Guess who is running for the U.S. Senate seet from the state of Maryland this year? None other than Ms. Chelsea Manning. For any who may not remember Chelsea Manning, she is the former United States Army soldier who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013, of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 classified, or unclassified but sensitive, military and diplomatic documents.
As an Army intelligence analyst, she had access to classified databases. In early 2010, she confided to an acquaintance that she had leaked classified information to WikiLeaks. That acquaintance, Adrian Lamo, informed the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, and Manning was arrested in May of 2010. Manning was ultimately charged with 22 offenses, including aiding the enemy, which was the most serious charge and could have resulted in a death sentence.
Manning pleaded guilty in February 2013 to 10 of the charges, and was convicted of all except ‘aiding the enemy’ on July 30th, 2013. She was sentenced to 35 years at the maximum-security U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. Including time served while awaiting trial, Manning had served just short of seven years when, in January 2017, President Obama commuted her sentence, calling it disproportionate.
Which brings us to yesterday, when it was announced that Ms. Manning has filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to run for the Senate in the November mid-term elections. She is running as a democrat, and in the primary will be challenging Senator Benjamin L. Cardin. Senator Cardin is the senior senator from Maryland, and in his last election bid won by 75%.
Now that you have the facts of the matter, let’s give this some thought …
The nearly 750,000 documents that Manning released to WikiLeaks were classified or sensitive. Some of those documents pertained to troop movement in Iraq and Afghanistan and could have potentially put at risk the lives of the men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The fact that she was sentenced to 35 years should be enough, in my view, to disqualify her from holding any office, let alone one of the most important in the nation.
After a bit of initial research, I can find not one single thing that qualifies Ms. Manning for the senate seat. She attended only one semester of college, and dropped out after failing her exam. She has no government experience outside of her military career.
To address the elephant in the room, Ms. Manning is transgender, having been born Bradley Edward Manning. As far as I am concerned, this is an irrelevant fact, and should not affect her candidacy one way or another. But the reality is that we all know it will. If Manning wins the democratic nomination, the democrats will lose the senate seat currently held by Cardin to a republican. The far right, the evangelical Christians, will pretend to be so highly offended, get their knickers in a knot, and be so morally outraged that the entire election will turn into yet another three-ring circus.
Though some have hailed Manning a hero for leaking classified documents, this writer fails to see it that way. My take is that she broke the law, she compromised national security, and risked the lives of many dedicated military personnel. And for what? She said she had leaked the cables “to show the true cost of war”. Sorry, it doesn’t fly.
She has been conviceted of very serious crimes … 21 counts of very serious crimes. So, it is incomprehensible that her candidacy will even leave the launch pad, right? Maybe. Or maybe not. It was incomprehensible that Donald Trump would be elected president. It was incomprehensible that Greg Gianforte would be elected to the House of Representtives just a day after beating up a reporter for asking a question. There have been so many incomprehensibles that … well, happened anyway … that I do not think anything is outside the realm of possibility. I am not alone …
Todd Eberly, a political-science professor at St. Mary’s College in Maryland, said Donald Trump’s unexpected rise to the presidency opened the door for political neophytes such as Manning.
“My initial thought quite literally was, ‘Donald Trump is president, Oprah Winfrey is the leading contender for Democrats in 2020, why the hell not Chelsea Manning in the U.S. Senate?’ ”
IF Ms. Manning had any qualifications for the job, and IF she were not a convicted criminal, and IF I believed for one minute that she had a well-planned agenda that promoted humanitarian/environmental values in the best interest of the nation, I would be happy to welcome her candidacy. Since none of those three criteria exist, I have to question why she is even throwing her hat into this ring. There is absolutely no way she will be able to beat any republican candidate, whereas Senator Cardin is considered a safe bet to win against a republican candidate. Surely she is smart enough to realize this? So, what is her motive? Publicity? Attention? Since she has refused to issue a statement or respond to calls from the press, we can only speculate at this point. One thing is for sure: her candidacy is certain to create chaos, not only in Maryland, but throughout the nation. We can only hope she has the good sense to withdraw her filing, or at the very least that she does not win the democratic nomination in June.