Chase Strangio on Democracy Now (December 21, 2016):
From the interview – excerpted from the Truth-out.org transcript.
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about Manning, we’re joined by Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU. Chase Strangio represents Manning in a lawsuit against the Pentagon for denial of medical care related to her gender dysphoria.
Welcome back to Democracy Now! Talk about the call for clemency and where it stands now.
CHASE STRANGIO: Chelsea Manning has served six-and-a-half years in custody, already longer than any whistleblower who released information in the public interest to the news media in the history of the United States. She has petitioned the president for clemency. She, like we heard about Leonard Peltier, I do not believe, will survive much longer in custody — certainly not another three decades. And so, what we’re really looking at —
AMY GOODMAN: She has attempted suicide several times.
CHASE STRANGIO: She has attempted suicide several times. She has lived through brutal conditions of solitary confinement at Quantico. She was 22 years old when she was arrested, already living under trauma of anti-trans, anti-queer policies in our civil society and in the military, and then now brutal conditions in custody. Her life really does depend on Obama taking action now, and her supporters are calling on him to do so.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what have you heard from the White House?
CHASE STRANGIO: We’ve heard nothing from the White House. We are, you know, well aware of the fact that we have a month left before Obama leaves office. Chelsea herself is continuing to speak publicly. We are continuing to draw attention to the fact that in our country we have very — our carceral regimes are themselves mechanisms of death, and the longer that she is subjected to the conditions that she is living under, the less likely it is that she will survive. And the reality is that we have a very limited amount of time to take action to save her. And Obama, you know, can do the right thing here, not just for Chelsea, but to send a message into a future in which whistleblowers are going to be more important than ever. Chelsea Manning is a hero to many of us. And I hope that we recognize —
AMY GOODMAN: Why is Chelsea Manning a hero to you?
CHASE STRANGIO: Chelsea Manning is a hero to me because she is absolutely someone who stands up for what she believes is right. She speaks truth in the face of systems of injustice. And she is the type of person that we’re going to need in our government in the next four years, certainly, and we absolutely should take action to protect the whistleblowers, who very well could save democracy for us.
AMY GOODMAN: And you call her a whistleblower because?
CHASE STRANGIO: I call Chelsea a whistleblower because she shared information that she believed, and I believed, was in the public interest, that allowed us to better understand the nature of injustice that our government was perpetrating in our name, both here in the United States and around the world.