The op-ed was published in the Time's Sunday Review, entitled The Fog Machine of War: Chelsea Manning on the U.S. Military and Media Freedom
If you were following the news during the March 2010 elections in Iraq, you might remember that the American press was flooded with stories declaring the elections a success, complete with upbeat anecdotes and photographs of Iraqi women proudly displaying their ink-stained fingers. The subtext was that United States military operations had succeeded in creating a stable and democratic Iraq. Those of us stationed there were acutely aware of a more complicated reality. Military and diplomatic reports coming across my desk detailed a brutal crackdown against political dissidents by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and federal police, on behalf of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Detainees were often tortured, or even killed. Early that year, I received orders to investigate 15 individuals whom the federal police had arrested on suspicion of printing “anti-Iraqi literature.” I learned that these individuals had absolutely no ties to terrorism; they were publishing a scholarly critique of Mr. Maliki’s administration. I forwarded this finding to the officer in command in eastern Baghdad. He responded that he didn’t need this information; instead, I should assist the federal police in locating more “anti-Iraqi” print shops. I was shocked by our military’s complicity in the corruption of that election. Yet these deeply troubling details flew under the American media’s radar.Manning goes went on to dissect the farcical practice of embedding journalists — explaining how the Pentagon uses the practice to create propaganda for domestic consumption that obscures the truth and how the military punishes journalists who are too critical in their reportage.