down the information that their website contains by having others mirror their site.

If you have a unix-based server that hosts a website, you can give wikileaks some of your hosting resources. “Wikileaks will take care of all the rest: sending pages to your server, updating them each time data is released, maintaining a list of such mirrors. If your server is down or if the account doesn’t work anymore, we will automatically remove your server from the list.”

This is the best way to ensure that the information Wikileaks shares stay pubic and free to everyone. No one can shut down the entire internet… although if someone could, Wikileaks would probably know who.

For information and instructions on mirroring the site, visit:

It seems like only yesterday I was writing about WikiLeaks releasing the Iraq War Diaries, a four hundred thousand page document dump about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, only a month later Julian Assange ‘s WikiLeaks is slowly releasing another two hundred and fifty thousand documents containing diplomatic cables between the United States and just about every other country on the planet.

For some reason   the diplomatic cables are receiving more attention by the press and greater condemnation from the Obama Administration then the revelation of further torture and civilian casualties that the Iraq War Diaries revealed. So much more important in fact, the media has even seen fit to give the cables a nickname “Cablegate”.

So far it seems the only real damaging cable is the one that says that the State Department asked its diplomats to collect DNA samples and other personal information about foreign leaders, a leak that could cost U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton her job.

Is Hillary Clinton at risk of losing her job?

The other diplomatic cables up until now appear to be nothing more than embarrassing foreign leader portrayals and facts that don’t come as much of a surprise. So far I would have to sum up “Cablegate” as something worthy of the political version of the National Inquirer.

Anyone who follows the news regularly already suspected North Korea of helping Iran with their missiles, already figured Saudi Arabia wants to put a stop to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and let’s face it, who hasn’t thought of French President Nicholas Sarkozy as “thin-skinned and authoritarian” or Afghan leader Hamid Karzai as “extremely weak.”

While the impact of these new leaks so far being negligible with minimal damage, it’s strange to me seeing all the hot air blowing out of Washington and the rest of the United States. Some see WikiLeaks as that gossip girl at work that just won’t shut up, while others such as hothead Fox News man Bill O’Reilly said those responsible for the leak should be “executed or put in prison for life”. Sarah Palin is blaming President Barack Obama for the leaks as if he can magically make Julian Assange disappear. Obama is currently looking into any legal steps that can be taken to stop further information from getting out. Clinton aside, he does stand to take the brunt of the embarrassment.

The Thin-Skinned Authoritarian

I don’t condemn WikiLeaks for releasing this new bit of info, in fact I hope they continue. It will be interesting to see in the next few weeks what else was said behind closed doors even if it’s just more bad language or protocol. Besides, I like seeing politicians and diplomats red in face.

The diplomatic game will obviously never be the same and maybe that’s the whole point to this story. Where ever you work, whether it’s at McDonald’s or the United Nations, one always should be accountable for one’s words whether or not these said words are spoken in public or in secrete. In this day and age especially, you never know where there might be a camera, a tape recorder or someone who knows how to use a flash drive.