Chelsea Manning gave her first television interview since being released from prison last month, telling ABC’s “Good Morning America” she leaked intelligence because she stopped seeing “just statistics and information” and started seeing “people” in footage of U.S. Army operations in the Afghan War.
“You’re getting all this information, and it’s just death, destruction, mayhem, and eventually you just stop — I stopped seeing — just statistics and information, and I started seeing people,” Manning told “GMA.”
Manning continued: “Counterinsurgency warfare is not a simple thing. It’s not as simple as good guys versus bad guys. It is a mess.”
The former Army private and WikiLeaks leaker was released in May after a seven-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth. Manning had been sentenced to 35 years in prison by a military tribunal after she leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010 while serving as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army. Then known as Pvt. Bradley Manning, the soldier made headlines after WikiLeaks posted the information, which included evidence of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and emails sent by U.S. diplomats.
“I’ve accepted responsibility,” Manning said. “No one told me to do this, no one directed me to do this, this is me. It’s on me.”
Days after being sentenced, Manning came out as transgender and filed a lawsuit through the ACLU after the Army refused to provide treatment for her transition. Manning eventually received hormone therapy and personal items available to other women in the prison, but was still placed in solitary confinement, a punishment she was also forced to undergo while kept in Quantico prior to her trial.
“I had to be who I am,” she said before explaining that the hormone treatment “keeps me from feeling like I’m in the wrong body… I used to get these horrible feelings, like I just wanted to rip my body apart.”
Check out the video above.