'In contrast to the solid, nuanced briefings we created on the ground, the news available to the public was flooded with foggy speculation and simplifications'
In an op-ed for the New York Times, WikiLeaks whistle-blower Chelsea Manning alleges the media is not reporting the complexities of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
She, Manning identifies as a trans woman, begins by explaining in 2010 she leaked more than 700,000 secret military documents ‘for my country and a sense of duty to others.’
The former United States Army intelligence analyst is serving 35 years for the disclosures, but understands she ‘violated the law.’
However, Manning maintains neither the US government or media are serving the public.
‘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,’ she writes.
During the Iraq elections in 2010, Manning maintains she saw military and diplomatic reports that showed the country’s Ministry of Interior and federal police, ‘on behalf of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki,’ harassed, tortured, and killed political dissenters.
These reports stood in contrast with news stories, which made it seem as if ‘United States military operations had succeeded in creating a stable and democratic Iraq.’
‘In contrast to the solid, nuanced briefings we created on the ground, the news available to the public was flooded with foggy speculation and simplifications,’ Manning writes.
One of the reasons for this distinction is the number of reporters attached to combat units. The military selected journalists with ‘established relationships’ with the armed forces.
Manning adds embed status was based on previous stories being favorable to the military.
She closes by suggesting a new way for reporters to be assigned to military units in war zones.
‘Transparency, guaranteed by a body not under the control of public affairs officials, should govern the credentialing process,’ she writes.
‘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,’ Manning continues.
This type of change ‘would be a powerful step toward re-establishing trust between voters and officials.’