Bradley Manning's Army of One


New York Magazine has published "Bradley Manning's Army of One," a feature by Steve Fishman profiling the young soldier accused of serving as a leak source to Wikileaks while serving as an intelligence officer in the Army.

Fishman's article about "one of the most unusual revolutionaries in American history" breaks new ground in exploring some of the experiences that may have shaped Manning's life, and some of what might have been happening for the soldier internally before the alleged leaks. That includes gender and sexual identity issues Manning is believed to have been dealing with while in the Army (more to the point, dealing with the hostility and hate from others around those deeply personal matters).

Those same issues have been previously addressed here on Boing Boing, but Fishman investigation makes clear what reading through the lines on the Lamo chat logs only hinted at— and helps explain why Wired News may have held back some of the log transcripts it did. Manning was going through a lot, it seems, including a crisis of conscience over what the soldier was witnessing in Iraq. But another profound personal change was under way at the time: transitioning gender from male to female. Manning had already shifted to self-identify as female by the time the exchange with Adrian Lamo took place.

For Manning, nothing was okay. In October 2009, he arrived at Forward Operating Base Hammer, a dusty backwater 40 miles from Baghdad. There, Manning felt more isolated than ever-- "it's awfully stressful, lonely." Intel analysts sometimes worked fourteen-to-fifteenhour stretches in "a dimly lit room crowded to the point you cant move an inch without having to quietly say 'excuse me sir,' 'pardon me sergeant major,' " he wrote. "cables trip you up everywhere, papers stacked everywhere ..." Usually, there was a large central TV screen where an analyst could watch the war play in endless loop. You could zoom in on the raw footage from helicopters or even helmet cams. At times it felt like watching nonstop snuff films. "It's groundhog day," Manning wrote: every day the same. Later, his super visors said he displayed dissociative behavior, his mind in one place and his body in another--but that was the nature of the job. An intel analyst sat at his work station and targeted the enemy, reducing a human being to a few salient points. Then he made a quick decision based on imperfect information: kill, capture, exploit, source. Any illusions Manning had about saving lives quickly vanished. At one point, he went to a superior with what he believed to be a mistake. The Iraqi Federal Police had rounded up innocent people, he said. Get back to work, he was told. "I was never noticed," he later said.

Meanwhile, Manning's concerns about his sexual identity were intensifying. In November 2009, he made contact on the web with a gender counselor back in the States. When I met the counselor, he was easygoing and upbeat for someone who'd spent hours talking to servicemen who believed they were inhabiting the wrong body. He knew what he was talking about, though. In person, his gender was difficult to discern--he'd begun his transition as a teenager. "Bradley felt he was female," the counselor told me. "He was very solid on that." Quickly, their conversation shifted to the practicalities: How does someone transition from male to female? "He really wanted to do surgery," the counselor recalled. "He was mostly afraid of being alone, being ostracized or somehow weird." To the counselor, it was clear Manning was in crisis. "I feel like a monster," he'd typed on his computer several times. The statement referred partly to his gender struggles but more to his job. He'd taken an oath not to divulge this type of information. But then it spilled out. He told the counselor about a targeting mission gone bad in Basra. "Two groups of locals were converging in this one area. Manning was trying to figure out why they were meeting," the counselor told me. On Manning's information, the Army moved swiftly, dispatching a unit to hunt them down. Manning had thought all went well, until a superior explained the outcome. "Ultimately, some guy loosely connected to the group got killed," the counselor said. To the counselor, it was clear: Manning felt that there was blood on his hands. "He was very, very distressed."

Read the full piece at

One of the figures in Fishman's story is ZJ Antolak, aka Zinnia Jones, a genderqueer YouTuber in whom "Bradass87" confided over IM from Iraq. New York Magazine provided an extra snippet of chat logs between Manning and ZJ to Boing Boing which were not published in the magazine piece. That log excerpt, which provides a little additional color about their relationship, and what was on Manning's mind, follows below.


(9:02:45 PM) ZJ: when I get a new computer I might install linux on this one
(9:03:07 PM) bradass87: military is all f'd up... contracts with closed source developers with incompatible software... drives me NUTS
(9:03:29 PM) ZJ: that is ridiculous, it's hard to ensure security when the source is unavailable
(9:03:53 PM) bradass87: yes, even worse its often lowest bidder...
(9:05:03 PM) bradass87: used to be the cream of the crop... now its outdated non-backward compatible suites of buggy software that were originally used for civilian purposes, then modified for military but not exactly thoroughly tested
(9:05:36 PM) bradass87: then they get contractors who dont know anything about computers to teach it...
(9:06:42 PM) bradass87: and its all OKAY, because we cant exactly complain out in the open because the software which bugs out is often times on machines which are stamped with big red SECRET stickers
(9:06:57 PM) ZJ: that's pretty lame
(9:07:12 PM) bradass87: it is, it is

(Photo: Courtesy of the Bradley Manning Support Network, via


  1. Great. More ammo for the “gays can’t be trusted in the military” brigade. Why couldn’t he have just been a person with a conscience? The damage that he’s done (or will have done once this gender identity issue is widely read) to equality in the armed forced is immeasurable.

    1. I think you’re confusing ‘gays’ with ‘people of conscience’. And people of conscience can’t be trusted in todays military. It’s a real juggernaut.

      Also, how is being in a hotbox watching videos like that until you’re dissociative qualitatively different from waterboarding or the other gitmo techniques? Who do you have to be to NOT be driven to crisis by that job?

    2. You’re suggesting that Manning should have checked herself because bigots might point to her behavior as evidence of the inherent immorality of homosexuality?

      Nice. I’ll remember to mind my p’s and q’s while I’m out in public, lest I give some jackass an excuse to bash some other queer somewhere.

      That’s what “equality” is all about, after all: every member of a given identity group is exactly the same.

  2. I respect your concern @deckard68, but two thoughts here:

    1. Manning isn’t necessarily gay. Gender and sexuality are different.

    2. What about being queer (in whatever sense) reflects poorly on the military’s choice to someday accept queer people? Aren’t we seeing that Manning’s feeling of isolation (“I was never noticed”) at least partially fueled her decision to (allegedly) leak data? Could the leak have been prevented if Manning hadn’t felt so isolated, alien, unsafe, etc.?

    This second point doesn’t weigh in on the moral correctness of the leak as such (though I’m sure you can guess which side I fall on that subject); rather, it’s just to point out that the notion of a queer person leaking military data doesn’t necessarily have to work *against* queer people being accepted in the military. Might support the opposite conclusion.

  3. Agreeing with Cory: Trans does not equal gay. (Though it is possible that Manning identifies as lesbian, that has not been indicated and in any event would not seem to be as significant as the gender identity issue.)

  4. Pretty much by now most Americans kind of know that behind the scenes painted by the media, the US military has a lot of shocking inefficiencies and downright immoral things going on,

    ie the errors in judgement in the hands of overworked guys/girls;

    and the overzealousness of the commanders relying on their judgements;

    and following that, the trained-to-kill-without-mercy, only-acting-under-orders-from-my-sarge 18-year-old front liners who shoot-first-ask-later, scared to death and believing that destroying another country’s citizens and assets is for the good of their country.

    The point is, can you understand why the US has made a lot of new enemies by their own action? “Terrorists”/freedom fighters aren’t born to “destroy the US”. There were strong catalysts and motivation for them to do so, ie when your dad gets blown to bits for no reason, some foreign oil-seeking power tramps around your own backyard like it’s their own etc.

    I’m just saying – pay attention to what your government is doing
    to others, beyond media potrayal. I think you should understand why your enemies hate you, instead of just trying to kill them and repeat the cycle.

    1. Oh, please. Enough with the blame the U.S. bulls@#t. This battle with the West has been going on long before there was a United States. We’re just the big dog now instead of Spain, France or the Brits.

      Bradley Manning knowingly turned over highly classified files of a government he took an oath to serve. This has nothing to do with gender issues. He got caught. He’ll pay the price if convicted. He should be proud of his stand. Or was a vulnerable Manning simply “used and discarded” by the minions at WikiLeaks? Either way, he’s probably toast.

  5. It’s highly unfortunate that some people here think that Trans individuals get this choice about their status. It can be for those who haven’t yet transitioned like a ticking timebomb in your head, you both need to come out, and you squelch it away, letting pressures build over time. And then people get pretty critical when they DO come out about not having the guts to at least have held it in longer ‘For the family/occupation/childrens’ sake. And then when they do come out it takes months/years for them to actually SETTLE into just living their life, because in part that buildup needs to be let out. So Im sorry that she ruined your hopes for it being “a person with a concience” story, I am sure if she checked in with you and everyone else first, maybe that would have made it all better. Sorry given I am speaking from personal experience, I am keeping this comment anonymous/stealth thank you.

  6. I really don’t see how the two issues (Manning’s sexual or gender orientation and Manning’s concern over civilian deaths in iraq) are related.
    But here’s what I really don’t get. Why a GENDER ISSUES counselor would refer to someone the counselor strongly believed was trans and working to transition into a female phenotype as “he.” You’d think a counselor who specializes in trans people would refer to someone like that as “she.” Instead, the counselor repeatedly refers to Manning as “he.”

  7. @naturegrrl, to say nothing of the fact that a gender counsellor breaking confidentiality, especially to a reporter would effectively end his practice.

    I have seen many cases where shrinks would use one set of pronouns when the patient is in the room and another when writing about them.

    1. We don’t know that the counselor doesn’t have permission to release the info. But if he doesn’t then shame on him.

  8. Heartbreaking. This story could have been mine, if I’d been pushed into joining the military. Being trans in the US military must be about as close to a living hell as you can get.

  9. @Anon – because transsexuals are such horrible people we don’t even count as people – and as such, deserve none of those legal protections that normal people get.

  10. It seems clear to me this was a principled political decision on his part. A lot of gay guys are probably unhappy in the armed forces, and obviously they haven’t done anything like this.

  11. Although strictly speaking, it’s not like Manning is going to have a chance to sue the shrink anytime soon.

  12. “Aren’t we seeing that Manning’s feeling of isolation (“I was never noticed”) at least partially fueled her decision to (allegedly) leak data?”

    Cory, if that’s true, then it implies that queer people can’t be trusted to follow orders and do their duty unless they feel connected, and seen and are emotionally secure. It can’t be good for queers in the military to be seen as emotionally unstable and unreliable.

  13. Can we please stop obfuscating the real issue with this gender and sexuality smokescreen? Bradley Manning (not an officer, or even non-commissioned officer, btw…standard BB poor “journalism” standards) is a criminal.

    His (or her…whatever) sexuality or confusion has nothing to do with the fact he/she took an oath to safeguard classified information and he/she willfully broke it. Let’s not forget he/she volunteered for the Army. He/she volunteered for his career field. He/she willingly took an oath to protect classified information. He/she knew the consequences of the actions he/she took. Time to man up…whoops…sorry…woman up and take responsibility for your actions.

    This ridiculous angst about his/her sexuality does nothing but smear others of varying sexualities trying to serve honorably in the military.

    1. Putting aside the oxymoronic “serve honorably in the military”, how can you say that you are honorable when you won’t adequately honor Manning’s pronouns?

      1. Well, “Teddy’s”, there you are. You didn’t adequately honor pronouns, so your legitimate observation about Womanning’s military status is invalid. Not a lot of veterans posting on this issue, at least on BoingBoing. Happy Fourth of July.

    2. The purpose of oaths is to delude people and convince people to reject their conscience and support the evils of those they have sworn oaths to.

    3. Bradley Manning is a hero for revealing the wilful murder of civilians in Iraq and should be decorated. S/he is maybe America’s most important revolutionary hero who is still alive today. Justice is not done before Obama has recognized this and called her to Washington to decorate and thank her in person.

      1. Justice is not done before Obama has recognized this and called her to Washington to decorate and thank her in person.

        Obama will never do anything of the sort. He’s as complicit and compromised to our cancerous political system as Bush Jr. was. Actually, moreso; he doesn’t have the excuse of being an idiot.

        1. Obama will never do anything of the sort. He’s as complicit and compromised to our cancerous political system as Bush Jr. was. Actually, moreso; he doesn’t have the excuse of being an idiot.

          The only solace I take in Obama’s presidency so far is that the alternative could have been McCain and Palin running the country right now. Which shows the shitty state of this country right now.

    4. Bradley Manning has not been tried and found guilty of any crime – ergo: he is NOT a criminal.
      Revealing classified information which is proven to be in the public interest because it’s classification allows governments to lie to the public is a legally valid defence – see Pentagon Papers case. So IF he did what he is accused of, he is still not necessarily a criminal.
      It is a statement of the obvious to say that Bradley Manning is taking responsibility for his actions – and how.

      1. Morality aside, I have a feeling that a public interest defense would work better if he had been more selective in his leaks. I doubt the court will accept that the public needed to know our diplomat’s uncomplimentary opinions about European heads of state.

        Further hair splitting: I think that the defining characteristic of a criminal is committing a crime, not being convicted of one. We are, in principle, uncertain whether Manning is a criminal until the court renders a verdict. Even then we may disagree, innocent people do get convicted sometimes, especially in politically charged cases. Prematurely referring to him as a criminal without a qualifier, such as accused or alleged, is still bad.

      2. “Revealing classified information which is proven to be in the public interest because it’s classification allows governments to lie to the public is a legally valid defence – see Pentagon Papers case. So IF he did what he is accused of, he is still not necessarily a criminal.”

        Nope. There isn’t any “public interest exception” for releasing classified information.

        In the Pentagon Papers case, the Supreme Court refused to _enjoin_ publication of the secrets ahead of time, under the First Amendment. I.e., no “prior restraints” on freedom of press.

        However, that didn’t stop the US government from pressing felony charges against the author. He was tried, and there was a mistrial because the government engaged in misconduct in prosecuting that case (not because the author won on a “public interest” defense).

        From Wikipedia:
        “Ellsberg [and Russo] on May 11, 1973, after several irregularities appeared in the government’s case, including its claim that it had lost records of illegal wiretapping against Ellsberg conducted by the White House Plumbers in the contemporaneous Watergate scandal.[3] Byrne ruled: ‘The totality of the circumstances of this case which I have only briefly sketched offend a sense of justice. The bizarre events have incurably infected the prosecution of this case.'”

        Assuming that Bradley Manning leaked this information — and there doesn’t seem to be much question about that — then he’ll probably be spending a long time in prison. I’m not saying that that’s a good thing, but that’s reality.

    5. An oath (or law for that matter) is man-made (and therefore fallible) and can be used where necessary to cover up a fallacy, stopping people from critical thinking and making people stand in line. When those people believe in that oath and stop questioning their actions, what does that make them/us? What about stepping out of line for a change?

    6. You’re doing it all wrong. You guys are supposed to comment on some apolitical articles first, maybe five or six of them. Then this one.

    7. LOL.

      1.Complain about journalistic standards
      2. Refer to an untried person as a criminal in the same sentence.

      Well trolled sir/ma’am/whatever

      1. @kitto- +1

        She broke the law. So what? She was going on her morals to do what she deemed right, even in the face of the law, and that’s what’s really important. She’s a hero.

  14. @BethNOLA: I don’t see Manning’s feelings of isolation and not being noticed as having anything to do with zir sexuality or gender. I see it as more of a result of being just a cog in a war machine that was grinding up innocent people, and not being able to do anything to effect that.

    @Teddy’sBigStick: I suggest you read up on the Nuremberg trials. We executed Germans after WWII for doing exactly when the United States has been doing in Iraq. It was established in those trials that a soldier is required by International law to do exactly what Bradley Manning did, or else they are just as much a war criminal as the people they saw commit the crimes. Oh, and yes, I do believe that were the actions of the United States in Iraq held to the same standards as the Germans were held at Nuremberg, George Bush and Barack Obama would walk to the gallows side by side.

  15. I can just hear future-Palin the IXth campaigning in the year 2510, drudging up history from American’s Next Revolution: “Bradley Manning warned the British!”

  16. Hey guys, can we stop the “s/he” bullshit? Its she. I don’t care if you think she was a traitor, or think that us trans people are icky, she at least deserves that small bit of respect.

    1. I agree, let’s stop the he/she crud until we hear from Bradley what he wants to be called. Until then, with only a rumor from a “web based counselor” claiming that Bradley talked a lot about feeling like a she, I’m sticking with the DNA identification of his gender as the Times did. To start calling someone “she” based on second-hand info is not appropriate.

  17. Thought 1: The assholes WILL pick up on this as ammo for their hate on gays. They’d use the color of the sky if they could.

    Thought 2: Fuck those assholes. (See what I did there?)

    Thought 3: Manning DID break the law.

    Thought 4: Good. More people should. Maybe the entire farce will come to a crashing end so we can end the military welfare program that’s been dragging the global economy into the shitter.

  18. There is a sociological and social psychological theory, “Standpoint Theory”, which basically states that an individual’s perspective on a group/culture and its actions depend on how much a person feels included, or a part of said culture. Someone who is living on the fringes is more likely to have a critical, and interestingly, more realistic and accurate, perspective on the behaviors and patterns of the in-group. Someone who is a part of the in-group is much less likely to be critical, and often sold on the group’s mythologies. I can see how Manning’s isolation might have contributed to his leaking the documents, honestly, in his place I hope I would have done the same thing.

    1. I can see how Manning’s isolation might have contributed to his leaking the documents, honestly, in his place I hope I would have done the same thing.

      If what is alleged about Manning is true, I would also hope I would have done the same thing too. It was a brave, selfless act and I hope one day once the military-industrial profit-center loses its tyrannical control of the USA, there will be statues put up in honor of such a patriotic act.

      I’m sure if many of the detractors of Manning in this thread were put up to making such a selfless act… they’d turn to jelly and FAIL. Manning probably has more bravery in his little toe than all the detractors of him in this thread put together. They are the epitome of what’s wrong with some of the weakest citizens of the USA… stupid, hateful and chickenhawk cowards.

  19. Wow, thinking of Bradley as a female makes me wonder, could that be another reason why the gulag guards stripped him/her of his/her clothes? Just for that extra bit of shaming…

  20. I never realized that his IM handle was bradass87. As travtastic, I have to say that that’s fucking great.

  21. I wish people would stop focusing on this issue it’s only going to accomplish 2 things: embarrass the poor guy (like he needs more problems) and poison a large part of the public opinion against him by painting him as a weirdo (to the public at large at least.)

  22. Note that Manning points out the Kafkaesque inefficiency of the world’s greatest killing machine. The military really is the perfect socialist society.
    Also, one of the Army’s seven core values is Personal Courage: “Facing moral fear or adversity may be a long, slow process of continuing forward on the right path, especially if taking those actions is not popular with others. You can build your personal courage by daily standing up for and acting upon the things that you know are honorable.”

  23. There are plenty of people with a conscience in the military — which is why they have that oath. It is, however, surprising that the oath is sufficient to cancel out appropriate actions in so many cases. If further social and emotional stress is necessary to convince people to act morally within this structure, there is something very wrong with the social dynamic in place. For those less concerned with ethical dilemmas, the same pressures that prevent people from responding appropriately to killing also prevent people from responding appropriately to incompetence.

    I recall hearing from someone in the Navy that his group was receiving orders via Microsoft Comic Chat. This is the kind of thing we’re up against, whether we want an ethical military-industrial complex or merely a competent and effective one.

  24. I used to have an Army job that came with a muckety-muck security clearance, and from that perspective Manning’s decision to leak these documents is pretty much an open and shut case. He violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice, he knew exactly what the consequences of that act were (it’s posted all over everything), and military law doesn’t have to take into account the “why” of the action.

    I’d be shocked if he wasn’t given a harsh sentence at his courts martial.

    The point is, let’s not ask the UCMJ to change to accommodate whatever special circumstances we see in Manning’s case. It’s like asking a brick wall to become permeable because we see something admirable about the driver of the car who is about to slam into it. If you want to make the argument that Manning served a higher calling of patriotism, then understand that you’re making a political argument. You’re going to be seeking a pardon for Manning after his conviction.

    I’m not convinced either way on that argument yet, but as to the subject of his gender and/or sexuality, I have one simple thought. It doesn’t matter. I served with people with “non-straight” sexualities, I think it’s horrible they had to stay in the closet, and I believe that if we support their desire to be viewed by the Army as soldiers (not “gay soldiers” or “transgendered soldiers”), then we should respect that right treating their gender/sexuality as irrelevant to this question.

    By the way, regarding pronouns, my father is transgendered, and we’ve been through the pronoun question in lots of ways in our family. Where we’ve wound up is essentially a stalemate and a default “he,” which is imperfect and personal and reflects the fact that he’s a father and a grandfather with a gender that’s somewhere between traditional notions of masculine and feminine.

    The point is, gender is a thing we negotiate with the world around us, and if we want to leave that identity open for individuals to define, we shouldn’t treat pronouns like some universal sensitivity litmus test. In Manning’s case I use “he” because in the military you sign up as one or the other, and whatever you say you are at the beginning determines what clothes you wear, where you live, what jobs you can do, etc. If she were a civilian who presented as a female, etc., I’d probably go the other way.

    1. If you want to make the argument that Manning served a higher calling of patriotism, then understand that you’re making a political argument. You’re going to be seeking a pardon for Manning after his conviction.

      That’s not how whistle-blower protection works in the rest of the world. Or rather, the decent parts of the world that still have any.

  25. While Manning’s story, or at least this version of it, appears to be operatic, I’d be interested to hear Manning’s reason for volunteering for the Army at the moment of that decision.

    And I now know that “revolutionary” is the superlative of the much overused “activist” – a word as suspect to me as “patriot.”

  26. We have a volunteer army, so Manning chose to join the service. Then (s)he chose to expose classified documents, thus, breaking the law. Pardon me if I don’t feel any sympathy.

  27. He wasn’t an intelligence officer, Xeni. He was an enlisted intelligence technician. I am sorry he found his 14 hour, cramped shifts in Iraq so trying, but that is no excuse for what he did, no matter what his reasons were. Marines in Fallujah had it much worse than he did, yet they did their duty and didn’t betray their country. While serving in the Marine Corps, I once pulled duty 20 hours a day for an entire month straight. My entire unit did. Nobody complained and nobody turned traitor. We were busy trying to accomplish the mission. Staying alive was secondary.

    I don’t care about such niceties as freedom of information and the fact that he thought he was doing his countrymen and the world a service, not in this circumstance. The fact remains that he raised his right hand and swore that he wouldn’t do anything like what he did. Gender and sexual orientation has nothing to do with it. He put operational units in danger by his actions, and that is a traitorous act. I don’t care what part of the political spectrum you fall on or what your opinions of the war happen to be.

    @ Cowicide: It takes much more bravery and courage to face an enemy in combat than it does to throw a petulant little fit because things are not to your liking. Like it or not, mankind is a warlike race, even when you take politics completely out of it. Yes, war is what happens when diplomacy fails. But when your enemy’s idea of diplomacy is randomly killing your citizens on your home soil, you do what needs to be done to put a stop to it. Bradley Manning worked in direct contravention of these goals, even though he thought he was doing the right thing.

    1. Like it or not, mankind is a warlike race

      It will be as long as violent hatemongers keep declaring it so.

  28. Remember our boys on the Malabar front!

    Why do people offer the severity of a problem as a rationale for advocating their particular proposed solution?

    The argument generally runs:

    Q: Why are you doing this bad thing?

    A: This problem is really awful and terrible and if you don’t support my proposed solution then you support the problem!

    R: I’m sorry, please keep doing the bad thing

    1. I think part of the problem is that some people choose evil, whether that evil is nationalism, or skin-privilege, or some gorram oath, and call it good.

      I wish I knew how to reason with someone who does that. I don’t know how. I mean, killing people is murder, and exposing institutions for it is duty. And they idea that an oath could strip away that duty, or a law could legitimise reprisals against those who do their duty – that is unthinkable. I can no more understand a morality which would justify hostility towards this young hero, than understand a mathematics where 2+2=5.

      1. Marja, let’s try some more math: subtract the number of classified cables Manning released that are evidence of murder from 251,287.

        1. Unknown.

          But the secrecy is part of the system of violence. You can’t separate the two. You can’t say “oh, this cable only shows kickbacks between this corporation and these secret police, it’s not evidence of murder,” or “this cable only shows that these contractors are paying for child sex slavery, it’s not evidence of murder,” or “these cables only show that the state department is helping the dictatorship keep it’s atrocities quiet, that’s not evidence of murder.” And the secrecy is one of the things that enables the murders and the other violence, and it had to be exposed for what it is.

          1. Oh, so when you say murder, you don’t actually mean murder? It all seems so clear now; I can’t imagine why I didn’t get it the first time :P

            Let’s just open things up completely and posit that by murder, what you actually meant was questionable activities engaged in by US government personnel or contractors. So, how many of those 251,287 cables contained evidence of that?

            I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by predicting that the only figure you will be able to come up with can be characterised as ‘some’, leaving a remainder that is best described as ‘a shitload more than some’.

            But let’s put the overwhelming majority to one side for a moment and look at those cables which deal with actual skullduggery. I don’t believe I’m alone in thinking that before sending everything to Julian, Manning should have made reasonably comprehensive efforts to find other means of dealing with his concerns. Perhaps a means specifically allowing the communication of classified information to a third party who is tasked with investigating such questionable activities and would guarantee Manning immunity from prosecution and protect him from reprisals. So, how many cables did Manning submit to the Defense Intelligence Community Whistleblower Program along with his concerns before calling FedEx? Why, that number would be zero. Clearly, the requirement that the DoD Inspector General evaluate the information within 14 days was too long for Manning. Only a sucker would wait for those two whole weeks, and then, if he disagreed with the IG’s findings, take his concerns direct to, say, the House Intelligence Committee with legally enshrined impunity, right? This was stuff that had to be dealt with urgently, dammit! There was no time for such petty, ass-covering procedures. Much better to have Julian sit on it for a few months instead.

            Now let’s look at all the other stuff Manning released. Here’s an example. If you’re in TL;DR mode, it contains a US Embassy official’s report on an interview with a businessman who has previously supplied reliable information, in which he passed on news learned from friends in Iran about the possible supply of components for a nuclear reactor in breach of sanctions. Perhaps Manning heroically saw no potential for harm in releasing the cable, given that the informant was not named, or perhaps he valiantly reasoned that his friends or family in Iran would welcome the company if ever the secret police somehow managed to identify the anonymous UK-educated engineer who is a former Iranian national fencing champion and currently runs an oil services company in Baku? Whatever the case, I’m sure that while divining this cable’s contents and that of tens of thousands of others like it by means of a file copy progress bar, Manning was filled with a sense of patriotism or altruism or something. But not pique or petulance. Oh, no.

            You can call him a hero if you wish, but the most generous epithet I can find for Manning is someone who is prone to making exceptionally bad choices.

          2. Summarization of your post: (and many others in this thread)

            Who care about murder, war crimes and corruption in my name? Let’s focus on this Manning character.

          3. Regarding that “murder war crimes and corruption” – as I understand it, the incriminating video was been heavily edited by wikileaks to make it more clear-cut than it actually was.

  29. There are 1,430,895 active duty US military servicemen and women and an additional 848,000 people in the seven reserve components. I would like to hear from more of them what they think. Do they think the US military is acting with reckless disregard for human life as most of the people in this discussion seem to be implying?

    I was under the impression that the US military has very strict codes of honor that are much higher than what most civilians operate under. Can anyone who has real personal knowledge of this shed some light? (Not bumper-sticker type sloganeering, but actual detailed factual information.)

    1. Don’t be reasonable. Commenters around here think the military is filled with babykillers. Happy 4th.

    2. Do they think the US military is acting with reckless disregard for human life as most of the people in this discussion seem to be implying?

      After seeing things exposed by Wikileaks… you might as well ask them if they have eyes and can they see.

      Choose to be blind all you’d like, it doesn’t change reality.

  30. @Antinous
    anharmy seems to be asking a valid albeit as you imply, naive, line of questioning. I might catch flame for standing up to the BB big dog, but perhaps didn’t deserve the snark, just the guy just deserved some gentler servicey remark?

    @Anon way above :
    The government has dropped a lot of bombs and carried out too many invasions to piss off too many people. How come the question is, “how to ignore that?” and “how to now kill those pissed off people” instead of “how to do rebuild goodwill”

  31. Did Manning get drafted? or shanghai’d?

    If not, then what did he think he was getting into when he signed up to do what he did? What the fuck do people think the military is about when they make that choice?

    LOTS of people get crushed by those experiences. If you’re not the type, you can choose to avoid joining. There are ways to find out. My first exposure to ROTC was a gang of gangly teens watching a video and giggling about what napalm was doing to those “gooks”. It was my last exposure.

  32. The unpleasant, unavoidable fact is that nation states need armies or their enemies will eventually destroy them. George Orwell said it best:

    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

    If you want to undermine your own country’s military, you’d better have a good, specific reason for doing so (not just that you hate war), otherwise all you’re merely helping hostile nations that watch and bide their time.

    1. You assume that everyone has a nation. Only the very rich and very powerful own nations. The rest of us are stuck being owned until we start thinking of our common sentience and stop thinking of the nations that divide us.

      1. Only the very rich and very powerful own nations.

        That’s true of dictatorships but not in a free society. In a democracy the people are not “owned”. If you think anarchy is the solution well I’m afraid that’s an unachievable fantasy.

        At any rate, regardless of how free we are, armies in most situations protect the populace, not just the leaders.

    2. Colonel Jessup also has a nice speech both about how the military serves us, and why that means you should be careful about opposing them. It’s from a sad movie, though, because not everyone listens to him.

  33. If you can’t understand why the context of corruption is evidence relevant to [of] the murders, I don’t know what to say.

  34. A crusty old sergeant major found himself at a gala event hosted by a local liberal arts college. There was no shortage of extremely young, idealistic ladies in attendance, one of whom approached the sergeant major for conversation.

    “Excuse me, sergeant major, but you seem to be a very serious man. Is something bothering you?”

    “Negative, ma’am. Just serious by nature.”

    “The young lady looked at his awards and decorations and said, “It looks like you have seen a lot of action.”

    “Yes, ma’am, a lot of action.”

    The young lady, tiring of trying to start up a conversation, said, “You know, you should lighten up a little. Relax and enjoy yourself.”

    The sergeant major just stared at her in his serious manner.

    Finally the young lady said, “You know, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but when was the last time you had sex?”

    “1955, ma’am.”

    “Well, there you are. You really need to chill out and quit taking everything so seriously! I mean, no sex since 1955!” She took his hand and led him to a private room where she proceeded to “relax” him several times.

    Afterwards, panting for breath, she leaned against his bare chest and said, “Wow, you sure didn’t forget much since 1955!”

    The sergeant major, glancing at his watch, said in his matter-of-fact voice, “I hope not, it’s only 2130 now.”

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