Outgoing US President Barack Obama on Tuesday commuted the 35-year old military prison sentence of whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who passed sensitive American military and diplomatic secrets on to Wikileaks website. The former intelligence analyst will now be released from prison on May 17 after doing a jailtime of nearly seven years, according to news reports.
Manning was found to have helped made public over 700,000 US cables, with many of her leaked documents highlighting sensitive details of American-led military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Many analysts are viewing Obama’s decision to grant amnesty to Manning with surprise, as several diplomatic cables released by her to Wikileaks featured politically damaging allegations against Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.
Incoming president Donald Trump on several occasions in his campaign speeches referred to Hillary Clinton’s use of her private email server to handle classified defense information, one of several main reasons that is said to have dented her credentials as presidential candidate.The allegations against Clinton were part of the vast tranche of secret documents leaked by 29-year old Manning to Wikileaks.
Manning was among 209 other persons whose sentences was commuted by President Obama. The American president also reportedly pardoned 64 others, in a mass amnesty just three days before his eight-year old presidency comes to an end.
How cables leaked by Chelsea Manning affected India
Twenty-nine year old Chelsea Manning is responsible for leaking over 250,000 US diplomatic cables written between 1966 and 2010 by American diplomats working in 180 countries around the world. Known as “Cablegate”, the first tranche of the leaked cables was published by Wikileaks on Nov 28, 2010. Wikileaks reportedly claimed back in 2010 that it had more than 5,000 India-related documents, many of them giving a candid peek into the workings of highest echelons of the Indian political and security establishment.
Here are five instances that diplomatic cables leaked by Chelsea Manning through Wikileaks shook up India
1. Congress’ religious politics with terrorism
A Dec 2008 cable released by Wikileaks highlighted that the American diplomats were highly critical of ruling Congress Party in the wake of terrorist attacks in Mumbai on Nov 26, 2011, which were found to have been carried out by trained Islamist militants with active backing from Pakistan’s spy agency Inter Service Intelligence(ISI).
(Source: Youtube/Shailesh Desai)
A leaked missive with subject line “CONGRESS PARTY STUNG PLAYING RELIGIOUS POLITICS WITH TERRORISM” noted that Congress was trying to peddle a consiracy theory that the killing of Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare was linked to Hindu extremists. The Congress minority affairs minister, AR Antulay, had claimed after Karkare’s killing that he was targetted because he headed an investigation against Hindu fundamentalists. The minister’s comments were reportedly backed by senir Congress leader Digvijay Singh, before being officially retracted by the government.
“The entire episode demonstrates that the Congress Party will readily stoop to the old caste/religious-based politics if it feels it is in its interest. End Summary,” the cable read.
2. Rahul Gandhi’s statements comparing Hindu fundamentalist with terror group LeT
In a diplomatic cable published by the US embassy in New Delhi in 2009, American diplomats quoted Congress Vice-President(then general secretary) Rahul Gandhi as saying that Hindu fundamentalists posed a bigger threat to India than some radical Islamist groups, who he said enjoyed support among sections of India’s Muslims. The US officials noted in the report that Gandhi may have been referring to India’s current Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.
“The bigger threat may be the growth of radicalized Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community,” the secret cable quoted Gandhi as saying during the meeting, which was attended by then US Ambassador and Secretary of State, and reportedly by then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi.
The comments by Gandhi touched a raw nerve with large sections of Indian population, prompting Congress’ media spokesperson to issue an official clarification.
3. Hillary Clinton’s views of India
A 2009 US state department cable, reportedly authored by the secretary of state Hillary Clinton, referred to India as the “self-appointed front-runner” for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. The leak came like a bolt from the blue for the Indian government who had been chasing a Security Council seat as America had been very supportive of India’s bid.
After the cable was leaked in 2010, the US government issued a statement that their stand over India’s Security Council bid had evolved over time.
4. Pakistan-backed terrorists using nuclear weapons against India
A leaked American cable sent by Pakistan to Washington threw light on how Pakistan authorities were concerned that the sensitive nuclear weapons technology might be stolen by jihadist sympathizers within the government and passed on to terrorist groups.
The US authorities reportedly collated the information collected from Indian and Pakistan’s officials and came out with a finding that India’s military doctrine of “Cold Start” might possibly lead to a full-scale armed confrontation with possible use of nuclear weapons, as it expressed uncertainty as to how Pakistan, or Pakistan’s radical Islamist, would react to New Delhi’s limited military operation.
The cable also quoted a US diplomat telling Washington that Pakistan’s Army would keep backing Islamist militants and the Afghan Taliban.
5. Plot to assassinate Narendra Modi
A cable published in June 2009 claimed the Americans had information about a LeT plot to assassinate current Indian Prime Minister, then the chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. The cable also noted that the assassination plot was planned for soon after the terror attacks in Mumbai in Nov 2008.
“Pakistan-based Shafiq Khafa prepared in mid-June with India-based associate S J for possible operations in India. Khafa was looking for information on possible training sites in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala,” “Hussein, an India-based Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) member, continued operational planning on three tasks in early June The tasks were associated with a possible operation against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, the establishment of a training camp, and unspecified work involving a car,” the cable said.
The cable noted that mounting international pressure on Pakistan in the wake of 26/11 terror attacks had no bearing on LeT, who was keenly establishing bases within India to carry out their plot.