Chelsea Manning is holding out hope that President Obama will commute her 35-year sentence for leaking government secrets in his final days in office. While that decision awaits, the New York Times provides a look at Manning's life inside a men's military prison in Kansas. It begins at 4:30am, when she rises about a half-hour before men in adjacent cells to put on makeup and female undergarments. Her days are spent in the wood shop working on furniture or similar projects, and her evenings are spent reading and writing. “I am always busy," she tells the Times in a written response to questions. "I have a backlog of things to do: legal, administrative, press inquiries, and writing—lots of writing. Being me is a full-time job." But it's not an easy job, she says: "I am living through a cycle of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, loss, and depression," Manning wrote in her petition to Obama.
She also says her body has undergone "significant changes" as a result of hormone therapy inside the USDB prison at Fort Leavenworth. She's developed breasts, for example. Manning, who has had speech therapy and counseling but has not been allowed to have sex-reassignment surgery, says she is not abused by other inmates or guards. “It’s best to keep to yourself and try not to get involved in any drama,” she says, adding that's it's trickier in her case because guards are constantly watching her. (She's attempted suicide twice.) "But I’m used to it by now. I don’t feel threatened by the other prisoners. I have friends.” In a tweet Thursday, WikiLeaks again said Julian Assange would agree to extradition to the US if Manning is freed, per AFP. Edward Snowden has also called for Manning's immediate release. (Read more Chelsea Manning stories.)