First posted January 18, 2017
After fighting more than seven years to free transgender whistle-blower Chelsea Manning, her supporters are cheering the Obama administration’s announcement yesterday of her freedom to begin on May 17 – perhaps not uncoincidentally, the “International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia.”
From exposing the slaughter of civilians by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, to U.S. support for dictators and oligarchs in the Middle East, to illegal U.S. support of a 2009 military coup in Honduras, Manning is hailed by her supporters as a consistent champion of human rights.
Arrested and prosecuted by the Obama administration during what the New York Times called“an unprecedented criminal crackdown on leaks of government secrets,” Chelsea ended up being the longest-imprisoned whistle-blower in U.S. history. Her lengthy terms in solidarity confinement are considered torture by international human rights authorities. “Depending on how they are counted,” said the Times, “the Obama administration has prosecuted either nine or 10 such cases, more than were charged under all previous presidencies combined.”
In Chicago, Manning’s foremost supporters have gathered in the Gay Liberation Network, which has organized numerous Pride Parade contingents  and other protests themed around demanding her freedom, including one as recently as December 17th on her 29th birthday.
Here are reactions to the announcement of Manning’s impending freedom, from GLN members who have supported Manning since her 2009 arrest to thru the present day:
“Although I am grateful that President Obama has commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence, the fact she was prosecuted at all by Obama’s DOJ, persecuted at Quantico, and finally slapped with an outrageous thirty-five year sentence was just one more Obama betrayal of a 2008 campaign promise—this one involving the protection of whistle-blowers in order to promote something of great public moment, the people’s right to know what their government is doing in their name.”
“By the way, the American killers of Iraqi civilians in the infamous Apache helicopter video that Chelsea helped get released to the world—a video we would never have seen had she not—were never prosecuted; they didn’t spend a day in jail.”
— Roger Fraser, Gay Liberation Network
“Candidate Obama praised whistle-blowers and promised transparency, but Commander-in-Chief Obama declared “war on whistle-blowers,” and set about initiating new laws and conducting record prosecutions. Now we are to be grateful to the man who jailed the hero, Chelsea Manning?”
— Bob Schwartz, Gay Liberation Network
“From ‘postcards for Chelsea’ booths at Market Days to ‘Free Chelsea’ floats in the Pride Parade; and events from Buckingham Fountain to Leavenworth, KS: I’m so glad Gay Liberation Network has kept Chelsea in front of the Chicago LGBT community and can be part of this victory for all people.”
— Brent Holman-Gomez, Gay Liberation Network
“Chelsea Manning exposed not only Democrats’ and Republicans’ contempt for human rights abroad, she also inadvertently exposed the hypocrisy of many falsely-named ‘human rights’ organizations here at home. When push came to shove, the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBT Task Force and a host other LGBTQ non-profits showed their primary fealty was to their Democratic Party allies rather than to any notion of LGBTQ solidarity. While quick to make excuses for the failings of their political allies, the long years of LGBTQ non-profits’ silence about Chelsea’s often torturous imprisonment showed their bankruptcy as agents of genuine progressive change. The courage of Chelsea Manning stood in stark contrast to the political cowardice of the NGOs.”
— Andy Thayer, co-founder, Gay Liberation Network
More information about Chelsea Manning’s extraordinary contributions to human rights can be found here.