Earlier today, a story was published in the Guardian by Ed Pilkington regarding Chelsea Manning's reaction to receiving the 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award. In this letter, Chelsea stated that she was not informed that she had received the award or that Col. Ann Wright was accepting the award on her behalf. She also indicated that she did not consider herself a "pacifist," "anti-war," or a "conscientious objector."
I had a phone call with Chelsea this morning. We discussed the letter that she sent to the Guardian. I reminded her that we spoke about the Sean MacBride Peace Award on three separate occasions: once when she received the award; once prior to Col. Wright accepting the award on her behalf; and once when the award was delivered into my physical possession and I informed her that the medal was made out of disarmed and recycled nuclear weapons systems. After being reminded of these conversations, Chelsea indicated that she did, in fact, remember the award and our discussions about it. She told me that she got confused when she recently received mail about the award, and assumed that people were writing to her about a new award. Chelsea told me that she has been feeling isolated and out of touch with the outside world during the indoctrination period at the United States Disciplinary Barracks, which is what led to her confusion over this issue. Due to this confusion, Chelsea said she felt the need to write her letter. She told me that she is sorry if her letter caused any offense to the International Peace Bureau, Col. Wright, or her supporters.
There are three other issues raised by Chelsea's letter that I would like to personally address. First, as mentioned above, Chelsea indicates that she doesn't consider herself a "pacifist," "anti-war," or a "conscientious objector." Rather, she considers herself a "transparency advocate" because she believes "the public cannot decide what actions and polices are or are not justified if they don't even know the most rudimentary details about them and their effects." Chelsea has never claimed to be anti-war; indeed she joined the military to defend her country. However, she is a humanist and was motivated in her actions not only by her transparency beliefs, but also by deep concern for the value of human life.
Second, Chelsea stated in her letter that any "official" statements would come from her through a signed letter or release. I discussed with Chelsea the logistical difficulties of her decision given that it is often necessary to respond to an issue in a timely manner. Chelsea understood my concern and is reconsidering her position on this issue. For now, I will continue to provide updates and statements by Chelsea on the issues that impact her and her confinement conditions. After having additional time to determine the best process going forward, Chelsea may choose to release an additional signed statement concerning this topic.
Finally, although Chelsea feels she no longer has any military rank, and would prefer being addressed as "Ms." within any correspondence, she understands that the exterior of any letter will need to be addressed to Bradley E. Manning. She also understands and supports the continued use of her military rank by the Private Manning Support Network.