Manning: US lied about conditions in Iraq

WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning broke her silence on Sunday, writing the U.S. military’s control of the media gave the public a distorted view of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In “The Fog Machine of War,” an op-ed published Sunday in The New York Times, Manning writes that the concerns that lead her to disclose classified information have not been resolved.

“As Iraq erupts in civil war and America again contemplates intervention, that unfinished business should give new urgency to the question of how the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan,” Manning writes. “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.”

Last August, the former Army intelligence analyst was sentenced to 35 years in prison after she was found guilty of 20 offenses including wrongful possession and transmission of national defense information. At her sentencing hearing, Manning, previously a male named “Bradley Manning,” revealed her new identity and said she would begin taking hormone therapy.

Manning writes that despite stories declaring the March, 2010, election in Iraq a success, those stationed there “were acutely aware of a more complicated reality,” including the military’s “complicity” in corruption.”

Manning blames the problem in part on the process of embedding reporters with military units, which she says is “far from unbiased.” Manning writes that the process screens out those “judged likely to produce critical coverage.”

“Unsurprisingly, reporters who have established relationships with the military are more likely to be granted access.

“Less well known is that journalists whom military contractors rate as likely to produce ‘favorable’ coverage, based on their past reporting, also get preference.”

Manning writes that 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.”

“Improving media access to this crucial aspect of our national life — where America has committed the men and women of its armed services — would be a powerful step toward re-establishing trust between voters and officials,” she concludes.