Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, the U.S. Army private whose divulgence of classified materials to WikiLeaks in 2010 resulted in his 35-year prison sentence, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Sam Adams Award for Intelligence in Integrity in Intelligence by an organization of former U.S. national security officials, the online publication Consortium.com reported.
The Sam Adams Association for Integrity in Intelligence voted to bestow the honor on Manning, an Army intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq in 2009. Manning released documents and videos that revealed previously undisclosed activities by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan, including a video showing U.S. pilots in a pair of Apache helicopters firing on civilians on a street in Baghdad in 2007, killing 12 civilians, including two Reuters journalists. The video created an international furor when it circulated on the Internet under the title, “Collateral Murder.” The Army had refused to release the footage when it was requested by Reuters under the Freedom of Information Act. A military inquiry reached the conclusion that the helicopter fire was in support of U.S. soldiers under attack and that one of the attackers was carrying a rocket propelled grenade launcher. Various news reports and commentaries stated that the WikiLeaks video had been carefully edited to conceal the presence of the weapon.
Manning, 26, was convicted by court martial in 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act, stealing government property, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and multiple accounts of disobeying orders. Now in military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Manning, who was diagnosed by an Army psychiatrist as suffering a “gender identity disorder,” announced in a press release the name change from Bradley to Chelsea on the day after the sentencing.
The award will be presented in absentia on February 19 at Oxford University’s Oxford Union Society in England. The ceremony will include statements of support from prominent whistleblowers. Previous winners of the Sam Adams Award include Coleen Rowley of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, British Ambassador Craig Murray, and retired U.S. Army Col. Larry Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Others include WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange and Thomas Drake, a former senior executive of the National Security Agency. Drake has praised Manning for having “exposed the dark side shadows of our national security regime and foreign policy follies.” The former NSA official condemned what he described as a “relentless campaign” by the Obama administration to “snuff out and silence truth tellers and whistleblowers in a deliberate and premeditated assault on the 1st Amendment."
The organization and the award are named in honor of the late Sam Adams, a CIA intelligence analyst who found during the Vietnam War that the U.S. Army command in South Vietnam was underreporting by as much as half the number of Vietnamese communists under arms. When the CIA agreed to go along with the military’s numbers, Adams strongly objected, describing the agreement in a memo as a “monument of deceit.”
Adams, a direct descendant of the Adams family of colonial Massachusetts, was a paid consultant and major contributor to the 1982 CBS documentary “The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception.” General William Westmoreland, who had been the U.S. commander in South Vietnam, responded with a libel suit against the network. An 18-week trial ended just before the case was to go to a Federal District Court jury, when the two sides agreed to a settle the dispute with a joint statement expressing both CBS’s respect for the general’s “long and faithful service to his country” and Westmoreland’s esteem for the network’s “distinguished journalistic tradition.” Westmoreland received no monetary compensation.
While still serving in the CIA (1963-73), Adams was a witness for the defense in the 1971 espionage trial of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony J. Russo over the unauthorized release of a secret military history of the Vietnam War that became known as “The Pentagon Papers.” A U.S. District Court judge dismissed all charges against both defendants, citing government misconduct in the gathering of evidence, including illegal wiretapping and a warrantless break-in and search of the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist.
“The bizarre events have incurably infected the prosecution of this case,” Judge William Matthew Byrne ruled in declaring a mistrial. Adams died at his home in Stratford, Vermont in 1988, “apparently of a heart attack” the New York Times reported in his obituary. He was 54.
Photo of Bradley Manning: AP Images