As Iraq apparently erupts into civil war, Chelsea Manning wants us to think about war reporting. Serving a 35-year sentence for revealing classified information, the former Army intelligence analyst recalls in the New York Times how US journalism during the Iraq war was often upbeat compared to the nuanced or downright shocking information contained in Army briefings. For instance, "the American press was flooded with stories declaring the [Iraqi] elections a success" in 2010, Manning writes. But "reports coming across my desk detailed a brutal crackdown against political dissidents."
Manning was "shocked by our military's complicity" in that corruption, but the US media didn't report it. Why not? Because, she says, the military decides which journalists get embedded and vets them for "favorable" coverage. Those who break the rules (like late Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings) get "blacklisted," no appeal. So Manning wants an independent board—"made up of military staff members, veterans, Pentagon civilians and journalists"—to choose which journalists go into the next war zone. After all, "how could top-level decision makers say that the American public, or even Congress, supported the conflict when they didn’t have half the story?" Click for Manning's full piece.