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One had Manning, in the words of President Donald Trump, as an “ungrateful traitor.” The other positioned her as transgender icon and champion of transparency — a “secular martyr,” as Chase Madar, a former attorney and the author of a book on her case, recently put it to me. “Like, I’ve been so busy trying to survive for the past seven years that I haven’t focused on that at all.”In April 2014, the Army denied Manning’s clemency application, choosing to uphold, in full, her 35-year sentence. B., Raby wrote: “The idea that someone could believe they were a gender other than what they were born was akin to believing a chicken was a hat. However, as a Christian, I fully believe in showing everyone love and compassion, so we talked.”Raby admired Manning’s intelligence, her wit, her unapologetic weirdness. Manning visited his cell frequently to talk or vent or cry — taking care not to stay too long and violate the prison policy of one person to a unit. Manning, re: My Final Letter.” He scanned the first page. Raby notified a guard in the embroidery shop and handed over Manning’s letter.But in Manning’s presence, both narratives feel like impossible simplifications, not least because Manning herself is clearly still grappling with the meaning of what she did seven years ago. There remained the distant possibility of a presidential pardon or commutation, but Manning had no reason to expect one: The White House had condemned the leaks, as had the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. It was his first encounter with a transgender person; he recalls thinking Manning resembled a “sad, strange little man.” In a letter from the U. Manning wrote that she would kill herself after the base’s Fourth of July fireworks display came to a close. “About 1 a.m., I heard an announcement over the guard’s radio about an alert in Manning’s housing unit,” Raby told me.“I’m like, Oh, God, I’m in a lot of trouble,” Manning told me. She grabbed her belongings and followed the guards to the Special Housing Unit. up a short slope and onto the curved road that winds south, past the gates of the overgrown U. Close to 1 a.m., the Explorer drew to a halt in a parking lot, where Strangio and the veteran attorney Nancy Hollander were waiting. B., Manning put together 300 pages of memoir, and she’s acquired an agent to shop the draft around.“I don’t even know what the hell I’ve done now.”’ The prison’s head of security told her to come with them.“Am I coming back? Assuming she was going back to solitary, she started to take the shoelaces out of her boots. Manning was so eager to hug the two attorneys that she clocked Strangio in the face with her elbow. This fall, she will appear in a documentary called “XY Chelsea,” produced by Laura Poitras.Her crime, even in hindsight, was an astonishing one: handing Wiki Leaks approximately 250,000 American diplomatic cables and roughly 480,000 Army reports from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Crowley, an assistant secretary of state from 2009 to 2011, told me recently, “Julian Assange is just another fringe actor who resents what he sees as American hegemonic hubris.” To an extraordinary extent, Manning’s actions, in the words of Denver Nicks, the author of a book on her case, represented the “beginning of the information age exploding upon itself”: a new era in which leaks were a weapon, data security was of paramount importance and privacy felt illusory.Collectively the largest leak of classified records in American history, the disclosures cleared a path for Edward Snowden and elevated the profile of Julian Assange, then little known outside hacker circles. In January 2017, after being locked up at five different facilities, in conditions a United Nations expert called “cruel” and “inhumane,” Manning had received a surprise commutation by President Barack Obama.n a gray morning this spring, Chelsea Manning climbed into the back seat of a black S. A storm was settling over Manhattan, and Manning was prepared for the weather, in chunky black Doc Martens with an umbrella and a form-fitting black dress. She wore little makeup: a spot of eyeliner, a smudge of pink lip gloss.

“It wasn’t the whole story,” she told me, “ whole story.”Absent her own voice, a pair of dueling narratives had emerged. “Prison isn’t the best place for anyone who actually has actual emotions besides hate, anger, bitterness, apathy or indifference,” he wrote. Unfolding the note, which was folded and sealed shut with spare adhesive from a stamp book, Raby read the header: “Chelsea E.

When I asked her to draw lessons from her journey, she grew uneasy. The best option, Manning knew, lay in the formal appeal. “If you were trying to get them to be more gender neutral, they would make a point of being very gender specific,” Manning said. B., Anthony Raby, was seated at a bench in the embroidery shop, sewing name tapes for Army recruits, when a fellow prisoner dropped a note onto his table. Raby didn’t have to ask who the man was referring to. “I was pacing like a madman, sure they had not gotten to her in time.” Not wanting to aggravate the staff, Raby struggled to keep his composure.

But Manning’s fight with the prison authorities was grinding into its third year, and she was tired. And a request for gender reassignment surgery had been met with silence. B., in her mind, was “creating, often deliberately and knowingly, situations that cause high levels of stress on any given number of people. Good people break down.”In July 2016, one of Manning’s closest friends at the U. A former Army specialist serving three decades for the rape of a young child, Raby had first met Manning in 2013, shortly after her arrival at the U. Around a.m., he was approached by an Army investigator: Manning was alive.

We were many floors up, suspended in the storm clouds, and through the window, I could see the spires of the skyscrapers on the other side of the Hudson River.

Manning, who is 29, tapped an unplugged microwave next to the door and asked me to place my laptop inside: The Faraday cage in the microwave would block radio waves, she explained.

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A week later, she was returned to general population. She was also, she told me, most likely suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — from Iraq, from Quantico. She refused to leave her cell, she says, and the next morning, the staff carried on as if nothing had happened.

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