Chelsea Manning to be barred from Australia

We haven’t heard too much from convicted traitor Chelsea Manning lately, aside from his attempt to be elected to the Senate in Maryland this summer. (For those who missed it, Manning was edged out in the Democratic primary by incumbent Ben Cardin in an 81 to 5 squeaker.) But that doesn’t mean that he’s not keeping busy. Manning has a speaking tour set up which will take the former Army private around the world. Those plans ran into a bit of a hitch this week, however, when Australia announced that Manning was persona non grata and would not be allowed into their country. (Associated Press)

Convicted classified document leaker Chelsea Manning will not be allowed to enter Australia for a speaking tour scheduled to start Sunday, her tour organizer said on Thursday.

Think Inc. said it had received a notice of intention from the government to deny Manning entry. The group is calling on her supporters to lobby new Immigration Minister David Coleman to allow her into Australia. While she can appeal, past precedent suggests the decision has already been made.

“Which after a little bit of research and speaking to our legal counsel, we understand is potentially an imminent refusal of her visa,” Think Inc. director Suzi Jamil told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Manning’s supporters immediately began claiming discrimination based on gender spectrum dysphoria or something, and I’m not going to deny the possibility that it might have played a role. Australia has been shifting to an increasingly right-wing government makeup lately, including the selection of a new Prime Minister after Malcolm Turnbull was ousted earlier this month.

But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t following their own laws. Australia’s Department of Home Affairs has specific requirements for any foreigners seeking entry to their nation and one of those involves a “character test.” Reasons listed for failing that test include “a criminal record or a determination they might pose a risk to the community.” Their visa rules specifically mention that a request can be denied if the applicant has a criminal conviction within the last 10 years for which they received a sentence exceeding 1 year. Manning clearly qualifies for denial under that standard.

The Home Affairs Department can make an exception if they wish, and they’ve done so for people with criminal records in the past. He could be issued a “special direction” visa which would avoid all of this disruption. But why would they? I’ll agree that Manning isn’t likely to pose any clear and present risk to Australia. If anyone down under was silly enough to share classified information with Manning given his track record they would have only themselves to blame.

But what does Chelsea Manning have to talk about that Australia’s own activists couldn’t speak to from a position of knowing their own culture? Transgender issues? They have plenty of LGBT folks of their own dealing with the same issues. (They just legalized gay marriage there last December.) Is he going to offer tips on how to steal classified documents and most efficiently copy them to Lady Gaga CDs?

In the end, the decision is Australia’s. And if you find yourself getting worked up over it, imagine if some other nation attempted to force us to allow a controversial speaker from their country to come to the United States and give a speech on the National Mall.

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David Strom 12:31 PM on December 08, 2022