Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks: New Film by the Guardian Tells His Troubling Story

30.5.11

To mark the first anniversary of the arrest of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower responsible for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified US military documents and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, the Guardian has produced a 19-minute film, “The madness of Bradley Manning?” telling his story, and including elements that have not been reported before.

Arrested in Kuwait on May 26, 2010, after computer hacker Adrian Lamo, with whom he had apparently been communicating about his activities downloading confidential material and handing it on to WikiLeaks, reported him to the FBI, Manning was held in solitary confinement in a military brig in Quantico, Virginia, for nine months from July 2010 to April 2011, when he was moved to Fort Leavenworth in Texas, where some social interaction is allowed.

The film is available below, as are cross-posts of two Guardian stories published to accompany it, Bradley Manning: the bullied outsider who knew US military’s inner secrets and Bradley Manning: fellow soldier recalls ‘scared, bullied kid’.

In the film and the articles — and of importance, along with new revelations about aspects of Manning’s personal life and how he was bullied in the military, and should have been discharged because, as a former colleague explained, he was “a mess of a child” — are new details about the lax security in Iraq, where Manning allegedly downloaded the material that he later made available to WikiLeaks — in particular, former colleague Jacob Sullivan explaining, “If you saw a laptop with a red network wire going into it, you knew it was on SIPRNet. If you had the password you could access SIPRNet. Everybody would write their password on sticky notes and set it by their computer. There is no wonder something like this transpired.”

In addition, Peter van Buren, a civilian reconstruction team leader on the base, told the Guardian that there was “a sense of a security free-for-all about SIPRNet” (the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, described by the US military (PDF) as “a system of interconnected computer networks used by the United States Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of State to transmit classified information (up to and including information classified SECRET).”

With these new revelations, the fears about Manning’s mental health while he was detained in Quantico, which sparked outrage in the US and around the world, and which I discussed in my articles, Is Bradley Manning Being Held as Some Sort of “Enemy Combatant”?, Former Quantico Commander Objects to Treatment of Bradley Manning, the Alleged WikiLeaks Whistleblower, On the Torture of Bradley Manning, Obama Ignores Criticism by UN Rapporteur and 300 Legal Experts and US Intelligence Veteran Defends Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks, are even more understandable, as he is clearly not someone of great mental resilience.

It remains distressing that he has had to wait so long for a trial, for which, as yet, no date has been announced, although he was initially charged in July 2010, and more charges were added in March this year, including “aiding the enemy,” which, theoretically at least, is a capital offense. As Wired reported last week, however, Adrian Lamo “is set to meet with the chief prosecutor on the case for the first time” on June 2, “mark[ing] the first outward sign that Manning’s court-martial case is proceeding apace now that a lengthy inquiry into his mental health has concluded.”

As Wired also noted, a military review board — known as a “706 board” — “had been requested by Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, to determine if his client suffered a ‘severe mental disease or defect'” at the time he allegedly downloaded classified information and leaked it. Rather alarmingly, given what the Guardian investigation revealedabout Manning’s mental health, “The board concluded late last month that Manning was mentally fit, clearing the way for an Article 32 hearing — the military equivalent of a grand jury — to determine if a court-martial trial against Manning should proceed.”

In the meantime, the Bradley Manning Support Network continues to publicize Manning’s unjust treatment. A rally will take place at Fort Leavenworth on June 4, and another creative campaigning initiative  — I Am Bradley Manning — has also been launched, with supporters invited to submit messages and photos of themselves holding up cards stating, “I Am Bradley Manning.”

Bradley Manning: the bullied outsider who knew US military’s inner secrets
By Maggie O’Kane, Chavala Madlena and Guy Grandjean, The Guardian, May 27, 2011

Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old army private from Oklahoma alleged to have been behind the biggest US government leak of all time, is now in Fort Leavenworth military jail, Kansas. He faces 34 charges, and if convicted could face a prison sentence of up to 52 years.

So why did the US army ignore warnings from officers that Manning was unstable? Why did it send him — a 5ft 2in gay man with a history of being bullied in the military — to one of the most isolated and desolate bases in Iraq? Why was security so lax on the base that passwords for secret military computers were posted on sticky notes nearby?

A year after his arrest, a Guardian investigation reveals a trail of ignored warnings, beatings and failed personal relationships that led to Manning’s arrest on 29 May 2010.

Manning, the son of a former naval intelligence analyst, Brian Manning, and his wife Susan, was brought up in the small town of Crescent, Oklahoma. Neighbours watched the family disintegrate as Susan Manning turned to drink to ease the final years of the marriage.

“I never saw her plastered, but … I’d go by there at two o’clock in the morning and the lights would be on. I think she did her drinking when he’d go to bed,” one neighbour, Bill Cooper, said.

In 2001, when Manning was 13, his parents divorced and he moved with his mother to her home town of Haverfordwest, in west Wales, where he joined the local school, Tasker Milward comprehensive. Small, geeky and speaking with an Oklahoma accent, Manning was an obvious target for teasing, and he reacted furiously to it, friends recalled.

“Bradley’s sense of humour was different to the rest of ours, whereby the rest of the school kind of goad and tease each other,” said schoolfriend Tom Dyer. “He was far too literal for that, and so would often snap back if he thought the joke had gone too far, which would cause laughter for everyone else.”

When he was 17, by which time he was openly gay, Manning returned to Crescent to live with his father, who had remarried. The software job his father promised in Tulsa didn’t work out — and neither did his relationship with his stepmother and her son. “I am nobody now, Mom,” he wrote to his mother.

In March 2006 his stepmother called the police, saying that he was “out of control”. Manning left home, and for the next year slept on friends’ couches or in his pickup truck in other people’s driveways, earning money in a series of casual jobs in restaurants and coffee shops.

Manning was keen to work with computers but quickly realised there would be no job for him without a degree. Joining the US army, he decided, would be his best chance of getting one as they would help pay for it through the GI bill’s provision for soldiers’ education.

“He joined the army because he wanted to go to university,” said Keith Rose, a friend of Manning’s from time he spent in Boston.He said the army’s attitude towards gay people did not put Manning off. “I asked him that night how he could join, given the army’s attitude towards gays. He told me he was a patriot but there were benefits too. He wanted to go to university.”

In October 2007, Manning joined up. He was far from typical soldier material. He was smart, gay, physically weak and politically astute. “He knew all kinds of things,” said Rose. “He was heavily educated in science. He knew math. He knew what was going on in the world.”

He enlisted in October 2007 and was sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, for basic training, but in just over a month he was moved to a discharge unit and on the verge of expulsion.

One man who befriended Manning in the unit, but who wishes to remain anonymous, explained what being in the discharge unit meant. “He was not bouncing back. He’s going home. You don’t just accidentally end up in a discharge unit one day. You just have somebody one day saying, ‘You know what, he is no good — let’s get him out of here’. There are a lot of steps to go to before you even hit a discharge unit.”

Manning was picked on, the friend said, and used to wet himself. “[Once] there were three guys that had him up front and cornered. And they were picking on him and he was yelling and screaming.

“We got up there — it was me and a couple of the guys — and we started breaking it up. We were saying, “Get the hell out of there, back off,” and everything — and started pulling Manning off. The other guys were taking care of the ones that were picking on him and stuff. I got Manning off to the side there and yeah, he pissed himself. It wasn’t the only time he did that, but that was the only time that I remember. It happened a few other times, the other guys will probably tell you the same story. Just a different circumstance.”

Despite the concerns of his immediate superiors, Manning was “recycled” instead of being discharged. The war in Iraq was in its fourth year and the army was short of recruits.

In August 2008, after training as an intelligence analyst, he was stationed at Fort Drum in upstate New York while he awaited deployment to Iraq. Here he was considered a “liability” by superior officers.

His weekends at Fort Drum were occupied by visiting his first serious boyfriend, Tyler Watkins, a student at Brandeis University, near Boston. Watkins began taking Bradley to events at his university’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender society, Triskelion, and introduced his computer-loving boyfriend to Danny Clark, a student at MIT. Through Clark, the Boston “hacktivist” scene — consisting of some of the world’s most prominent and smartest hackers — opened up to Manning.

Here Manning appeared to have found his place. He appears in photographs looking tanned and happy in Pika House, a clapboard communal student residence in the suburbs of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The pictures appeared in a Facebook album Bradley captioned: “Randomly hung out with some pikans.” Bradley’s snaps were mostly of the tie-dyed T-shirt wearing Clark. The rest of the pictures are of the jumble of gadgets, electronics and posters that cover the house.

The day Manning was posted to Iraq in October 2009, Watkins went to a gay march wearing a placard that read “Army wife”. Manning was deployed to Forward Operating Base Hammer, one of the most isolated US posts in Iraq, in the desert close to the Iranian border. Veterans recalled a desolate place built mainly from freight containers.

“There was a fog that would come in almost every morning that was pollution from nearby that smelled sour and nasty, and would just wave through and linger,” said Jacob Sullivan, who served alongside Manning at Hammer.

Hammer’s overriding culture was one of boredom and casual bullying, where bored non-commissioned officers picked on juniors. “They had a saying, ‘Shit rolls downhill,'” said Jimmy Rodriguez, 29, an infantry soldier who was stationed at the base with Manning.

For entertainment, soldiers would download porn to workstations or access footage from Apache attack helicopters showing civilians being shot at, often through SIPRNet, the classified intelligence network used by the state department and department of defence.

It was data downloaded from this network that would later find its way to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

According to Sullivan, security was extremely lax. “If you saw a laptop with a red network wire going into it, you knew it was on SIPRNet. If you had the password you could access SIPRNet. Everybody would write their password on sticky notes and set it by their computer. There is no wonder something like this transpired.”

According to Peter van Buren, a civilian reconstruction team leader on the base, there was a sense of a security free-for-all about SIPRNet.

“Soldiers would call it ‘war porn’ or ‘the war channel’ or just ‘war TV’. It was hypnotic to watch, even when not much was happening, just this lazy overhead view of the world around you. For many soldiers, it was all they ever saw of Iraq,” Van Buren said.

“I saw them using the SIPRNet for entertainment. That’s what most of the people did most of the time,” said Rodriguez. “They would watch these videos of different things and some of them were videos of helicopters attacking people or drones or whatever the case, or maybe fighter jets. But they were watching military footage.”

“We were pretty much bored all the time,” he recalled. “When you got to Iraq, we got to Baghdad and ended up in Forward Operating Base Hammer. They would [say to] us: ‘Here’s the videos; here’s the internet; here’s all the interesting games.'”

In January 2010 Manning went on leave and visited his friends in Boston, including Watkins. It became clear their relationship — one of the most significant in his life — was near its end.

That January, Rose recalled, “Bradley was really down. Tyler was like an anchor for Bradley and the one constant for that entire year. He gave me a two-hour earful about all the things in the relationship that he didn’t understand. He had gone in the military and come back and he didn’t have his relationship anymore.”

While his relationship with Watkins was souring, Manning socialised with Clark at the launch party for Builds — a hackers’ playground in Boston University’s computer science faculty where they would simulate unlocking codes and bypassing online security.

Film footage shows him leaning against a table — a soldier in his collared shirt, he looks very different from the grungy student hackers at a top university. Nevertheless, he appears comfortable inside this elite circle. Less than a week later, Manning was back at his intelligence analyst’s computer in Iraq.

“I live in a very real world, where deaths and detainments are just statistics; where idealistic calls for ‘liberation’ and ‘freedom’ are utterly meaningless,” Manning wrote in a final message to Watkins on Facebook. “I don’t have a real place to call home, except for a trailer with a bunk, a laptop, and an alarm clock. Please don’t let the LAST PERSON that I trust and care about go away. I haven’t given up.”

On 5 May he wrote of being “beyond frustrated with people and society at large”, and a day later, on 6 May, he wrote: “Bradley Manning is not a piece of equipment.”

On 7 May Manning was found in a foetal position in a storeroom after stabbing a chair with a knife as he tried to carve the words “I want” into the seat. He had punched his commanding officer, a woman, in the face.

He was disciplined and demoted and told he was to be finally discharged from the army on grounds of “adjustment disorder”. In the space of a few weeks, he had lost his job, his boyfriend and his chance of a university education.

During the following fortnight, Manning turned back to his computer and his hacker friends. He began chatting with someone who didn’t even know him, hacker Adrian Lamo.

In the early hours of 25 May, Manning had his last conversation with Lamo. The following day Lamo reported him to the authorities and he was escorted from his computer room. After three days of questioning he was charged in relation to the biggest intelligence leak in US military history.

The US military has refused to make any comment on Manning’s mental health record other than to confirm it is being investigated. He is due to be courtmartialled in December.

Bradley Manning: fellow soldier recalls ‘scared, bullied kid’
The Guardian, May 28, 2011

Below is the transcript of an interview with a US soldier who was with Bradley Manning in the discharge unit of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where Manning had been sent before he was due to be thrown out of the army in October 2007 — six weeks after he had enlisted. That decision was revoked and Manning ended up in Iraq.

Reporter: What’s the best way to describe you … How long did you spend with Bradley in discharge?

Soldier: Yeah, it was about two to three weeks.

Reporter: And you saw him daily, weekly?

Soldier: It was pretty much 24 hours a day as we were living together in the discharge unit of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Reporter: And when you say living together, how many people were in the discharge unit?

Soldier: The discharge unit [DU] at any given time had about 100+ men. It was basically one big room, it had a group of bunks, bunk-beds and that’s where we all lived.

He was being picked on — that was one part of it. Because you know Bradley — everybody said he was crazy or he was faking and the biggest part of it all was when rumours were getting around that he was chapter 15 — you know, homosexual. They’d call him a faggot or call him a chapter 15 — in the military world, being called a chapter 15 is like a civilian being called a faggot to their face on the street

The other part of Bradley’s outburst was withdrawing — because there wasn’t much of a happy medium. He was either all worked up or totally secluded — he didn’t really have very many moments of levity.

The kid was barely 5ft — he was a runt. And by military standards and compared with everyone who was around there — he was a runt. By military standards, “he’s a runt so pick on him”, or “he’s crazy — pick on him”, or “he’s a faggot — pick on him.” The guy took it from every side. He couldn’t please anyone. And he tried. He really did. You know what little interaction I had with him personally — it was like he was seeking approval. And he was really good with me but … there were three guys cornering him up front and calling him a chapter 15 — calling him a faggot. There were guys refusing to go in the showers when he was even in the damn latrine. I mean, it was childish and it was hateful and this guy wasn’t big enough to just stand up in your face and say: “Knock it off — quit picking on me”, and I’ll be damned but he tried. You know, there were several times which everyone called “emotional outbursts and tantrums”, but what it was was him saying, “Leave me alone.”

Reporter: What do you think about the idea that Manning was okay, wasn’t unstable? The army breaks people down — wasn’t he just as unstable as any other 18-year-old going through that process? Do you agree?

Soldier: No I don’t, I don’t agree with that at all. He wasn’t a soldier — there wasn’t anything about him that was a soldier. He has this idea that he was going in and that he was going to be pushing papers and he was gonna be some super smart computer guy and that he was gonna be important, that he was gonna matter to someone and he was gonna matter to something. And he got there and realised that he didn’t matter and that none of that was going to happen.

Reporter: Did you get the sense that he was disappointed because it wasn’t what he expected it to be?

Soldier: I never once got the feeling that he was disappointed because nobody noticed him. You noticed him. I mean, you could have picked him — within an entire formation of 160 people between the rehab side and the discharge side — in 160 people, you picked Bradley out first. He was the smallest. It wasn’t that he wasn’t noticed but that he was noticed too much.

Reporter: What’s it like to be gay in the DU — in practical terms?

Soldier: For Bradley, it was rough. To say it was rough is an understatement. He was targeted, he was targeted by bullies, by the drill sergeants. Basically, he was targeted by anybody who was within arm’s reach of him.

There was a small percentage, I’d say maybe 10-15 guys tops, who didn’t care what chapter he was, who just wanted to coexist until they could get out and just get along. But the rest of them — we’re talking mentally unfit. Some of them were there for criminal charges. Everyone who was there was getting kicked out. And between being mentally unfit and mentally unstable and being criminal, and then being locked in this room with the guys saying, “Oh, here’s this little guy” — it was open season on him. Being gay — being Bradley Manning and being gay in the DU — it was hostile. He was constantly on edge, constantly on guard.

Reporter: Why do you think he wasn’t discharged and what was your reaction?

Soldier: I was home for two or three weeks when I got a phone call from one of my friends who was actually still at the DU. He called me from a cell and he was giving me the updates, telling me what was going on and then he said: “Oh, by the way, Bradley is getting recycled.”

And I was in shock, I couldn’t believe it — there’s no way that this guy’s getting recycled — it wasn’t happening. And he was like, “No, he’s going back.” And I was like, “How does he feel about it?” and he said, “Oh, he’s great — you know, he’s happy about it.”

I don’t know how that happened, I don’t know when that happened because he didn’t want to be there and they didn’t want him there — he was going home. And then all of the sudden, I’m gone and I’ve gotta start hearing about how he’s going back. I was shocked and I was angry — I mean, not angry mad, but angry like frustrated and disappointed. You know, because the system failed, they let him down: he should never have been recycled.

Reporter: Why not? Would he not have a made a good soldier in the end?

Soldier: Bradley was not a soldier. Bradley was never a soldier. Bradley is never going to be a soldier. People who become soldiers are protectors, there’s a mindset to it. You know, Bradley wasn’t somebody (in my personal opinion and experience) who protects people, he’s not somebody who should be protecting people. He is somebody who needs protecting.

He’s not a soldier, he’s one of those guys that you watch out for and you take care of him. He’s not somebody I’d want next to me when I kick in a door. Bradley Manning was not one of those guys who you wanted next to you in a life or death situation. He wasn’t then and I don’t think he is now. I just keep seeing these pictures on the news and all these pictures on his Facebook, where they show him all smiles or with a slight smirk or he’s serious. All I ever keep seeing is this red-faced kid with bloodshot eyes just gritting his teeth and yelling and sweating. All I keep seeing is this scared kid. So it’s tough to describe…

They have all these beds and bunks that are all lined up and at the front there’s a common area. It’s not much of a common area but there’s a desk and doors, bathroom, storage room and then the entrance to this place. And there were three guys who had him cornered up front, and they were picking on him and he was yelling and screaming back.

And we got up there — it was me and a couple of other guys who went up there to start breaking it up — and I’m yelling, “Get the hell out of there, back off.” And I started pulling Manning off him while the other guys were taking care of the ones who were picking on him. And I got Manning off to the side and, yeah, he pissed himself — you know. That wasn’t the only time he did that, but that was the time I remember. It happened a few other times, I know a couple of guys who could tell you the same story, just different circumstances.

There were two occasions. One was when Manning was escorted to hospital for psych evaluation. They have what they call battle buddies. When you are on basic training you cannot go anywhere by yourself: you have to have someone with you at all times. One person. So, if you go anywhere you have to have someone with you.

When a chapter 15 has to go to see the JAG [Judge Advocate General] and have their teeth checked. When anybody goes anywhere in the entire discharge process, they have to have another soldier with them, a battle buddy. Nobody wanted to be Manning’s battle buddy. Nobody would escort Manning anywhere.

Why he was there in the first place in the DU, none of us know. They don’t tell the privates in the DU who is coming in today and here’s why they are coming in. It’s just, here’s new meat for the grinder for the most part. But the rumours were that Bradley was there because he was crazy. He was mentally unfit. I believe it was called chapter 17.

Reporter: Do you think his commanders should have kicked him out of the army? Should his commanders have spotted he wasn’t suitable and gone ahead with the discharge?

Soldier: They should have gotten rid of him. I do not understand the justification or what excuses they had to keep him around. He was a wreck, he was a complete wreck.

Reporter: Every single soldier at the end of basic training is supposed to be a wreck, are they not? Why was Manning different?

Soldier: The general concept of basic training is to take the citizen or take the boy, or the man, or the woman — take the person and break them down emotionally and rebuild them in the army’s image. I mean that’s basic training. There’s the mental break. Manning was not your typical mental break. It wasn’t a matter of I’m homesick or I’m a baby boy and I miss my Mummy. This was trauma. And the worst part about it is that the moment that anybody senses or sees weakness, it is like being in the water for sharks. I mean, they just dive all over it and compound it. You either bounce back from that or you don’t.

He was in the DU. That means he was not bouncing back. He was going home. You don’t just accidentally end up in a Discharge Unit one day. You have somebody saying, “You know what, he is no good — let’s get him out of here. There are a lot of steps to go to before you even hit a DU let alone before you from a DU to a bus or plane home. He wasn’t broken in the conventional sense, he was traumatised

Reporter: Why was it so traumatic for Bradley?

Soldier: He was small, he was gay and he was a gay in hiding. You don’t get into the military if you are gay. If you are gay and in the military, you lied to the military to get in. The recruiter told you, “Oh, don’t say that,” or someone coerced you and you ended up hiding that part of yourself. He was already a mess of a child to start with. Then you get him in there and expose him to sleep deprivation. When you are already unstable. When you are already incapable of having that mindset of suck it up and adapt and overcome. A soldier in basic training doesn’t know that they are a soldier — they just know they have seen one too many war movies, played one too many war video games or listened to Toby Keith too much.

Here’s the reality: basic training is, we build you down then we break you up — or we break you down and we build you up. Manning was not coming back up.

Reporter: You were just explaining to us the fact that you went through an experience that left you in the discharge bay as well, and that you are not mad at the army or the US government but you think there is something seriously wrong with a system that redeploys unfit soldiers. Could you just run that by me again?

Soldier: It’s not the redeployment, it is the recycling. There is something wrong with the system. First off, I was in the DU for a month and in that entire month not one person was recycled from the DU. When I got out, I went home and I was getting periodic phone calls from the guys. Bradley was the only one who got recycled. And like I said, for the life of me I still don’t understand how and why.

Anybody can figure out that this kid should not have been there. He didn’t have the mind or the mindset for it. A lot of hands were involved when it came to the decision of keeping him in. He was actually glad about the fact that he was going back.

Somebody managed to convince him or tell him the right story, or something so that he managed to end up being glad to be getting back in the system. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what the trigger was. There are a lot of steps and people you have to talk to and things to sign and go through just to get from the barracks to a DU, let alone from the packet building in the DU to actually going home.

I think I am saying what is wrong with the system. Why was the US army in such a mess that they were recycling the likes of Bradley Manning?

I know for a fact that in 2007 recruiting numbers were the lowest they had ever been. They were lowering recruitment standards like crazy. I mean, facial tattoos, too tall, too short, too fat, criminal record — it didn’t matter. They even upped the age limit. You could be 42 years old and still enlist for basic training. It was take everybody you could get. Keep hold of everybody you can get. Bradley Manning should never have cleared any of those hurdles to even get into the military. And then he is in and it is a colossal failure and everyone knows it. And they say, right let’s get the ball rolling, file the paperwork and get him to a DU.

Discharge in the US army means fired. AWOL means “I quit” and the military would much rather have a higher number of people discharged than gone AWOL. Because with discharge they can say, “Oh well, they weren’t good enough so we got rid of them,” and the money keeps flowing in. Bradley should have been discharged, he was in the DU to be discharged. He was going home but they kept him in. Why did they keep him in, who thought that was a rational decision?

It went to the first sergeant and company captain. They signed off on it and the whole packet began. Physical doctors and mental health professionals failed on him. Then you have the cadres, the drill sergeants in the DU: they failed on him. The first sergeant and the company captain at the DU failed him. The judge advocate group that everyone in discharge had to go through, they failed him. That is a lot of people in a lot of offices and this is for a boy who is pissing his pants and curled up in a foetal position on his bunk and constantly screaming or in terror. There are a lot of people and a lot of steps that got missed. That’s what I am talking about with the system, or my frustration with the system and how all this happened.

And yet he was in a DU and the army almost got rid of him. You know, they have no one to blame for everything that’s going on except themselves. That’s the only reason I’m saying anything. I can’t help Bradley out. I tried to help him out then. A few others of us did but I can’t do anything to help him. I’m not doing anything to attack the army or the government or the system or anything. I’m just saying a lot of people let him down. He is not the first one they let down and he is not the last one. That shit is going on right now at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. It is going on at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and it is going on everywhere there is a training facility. I appreciate you guys taking the time.

You can’t get mad at the bull for wrecking the china shop when you have trapped the bull inside it. Bradley should never have been there. They had the opportunity to get rid of him and they didn’t. That was October and November 2007. It is now 2011 and all we are hearing about is Bradley, WikiLeaks, and he is the bad guy.

But the reality is that he should have never have been there. There are a lot of steps and a lot of people who let him down. Me and a few others in the DU tried to help him wherever we could. I’m not doing this because I am lashing out or I’m angry with the government or the system or anything else. I’m disappointed about the fact that no one has said anything to this day about how he was in a DU and that the army was going to fire him, they were going to get rid of him.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here — or here for the US), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

54 Responses

  1. Nigel Parry says...

    Bradley Manning’s mental state is irrelevant, even if it were a factor. It often takes the downtrodden to recognize their part in the downtreading of others and thus drum up the courage to do the right thing with whatever means lie within their grasp. He had access to a giant Lady Gaga CDR in the sky that contained a golden lie detector. Any perspective Manning’s painful life experiences added were a gift, not an infirmity. Look at the fruit of what has already been achieved with just 5.3% of the Cablegate release out there.

    He has already given tens thousands of people a measure of the actual hope & change that they had been told to expect, his alleged act indeed “sparking worldwide debate” about many aspects of American relations with the world. An unhealthy power imbalance was being righted. Whether Bradley Manning pissed his pants at some point along the road really has nothing to do with the bigger picture.

    People had got the opposite of hope and change from Obama who went on from 8 years of Bush administration warmongering to not close Guantanamo, his first day in office promise, and has indeed extended war, and presided over the largest military expenditure in the history of the world. 50% of our taxes go to war in one way or another. That should makes no sense to anyone, no matter how you look at it. That’s too much. There is not even a hint of war on any of our land borders.

    The cables, war logs and video allegedly leaked by Manning have given people—not so much what they didn’t know—but rather tangible proof of governments colluding with a whole host of wrong-doing. Being an American record, it also holds the US to a light that it clearly doesn’t want to be held in. And for people to be able to finally grasp in-my-actual-hands evidence that the same government that arms Lybia’s regime with modern weapons, privately laughs at Ghaddafi as a dangerous cartoon character. I say, Valet! Give my keys to that drunk man over there.”

    Mostly, Cablegate seems to have been a download of common sense, that has made and will make it harder for the US to carry on as before—assuming the people who are reading the cables are realizing what they have in their hands. And that’s the part of the story where the jury is out. Wikileaks has mostly chosen to confer cable sets (ie. all cables from a specific embassy) to mainstream media with a literal handful of independent bodies included.

    So there’s less grassroots reporting on this than there should be. And you end up waiting forever for info on the region you are interested in. Look at Egypt. They even had a revolution and now, as the Egyptian people are trying to forge new relations with old regime friends, the entire Cairo Embassy dataset is still not on the Internet. Wikileaks is inexplicably holding out when there’s an opportunity to do a good thing. Only 5.3 percent of the total 251,000 cables have been released.

    As a result, we’re dominated with media discourse like this Guardian Bradley Manning hatchet piece, or the media talking to Julian Assange’s pants, and the cable content is being marginalized. Part of that is down to the way Wikileaks is playing an almost exclusively independent media-free strategy, and is finding the mainstream media, even apparent allies, are perfectly prepared to throw you under the wheels when you have been deemed to have given up enough data to no longer be useful. If they are going to adapt, they need to do it now.

    I thought the Guardian portrait of Manning was beneath contempt. It had nothing new going on for it bar a few boring interviews with a few old friends, and some fuzzed out army buddies saying Manning was a washout. Instead of anything genuinely new, the Guardian turned it into a horrible ‘falling man’ portrait, arguably offensive to gay people and specifically gay people in the military, and amazingly without emphasizing any of the positive qualities the young soldier showed by (allegedly) leaking all the material.

    While learned more from the Guardian about how smart he was and how he liked politics as he grew up—and to be fair, that part of the back story was fleshed out more than in other portrayals, eg. the headmaster interview was unique and positive. But other than that, you got the feeling it was building a case that Manning was a gay nutjob and everyone should have seen it coming.

    One may try to argue that blaming the army for “letting him go to Iraq” is the Guardian’s way of trying to do something ‘positive’, by saying to those who are prosecuting the case, “you can’t blame him without blaming yourselves.” But then you would have to contend with the other main failing by the Guardian in this piece: Manning’s mistreatment in Quantico.

    Not so much the mistreatment but Manning’s narrative of respect for his jailors and his own steadfastness you can see in the holiday letter he sent out, in the text of the motion about his mistreatment filed by his attorney that was preempted by his transfer to Kansas, and in his friend David House’s reports, which were the first to alert the world to Manning’s mistreatment.

    I’m spending this year’s Memorial Day at an Iraq Veterans Against the War barbeque. Seemed very appropriate. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Khia says...

    From what I read about Bradley Manning and what he endured in the military, the sanity of the US military should be questioned, not the sanity of Bradley Manning.

    BTW, I would think most people agree that when it comes to “madness”, Adrian Lamo is a prime candidate.

    Regardless, all those stories about the people involved detract from the abuses, war crimes and govenment lies that Bradley Manning allegedly exposed. And that is very much to the liking of the abusers.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Nigel and Khia. I have to say that I had no intention of ignoring the importance of what was contained in the leaked documents, as should be apparent from my work with WikiLeaks on the Guantanamo files, and nor did I intend to deliberately overlook what happened to Manning in Quantico, as mentioned in my intro, with links to the articles I’ve written about that particular topic.
    I did think that the Guardian raised valid points about how the US military failed to pay attention to Manning’s abuse by his fellow soldiers, thereby neglecting to discharge him, and I was also interested in the sections highlighting the lax computer security in Iraq, although I realize that it’s possible to have different interpretations about these elements as well, as can be seen from some of the comments on Facebook, posted below.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Lizzie Cornish wrote:

    ‎’shared’, Andy… thank you.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Fahad Nisar Rana wrote:

    Much Appreciated Andy. =D

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Fufu Peace Messenger wrote:

    Done!

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Listening etc in several minutes.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Christine Casner wrote:

    Thank you, Andy. It is a strange mix of emotions here in the US today. A wreath at Arlington Nat’l Cemetary in a few hours — and i mean no disrespect to veterans or active duty people, but ought we not to be “honoring” ALL affected by these occupations?? I simply have nothing else to say, not on this day. Peace, sometime, maybe?? Ever?? Never?? ♥♥

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Christine Casner wrote:

    Great mini-doc’y, Andy!!!!!! Shared!!!!! ♥♥

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Damian Fortieth ‎wrote:

    100% tabloid garbage! I’m quite surprised you would pass this off as good journalism, Andy. I had hoped someone of your experience would not stoop so low and so irresponsibly ignore the war crimes that he’s accused of bringing to light, and ignore the crackdown on journalists and whistle blowers by a belligerent and terrorist state and, instead, assassinate the character of a man who upheld the highest principles and ethics of his command. That you should be smearing the character of Bradley Manning instead of focusing on bringing justice to Criminal Obama and the criminals who continue to murder civilians for NATO and the US is so disappointing! I’m sorry to voice my disgust, but it needs to be voiced. I’ve certainly made serious mistakes in my life, so I’m not perfect either, by a long shot. I’m more than happy to forgive and forget if you would kindly remedy this tragic error in judgement.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    H.p. Albarelli wrote:

    we need a FB group devoted to your work, Andy…

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Lisa Barr wrote:

    I am not going to ‘dig’ this, Andy. It seems like a hit piece on the kid. He’s facing charges. I don’t like seeing the alleged evidence against him presented as ‘fact’ complete with narration.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Lisa Barr wrote:

    I think it’s probably ‘true’ but right now–when he’s on trial, this could be problematic, no?

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the comments, my friends. I’m sorry, Damian, that you found it so poor, and, Lisa, that you saw it as a “hit piece” on Manning, and one that was particularly reckless because it presented allegations as facts. As I mentioned above, my purpose in cross-posting this was not to ignore the importance of what was leaked (as should be obvious from my work on Guantanamo with WikiLeaks), nor to ignore what happened to Manning in Quantico, which I’ve written about at length.
    I didn’t see the Guardian’s film and articles as a hatchet job, or as prejudicial to Manning’s forthcoming trial. Maybe that was a failure on my part, but I genuinely thought that the Guardian raised valid points about how the army abuses vulnerable recruits, and I was also interested in the reports of the lax computer security in Iraq, and I thought both of these aspects of the story were important.

  15. Peace Activist says...

    I can only say I’m a big Andy Worthington and Guardian fan. Maybe they do not always focus on all of the parts that appear most important, but they’re still good and important. From my perspective Andy Worthington and the Guardian brought me a very interesting and enlightening story; because it added to and strengthened knowledge I already had. Each person will appreciate such articles according to their personal knowledge and interest; hence some will appreciate a given article more than others.

  16. Jon Adams says...

    If Bradley Manning was a loner, was unbalanced — what does that have to do about anything?

    What about the crime, the rot that he revealed?

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Damian Fortieth wrote:

    Andy, thank you very much for your kind reply. I deeply respect your qualifications as a journalist. I have no qualifications whatsoever, and therefore I have no business requesting you to make different editorial decisions based on my own personal preferences. However, in this particular case, I am struck by the almost total lack of vision here with regard to the mental health question. It’s just incredible to me how few in the journalistic profession give any thought to the mental health of the people at Quantico in charge of administering BM’s torturous treatment or ordered it, or to anyone who sat around in Iraq getting off watching videos of Americans murdering children and journalists for fun, or was one of at least 4,000 soldiers who took trophy pictures with those they had just murdered. The fact is, every single human being, every man, woman and child have mental health issues at one time in their lives or another. To somehow be holier than thou and claim that we’re all superior because Manning had a burst of anger is absolutely inane and disingenuous. The pot LOVES to call the kettle black. Society has to be grown up enough to look beyond political persecution and examine the biggest issue of all: we may have to eventually come to recognize that our gov’t is the biggest, most powerful terrorist organization of them all. The fact that BM is one of the very few who had the courage to report the war crimes perpetrated by our military tells me that he is probably a member of the very few in the military who are actually sane. And the fact that Manning apparently did NOT crack under the prolonged duress of solitary confinement at Quantico gives lie to the notion that he is a weak individual. Weak, indeed, are those who failed to report the atrocities perpetrated by our state!

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Damian Fortieth wrote:

    The technical term for it, I believe, is scapegoating. It’s blaming others for what (the rhetorical) ‘you’ yourself are guilty of. This persecution of Manning seems to me to be a classic case of it.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Damian,
    Thanks for the reply.
    In the Guardian’s defense, this investigation was specifically about Bradley Manning’s mental health, and as such it shouldn’t be expected that it would discuss the bigger picture of the mental health of those responsible for imprisoning and torturing him in Quantico, or those who got their kicks looking at “kill” videos, in Iraq. I also know that the Guardian has previously covered Manning’s torture in Quantico, and, as previously mentioned, I have too.
    In this context, however, I still found it very powerful to be presented with a story about how sadistic soldiers and a callous military abused Manning, failed to discharge him and actually “recycled” him to Iraq, where he allegedly downloaded the material that ended up with WikiLeaks.
    Now I can see that it may be up for discussion as to quite why someone like Manning, in this position, would allegedly do this, and I don’t know if the Guardian’s article made it sufficiently clear that, if he did, it might have been because he was predisposed to be politically clear on what was wrong with the US government, and that his treatment may have prompted him to take this action, but for me the article powerfully portrayed a man pushed to breaking point — and the blame for that that rests with the military.
    I agree that Manning now seems stronger and more mature, based on what we know of his response to his treatment in Quantico, but it seems possible to me that this arose out of his response to the previous appalling treatment that he experienced, which the Guardian helped to highlight.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Rebecca Harvey wrote (in response to 17):

    He didn’t “report” the crimes. He leaked confidential information he had no business accessing to unauthorized people. Any good he did, was by accident-not design.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    In response to 15:

    Thanks, Peace Activist. Always good to hear from you.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    In response to 16:

    Well, Jon, I think it helps to establish a picture of what it might have been that led to the decision to download and leak the documents (if, indeed, it was Bradley Manning who did so). And to me, that involves further information to establish his political awareness, the abject failure of the military to do anything to help him, and the ease with which the supposed safeguards on the classified network were bypassed. For me, exploring these issues didn’t detract from the crimes he revealed, which I have been involved in exposing myself, through working with WikiLeaks on the Guantanamo files, and also through other articles, but it wasn’t of particular relevance to this exploration.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Malcolm Bush wrote:

    I really thought the Guardian did a first rate job; we needed a story that focused on the background, mental health and the bits not usually covered. We could always do with more of this; and more on the US Army. Much More.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Lisa Barr wrote:

    I think the examples given about his alleged mental state were lacking context. I’d like to hear more about the people who physically abused him to the point where he allegedly ‘wet himself’ after being abused–i’d like to hear more about the people who abused him to the point where he was in the ‘fetal position’ and ‘always screaming’ etc.. This certainly still seems like a very biased report and I don’t know why they would release it.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Damian Fortieth wrote:

    Rebecca, actually he did report these crimes to his superiors. His superiors ignored him and ordered him to perpetrate the same. In fact, he did have business accessing this information, as he was an intelligence officer whose business it was to see this. Anyone who reads what is available of the chat logs can see that he was compelled by a sense of right and wrong, that he was not out to make money, and therefore did not sell secret information to “the enemy,” but saw it as his duty to inform the public what ought not to be secret but reported by investigative journalists in the first place. Journalists in NYT and Washington Post, and every other major paper, as Andy can tell you, routinely report secret information to the public with a much higher level of secrecy than anything BM allegedly gave the public. It is their profession as the fourth estate to check the abuses of gov’ts that operate in secrecy. He is a classic scapegoat. To better understand the difference between whistleblowing and leaking, I highly recommend that you examine Jesselyn Radack’s statement which specifically addresses this issue. She is the Government Accountability Project Homeland Security and Human Rights Director. In the following press conference, she reads the U.S. law clearly and specifically addresses this topic. Please listen: http://thedispatch.org/BMSN/Manning_Press_Call_05.25.11.mp3
    There are several other speakers, including attorneys and military experts, like Ann Wright who is a retired Lt. Colonel of the US Army and worked for the State Dept. for 22 years, most recently as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Afghanistan. These people discuss what is at stake with the Bradley Manning case for both journalists and the public if in the end, the Supreme Court upholds the Espionage Act of 1917 as constitutional. See also http://www.whistleblower.org/blog for similar cases and for more perspective. These speakers also address the question that Andy had about classification of documents and validity of the classification.

    And to Andy, I would like to suggest that it is easy to make ANYONE look crazy. Anyone can do it. You put anyone under scrutiny, especially of the tabloid kind that papers are so keen to exploit for money, and you can make a convincing case that they are insane. You can make an iron clad case that Albert Einstein was insane. I can make my boss at work appear to be totally insane to my colleagues. And I believe I’ve got good grounds to believe it, but this scrutiny does not have any merit or bearing on any important questions. If you are tortured in solitary confinement in a military brig and you don’t scream or wet your pants, then you are probably dead. I would like to suggest that you might be legitimizing worthless tabloid exploitation. The answers to questions that have any bearing on our lives are not to be found here. Whether BM ate bugs in prison or threw poop at the guards is irrelevant. What does it matter? The real criminals are still at large!

    The opening of the Guardian video, for example, where a female narrator insinuates that BM had an ego problem because he posed for a camera is such yellow journalism and such tabloid garbage. It is worthless because you would have to indict every child who posed for a picture under the same grounds. This is not serious journalism. I beg you please to reconsider this on the merits. This is character assassination, plain and simple.

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Rebecca Harvey wrote:

    Damian, i don’t think he’s crazy, and I did not say that. I think he should be kept very well. I think they rent him a suite at the Hilton with room service. Then I want him to go to trial, and spend the next 20 years in Leavenworth.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Lisa Barr wrote:

    shame on you rebecca

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Damian Fortieth wrote:

    LOL, thank you for your support, Lisa! Rebecca, you are too kind. I wish BM were only facing a room at the Hilton and then 20 years, lol. You are most gracious. However, if BM should serve time in Leavenworth, then so should every investigative journalist worth their salt. This is the crisis here. Does the gov’t get to operate in total secrecy and at the same time require all of us to be open books? It is unconstitutional for our gov’t’s officials to behave as they are. It is also against the law.

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Willy Bach wrote:

    I see some of Damian’s points too, because I remember the early stories about Bradley Manning being troubled and being gay (as if this had anything to do with his alleged courageous and altruistic actions). These were stories in the sleazy US corporate media, they were planted by the Pentagon, very unsympathetic character sketches designed to prejudice his trial, and I was angry that they were indeed doing a job on Bradley to diminish him in the public’s eye. As we have seen, the Pentagon’s nasty plan didn’t work. Lots of support, demos, emails, banners, legal fund.

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    Willy Bach wrote:

    This is Bradley Manning’s story told by The Guardian and more balanced. It is likely to result in even more support for Bradley. I think it is good. The Pentagon will hate it. The film is less sympathetic to the mad people in charge of the US military. They have a lot to answer for too. Since I no longer have the slightest respect for the US legal system, as it will never meet democratic standards, and since they have no intention of giving him a fair trial and would just lynch him if they thought they could get away with it – I no longer think this video will do anything to prejudice his trial. Re-posted. This is a must watch video and when it goes viral all over the world the US military will have lost their biggest PR catastrophe in living memory. Bloody good!

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    Jack Ulyanov wrote:

    And while everyone focuses their attention on the messenger, Bradley Maniing, the fact that the US is slaughtering civilians gets put aside. How about a few in depth reports on the murdering c*nts in the helicopter gunships?

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    Damian Fortieth wrote:

    Willy, I hope you are right and that this piece, for whatever it’s worth, does garner more support for Manning. My friend Rebecca is not impressed, however, so I’m not sure that this piece is doing the trick. I think the Guardian piece, although it does seem to be sympathetic in some ways, does a grave injustice, as it is very one-sided and damning of BM. BM cannot address any of these accusations and insinuations. It is totally unfair and again it does not have any value for helping us understand his important legacy on our lives, who our laws apply to, or help us see any grounds for petitioning our gov’t for redress of grievances. It can only serve our own prurient interests, and therefore it is tabloid.

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    Well, I’m glad to see that this story has provoked strong feelings, as so many of the terrible things that are happening in the world barely get noticed.
    Thanks, Malcolm and Willy, for your analyses, which I agree with, but thanks also to those with different points of view — with the exception of Rebecca, who seems to have prejudged Bradley Manning and to have decided that any kind of leak deserves a long prison sentence, even if a case might be made that the leaks are crucial for exposing — and hopefully bringing an end to — government crimes.
    Jack, I agree that it’s worth focusing on the murderers whom the government wants to shield from scrutiny while demonizing a whistleblower, but again, that wasn’t the focus of this particular investigation, which, from the divided opinions on display, either helps or hinders Bradley Manning’s case.
    I won’t run through my opinions again, as they’re available at 3, 14 and 19, above, and, as also mentioned above, I thoroughly endorse Willy’s comments at 30, above, but I will just reiterate that I don’t think the purpose of the investigation was to portray Manning as mad — it was to show how the military failed, both to look after Manning and to protect its classified network, and how that failure, combined with Manning’s political awareness (which the Guardian may not have focused on enough, although it was mentioned), created a situation in which, if the allegations against him are true, he downloaded the documents and released them to WikiLeaks.
    To me some very important aspects of this story are (1) the army’s cruelty and (2) the US government’s failure to protect classified information, which resulted from a systematic problem with overclassifying information, and ironically, from attempts to open up communication between all the different agencies as a direct result of the failure to communicate effectively before 9/11, which allowed the attacks to take place.

  34. Andy Worthington says...

    Alice Mennie wrote:

    but he is still being tortured

  35. Andy Worthington says...

    Jack Ulyanov wrote:

    It’s a good report. To me it says a lot about the country that produced Bradley. The only way he could go to university was to join the army. He’s just a kid. He did a very brave thing. But even if he wasn’t, even if he was a 40 year wife-beater who sold the tapes so he could buy crack, it wouldn’t change the information that was leaked. That is what the world should focus on. Free Bradley Manning, and then put the war criminals on trial.

  36. Andy Worthington says...

    Hard to argue with that, Jack, as I prefer to spend most of my time focusing on analyzing the important information released by whoever it was, and also believe that there can be no progress towards sanity and decency without the war criminals in the US government being held accountable for their crimes.
    As a case in point, the third part of my five-part series of articles looking at the previously unknown stories of 86 Guantanamo prisoners will be published very soon, which only became available because of Wikileaks, and their source, whether it was Bradley Manning or someone else.

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    Jack Ulyanov wrote:

    Keep up the good work Andy

  38. Andy Worthington says...

    Mui J. Steph wrote:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Damian.

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    Sharon Askew wrote:

    Interesting insight from the soldier about Bradley Manning and the DU which does really highlight how the system failed, plus especially the issue that surrounds the mental illness.
    “He wasn’t broken in the conventional sense, he was traumatised”
    So what the soldier is saying from this is the fact that BM would never be shaped into what the military wanted him to be, he was fighting it, but this does not make him insane, mad or weak but perhaps unstable because of it if he does not get out of the situation and why the US military has refused to make any comment on Manning’s mental health record other than to confirm it is being investigated.

    “Here’s the reality: basic training is, we build you down then we break you up — or we break you down and we build you up. Manning was not coming back up.”
    Bradley Manning was not going to conform because of his political awareness and now he’s going through hell again and being pumped full of god knows what. Very sad indeed.

  40. Andy Worthington says...

    Damian Fortieth wrote:

    Andy, I want to apologize for going off the deep end in some of my rhetoric. I need a personal editor. Know where I can get one? I appreciate your interpretation of the Guardian piece and the interpretation of those others who saw good in it. I do have to defend Rebecca, however. She is a literary scholar and an extremely bright individual. Her opinion does matter because she shares this opinion with perhaps the vast majority of Americans. Perhaps the Guardian could have foreseen that much of the public feels betrayed by BM’s alleged malfeasance.

    For example, the word whistleblower was never mentioned in this piece. Nor is it ever mentioned that his alleged malfeasance is protected under US law. It’s never mentioned that the people in the leaked collateral murder video were civilians. Never once does the Guardian hint that a significant source of BM’s emotional distress could have been from the war crimes he saw taking place. This entire piece places the onus on BM’s runt status, his being a misfit, a “total mess.” We are left to believe that the only thing the Army did wrong was recycle this poor misfit. All that she can see here is what a bed-wetting runt BM is. Of what possible value can that be?

    Anyway, I do believe she has a right to have the opinion she has. Not only should she not be shamed here, but we would do better to appreciate the validity of her conclusions. The Guardian and other journalists simply must do a better job at making a genuine case for Bradley Manning, if only in the interest of protecting their own profession from undue legal oppression with secrecy laws or worse.

  41. Robert Palmer, II says...

    While I believe it is good to reveal how abusive the military is to anyone different I agree the focus of this article distracts, most likely unintentionally, from the honorable actions that Bradley Manning is accused of doing, and distracts from the unhonorable, horrible actions that the military industrial complex secretly does and then seeks to hide. The real criminals those setting up these wars and weapon systems and then using them against others for geopolitical resource wars and killing thousands of innocent people and destroying so much ecology, infrastructure, and cultural heritage go free. So how is a journalist to balance sharing information about an accused and not contribute to the case to demean the accused. I think some effort ought to be put into researching who the actual shooters in the helicopter were and the mental state of those who shoot so enthusiastically from the helicopter at innocent civilians standing on a street. Similarly as Damian Fortieth states in his comment, research should be put into the mental state of those who allow or participate in such teasing and abuse as Bradley Manning received per this article. Actually I believe the whole military system encourages and requires a diminished mental capacity to be real, honorable, and life affirming. Perhaps David Swanson’s book, War is A Crime, which I have not yet read would address some of this.

  42. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Robert, Good to hear from you. David Swanson’s book will undoubtedly be useful in understanding the lies that are used to sell war to the people. Here are videos of myself and David speaking at an event in Baltimore in January, which David kindly invited me to take part in:
    http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2011/01/14/video-in-baltimore-andy-worthington-explains-why-obama-has-failed-to-close-guantanamo-and-david-swanson-discusses-war-is-a-lie/

  43. Andy Worthington says...

    Rebecca Harvey wrote (in response to 40):

    Damian, thank you for sticking up for me, but may I point out that I never called him a “bed-wetting runt”. Or used any derogatory language about Manning at all?
    My position is that Manning, a soldier, knowingly distributed classified material to the press during time of war. This is typically defined as “treason”. What I want to know, is why are you defending him?

  44. Andy Worthington says...

    Jack Ulyanov wrote:

    Treason? When the patriotism card gets played, the argument is lost. George Washington was guilty of treason. The US is currently arming people committing treason in Libya. Germans who stood up against the Nazis were committing treason. Daniel Ellsberg too, was guilty of treason was he not.

    “Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.” Hermann Goering

  45. Andy Worthington says...

    Rebecca Harvey wrote:

    OK, don’t call it treason. You still haven’t answered the question. He knowingly and with intent broke the law. Why should I defend him?

  46. Andy Worthington says...

    Jack Ulyanov wrote:

    Under US law, you are allowed to break the law, if breaking the law will avert a lesser crime. For example, you are allowed to break into someone’s house if it’s on fire to rescue a baby inside. Releasing proof of US war crimes will hopefully lessen the likelihood of them happening again.

  47. Andy Worthington says...

    Jack Ulyanov wrote:

    Rebecca, if someone gave you a classified document with photographs of children being tortured by US soldiers, would you respect the law and say nothing. Or would you commit treason by making them public?

  48. Andy Worthington says...

    Sharon Askew wrote:

    Rebecca, Bradley Manning was a young vulnerable kid trying to make his way in the world who ended up joining the army. The military want young people because they are easy to mould into what they want them to be, which is ultimately a killing machine.
    To do as one is told without question, to be detached enough from the subject to do the job, to be dehumanised enough to kill without question, to put it bluntly.
    The military failed to protect him and his vulnerability, they failed to break his political awareness and this makes him a misfit in the army. The army then failed Bradley Manning yet again by recycling him because they put him in an extremely difficult situation and dilemma by subjecting him to these videos.
    The military are responsible for this because he should not have gone to Iraq as he had already shown, you could say, a rebellious nature by not complying with the regular moulding.
    The soldier being interviewed knows it, so do the military, look at his situation now and ask yourself why Bradley Manning is being treated the way he is now, well it is not just because he knowingly and with intent broke the law.

  49. Connie says...

    There’s a new report just out from Cage Prisoners re. disproportionate disappearances, arrest and prosecution the involve the US “war on terror” as well as our mainland.

    There’s a related site called Project Salam: http://projectsalam.org/ the work largely of Stephen Downs, a longtime attorney.

    Also see: http://oneheartforpeace.blogspot.com for 2 June 2010

  50. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Connie. Good to hear from you.

  51. Andy Worthington says...

    Rebecca Harvey wrote (in response to 48):

    Thank you. That clarifies things.

  52. Kabuli says...

    43 : Rebecca wrote: My position is that Manning, a soldier, knowingly distributed classified material to the press during time of war.

    With all due respect Rebecca, this is where you are wrong. This is not a ‘war’ as you probably imagine. This is not about the US defending themselves against a foreign attack, but about the US attacking sovereign countries (whether Irak or Afghanistan) for no decent reason whatsoever.
    Please remember that neither Afghanistan nor Irak were in any way involved in 9/11. Afghanistan was attacked primarily as the US government needed a scapegoat to avenge 9/11 -with the ludicrous excuse of Osama bin Laden’s presumed presence in that country-, Irak in order to secure access to its oil -on falsified grounds extorted by torture from one of the countless victims of this ‘war on terror’.
    I witness some of the ‘war’ abuses from nearby, in Afghanistan.
    Believe me, this is not something for a decent human being to protect and excuse, but to fight with any peaceful means, as the whistleblower did, whoever he was.

    Whistleblowing any information about the abuses that go with these wars of aggression, can be equalled to whistleblowing by a courageous human German soldier in Nazi germany or an equally courageous Russian soldier during Soviet times.
    Or if you wish, with Marlene Dietrich openly denouncing her own fascist government. Not with a traitor who should be courtmarshalled.

  53. Gordon Haskell says...

    Bradley Manning and Daniel Ellsberg are two reliable witnesses possessing humanitarian qualities of a similar nature to Ghandi. Together, given the right breaks they can provide the evidence that can lead to the arrests of some of the most evil men presently on this planet. As you appear to be fond of studying Bradley’s mental state perhaps it might be a balanced fair trial media-wise, if you were also to study the mental state of those presently occupying positions of power in the White House, the US Military, the Houses of Commons and all the major Banks. And then expand it into the pharmaceutical industries. You will be sure to find they share the same psychological profile of any gangster from any era. Gangsters kill, torture, bribe and steal and lie for their own self-interest. They do not possess a conscience or the intelligence to think beyond their own little fantasy world they inhabit.
    They are mostly mentally retarded either by breeding or being over-privileged as children. They simply buy the media, buy a PR firm, and buy journalists and threaten unemployment, or a discrediting dreamed-up scandal to coerce, to force through compliance from all who have to deal with them. They make each victim an offer they can’t refuse like all the cheap crooks of the past. Above them are the real controllers. All of whom we are in debt to. Focus on the real criminals or don’t become a journalist as reading the Press these days seems to be a total waste of time. Time is running out. Either you are naive or you want to please someone. I suggest you do a little more research before publishing. Or to use an old cliche ‘think before you speak’.

  54. gordon haskell says...

    Articles focused on the prisoner’s supposed mental state or on hearsay evidence from fellow soldiers sets the stage for the next scene where we find Manning dead in his cell . The military and the politicians will then issue their prepared standard statement that they had been under pressure to move him out of solitary . The public then buys the whole story of a misfit . Such articles aid and abet the war criminals who have all the necessary tools of the trade at their disposal for such murders to be passed off as suicides. They need the media to continually put up their false flags for them and whilst they may believe they have the edge, their methods have become too commonplace to be believed any longer, except perhaps by those earning a living from all the misinformation trotted out daily.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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