U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been sent back to jail after refusing to answer questions before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Manning had been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in Virginia’s Eastern District to appear for questioning about her 2010 leak to WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of State Department and Pentagon documents about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning was imprisoned from 2010 to 2017 for the leak. President Obama commuted her sentence before he left office. We speak with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg about the significance of Chelsea Manning’s actions.
AMY GOODMAN: U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been sent back to jail after refusing to answer questions before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Manning had been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in Virginia’s Eastern District to appear for questioning about her 2010 leak to WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of State Department and Pentagon documents about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning was in prison from 2010 to 2017 for the leak. President Obama commuted her sentence before he left office. Chelsea Manning briefly spoke to reporters on Friday on her way into court.
CHELSEA MANNING: So, this is a contempt hearing. It’s a sealed hearing. The public isn’t allowed. The proceedings are going to happen in secret. The filings are sealed. So, can’t really talk about the specifics of what’s going on, beyond what we explained in the statement. But, you know, I’m pretty confident that we have a basis and a grounds on which to oppose this.
REPORTER: And you said in your statement you’re prepared to go to jail for this?
CHELSEA MANNING: If it comes to that, yeah. If it comes to that, you know, it comes to that. If it comest to going—you know, I might not leave here today, you know, free, so…
AMY GOODMAN: In a written statement, Chelsea Manning later said, quote, “I will not comply with this, or any other grand jury. Imprisoning me for my refusal to answer questions only subjects me to additional punishment for my repeatedly-stated ethical objections to the grand jury system.
“The grand jury’s questions pertained to disclosures from nine years ago, and took place six years after an in-depth computer forensics case, in which I testified for almost a full day about these events. I stand by my previous public testimony,” she wrote.
Well, on Sunday, Democracy Now! spoke with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg at his home in California.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: This is a continuation of seven-and-a-half years of torture of Chelsea Manning, in an effort to get her to contribute to incriminating WikiLeaks, so that they can bring Julian Assange or WikiLeaks to trial on charges that would not apply to The New York Times. It’s been speculated for years now that the secret charges, if they did exist—and apparently they do exist—against Julian Assange were under the same charges that I was first—the first person to be prosecuted for, back in 1971: violations of the Espionage Act, conspiracy and theft. It would be the same cases brought against me.
Unfortunately, bringing that against a journalist is even more blatantly a violation of the First Amendment, freedom of the press. And although Donald Trump has made it very plain he would love to prosecute and convict The New York Times, he doesn’t have the guts to do that, to do what he wants, fortunately, because it would be so obviously unconstitutional, that although his base would be happy with it and he would be happy with it, he would get into too much trouble constitutionally. So he wants to find charges against Julian that would be different from mine, because if he brought the same charges that he brought against me—in this case, against a journalist—it would clearly be found unconstitutional.
And so, Chelsea, having failed to give them what they wanted over seven-and-a-half years here she was incarcerated, or since, or in the grand jury—namely, false incriminating charges against WikiLeaks—they’re resorting again to torture, which does work at getting false confessions. That’s what it’s for. That’s what it mainly does. They want her to contradict her earlier sworn testimony many times, that she behaved in relation to WikiLeaks exactly as she would have to The New York Times or The Washington Post, to whom she went first, before going to WikiLeaks. And they didn’t pick up on what she was offering, so she went to WikiLeaks. But she took sole responsibility, not to spare them, but because that was the truth. And she tells the truth.
She’s a very patriotic person. I know no one more patriotic, actually, willing to risk and even give her own freedom, her own life, in order to preserve our constitutional freedoms and the Constitution. I admired her then. I admire her now. And right now she’s refusing to take part in basically a conspiracy against press freedom in this country, led by the president of the United States and the secretary of state.
AMY GOODMAN: Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, speaking on Sunday to Democracy Now! Ellsberg went on to talk about the historical significance of Chelsea Manning’s actions.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: We know the questions that were asked Chelsea in the day that she spent in the grand jury, and also were asked another witness, who did testify, David House. In both cases, they were asked only about their relations with WikiLeaks in 2010, nine years ago, long before the very controversial, and properly controversial, actions of WikiLeaks in the last year or two.
This was when WikiLeaks was putting out what Chelsea gave them, the video of “Collateral Murder,” which I urge people to look at. Now, I’m sure very few have seen that in the last nine years. What they are witnessing is a very typical, by all reporting, act of murder. And I say that as a former Marine operations officer who taught the laws of wars to battalion, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, at Camp Lejeune. And I would hope that anyone that I taught would recognize in that film that what they’re watching is a war crime, is murder. Not all killing in war is murder, but some of it is. And she revealed it.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: Clear. Clear.
U.S. SOLDIER 2: We’re engaging.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: Should have a van in the middle of the road with about 12 to 15 bodies.
U.S. SOLDIER 2: Oh, yeah, look at that. Right through the windshield! Ha ha!
DANIEL ELLSBERG: She also revealed massive, widespread torture being conducted by our Iraqi allies, with our knowledge and complicity, going on into President Obama’s term, from George W. Bush. So there’s a lot of resentment against her in the intelligence community and in the Army, in general, about the shameful things that she revealed. Also assassination squads, death squads, and corruption, in general, that we condoned in our allies, among dictators, like Ben Ali of Tunisia, who was forced out by nonviolent protest on the basis of Chelsea Manning’s revelations through Le Monde.
AMY GOODMAN: Daniel Ellsberg, speaking Sunday to Democracy Now! about Chelsea Manning. Ellsberg himself faced life imprisonment after leaking the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War. He was a high-level Pentagon official who obtained the papers while working at the RAND Corporation.
When we come back, we’ll speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.