Fort Meade, MD — On August 21, 2013 The Sparrow Project partnered with Jeff Wirth of Burning Hearts Media to produce Alexa O’Brien’s exclusive interview with David Coombs, lead civilian counsel for Private First Class Manning. An excerpt of this interview aired that afternoon on Huffpost Live and was cross-published on The Huffington Post. The next morning, 40 minutes of this interview aired on Democracy Now!. The following is Alexa’s interview with David in its entirety available for embed or download. We welcome bloggers and media outlets to use this footage as it is the only comprehensive long-form interview with Manning’s counsel and sheds an important light on one of the most historic and heartbreaking cases of whistleblower prosecution to date.
As Judge Denise Lind handed down a sentence of 35 years to Pfc. Manning the press pool was already framing the narrative of how the sentence would be reported upon from that moment forward. The prospect of Manning being paroled after 7 years (a hopeful one at best), words like “leniency”, and a misplaced infatuation with Manning’s private life started to bloat and leave little room for the ugly truth. Namely, that a young whistleblower who exposed war crimes was sentenced to decades in prison. A sentence which relied in part on a draconian application of the 1917 espionage act. This reflex by the media to eschew the complexities and embrace convenient or sensational headlines is why an interview with Manning’s Attorney on his terms with the journalist of his choosing was so important.
Regarding the use of male pronouns *
During the pretrial proceedings, Court Martial and sentencing of Pfc. Manning, Chelsea requested to be identified as Bradley and addressed using the male pronoun. In a letter embargoed for August 21, 2013 Chelsea proclaimed that she is female and wished to be addressed from that moment forward as Chelsea E. Manning. This interview pre-dates Chelsea’s public announcement.