Bradley Manning Had Secrets

Adam Butcher's short film is a portrait of Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of sending thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks. With dialog based on the chatlogs that incriminated him, and pixel-art rotoscoping of live footage, the overall effect is strangely dehumanizing—an echo of what happens when secrets private and political come to define one's predicament.


  1. Xlnt piece. Couldn’t Pfc Manning have gained an honorable discharge by speaking up about his desire to change gender? When I read the chatscripts a few months ago, grabbing the documents seemed less about his personal politics and more about his fundamental unhappiness. A lot of pain could’ve been avoided.

  2. He’s really paying the cost for doing the right thing. I hope that history will depict him for the hero that he truly is. The establishment has dehumanized him and assassinated his character  by attempting to set up an image of him as a feminine coward in order to undermine the public’s perspective of him. The reality is that he is a man that towers over a sea of cowards that did nothing and still do nothing to stop the American military from committing atrocities. 

    1. How do you know what the American military is doing?  Are you serving or have you ever served or are you just the 99% percent that will never take an oath to defend something greater than yourself?

      Manning is a coward and violated every oath he took as a member of the US Army Services.

      1. aren’t snipers those who stand way back the action and try to get kills on the shoulders of their companions?

      2. I could not disagree more.  Cowards follow orders.  Courageous men and women will break rank and stand for what’s right when their CO’s are in the wrong.

        Manning is a hero.

        As for violating all his “Army Services” oaths…isn’t there one in there about protecting the country against all enemies, foreign or domestic?  If a supposedly civilian controlled military in a supposed republic is lying to the populace, I’d say there are some domestic enemies afoot.

  3. He really should have kept quiet about what he was doing, but Manning really seems to have wanted to get caught.  I am not certain what he wanted to do from there.

  4. He’s a coward for not using the channels that are provided for reporting violations of domestic and international laws.  There is a reason that we have the Inspector General and there is a reason that information about wrongdoing can be submitted by anyone Private to General.

    If Manning felt he couldn’t “follow orders” then he shouldn’t have sworn the Oath of Enlistment and signed his name on the dotted line in this ALL VOLUNTEER Army.  He raised his hand and stated that he would follow the lawful orders of the Officers appointed over him.  Those orders include not copying, sharing or disseminating SIPRNet/Classified information.  He broke the law.

    1. I think that courage means doing what’s hard, dangerous, or frightening because it needs doing. He knew that he faced serious consequences (as in going to jail for life, as we heard in that little film) and followed his conscience anyway.

    2. Manning did go through channels. He told his superiors that the civilians he was bringing in as “terrorists” were not, in fact, distributing terror pamphlets, but really tracts on theft by the government. He had those translated, as no one else had – he had been told they were terrorists pamphlets.His superiors told him to shut up and get more “terrorists”. God knows how many men are rotting in torture cells to this day because of “channels”. Read up. 
      What laws did his superiors break, ordering Manning to bring in the innocent? Are they on the docket? Where are they being tortured for the last year or two?

    3. Manning swore primarily to preserve and protect the Constitution of the USA against all enemies, domestic and foreign. “Follow orders” is not  that. He was ordered to bring in innocent pamphleteers who his superiors had decided, without reason, as “terrorists”, even tho he had proven they were not. So his superiors were endangering the lives of all soldiers, and civilians, in present and future conflicts with the people they were torturing and those who would someday avenge them, all in a stupid war against no one for oil that, if Wikileaks had existed in 2003, we might never had had to fight if a Manning had leaked the process of lies that Cheney and Wolfowitz were selling us on. Not to mention that knowingly arresting and imprisoning innocent civilians in a “war” zone is violating who-knows how many treaties we are signatory to – and EVERY TREATY is as inviolate as the Constitution itself – the Constitution says so – the law of our land. So he indeed held up his oath, bravely. And now cowards and liars will punish him until he dies.

  5. Why was the original chrissnipes poster account apparently banned?  His posts may not follow the general tone of the audience here but he is provoking intelligent conversation around the issue.  (Of course that conversation’s been had in many, many, places, so maybe it’s just redundant at this point?)

    1. We are NOT going to back to the stone age in every Bradley Manning post because some jingoistic first-time commenter hasn’t bothered to do even the most minimal reading to see what really happened or bothered to consider the implications of “I was just following orders.”

  6. You ever try to talk to IG? It got out that I was thinking about going to the IG about something. I got a little talk about how much harder my life was about to become, and I wasn’t in a war zone.
    You’re pretty high on the RWA scale, aren’t you?

    (Edit: This was supposed to be a reply to ChristopherSnipes. Somehow my logging in screwed that up.)

    1. Amen. I reported fraud and got my whole team reassigned.  Confidentiality is a joke; how many people are there in a position to report any particular issue? 

  7. “the overall effect (of the film) is strangely dehumanising” – I have to disagree, I found it a poignantly humanising portrayal of a young person grappling with immense personal and political issues.

    1. Glad you thought it more sympathetic – that was the intention. Although being stuck behind a screen/IM chatlog does tend to make *real* human connection difficult…

  8. What a great short. More powerful than any number of articles, especially for those of us (formerly) not that interested in the case.

  9. Yes, because repetitive canned comments about how Manning is a hero contribute to the discussion, while repetitive canned comments about how he violated his oath are disruptive.

    Personally, I think that if Manning had selectively leaked a small quantity of on-point documents to some journalists or anti-war legislators, rather than dumping a cubic shitload of  irrelevant correspondence on the open internet, his defenders would have a little firmer ground to stand upon.

    It’s the difference between (1) leaking a record showing that my boss is selling tainted meat, and (2) leaking the entire contents of his office, including the love letters to his wife, his chemotherapy appointments, and his betting slips.

    1. So, people are abusing a secret network by using it to send love letters to their wives? I think that should be reported. And if a “cubic shitload” of it is irrelevant, so what? What’s your point?

      (Can I unlike this? I accidentally hit the wrong button. What I meant to do was reply.)

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