In a recent blog post that has since gone viral, one former soldier sheds light on Bradley Manning’s character in the lead-up to his unprecedented leak of vital national security information.
The soldier’s account differs strongly from Manning’s insinuations about his time in the U.S. Army. A 2013 Rolling Stone profile says of his experience:
Boot camp had been a misery. Bullied relentlessly, he suffered anxiety attacks, got into fights, even peed on himself (more than once).
The soldier posted his account on his personal blog in which he heavily disputed this idea saying instead:
Bradley Manning was not picked on or harassed because of his gender or identity; he was not bullied because he was small or appeared easily overpowered or dominated. No, Bradley Manning was ostracized. Because some unknown in his character prevented him from ever truly entering into that covenant of self-sacrifice upon which collective group defense depends, he could not ever satisfactorily contribute to the welfare of the group. In a social schema where the defense of the group becomes the perpetual rationale for why the group should even continue existing, Bradley Manning either could not or would not sacrifice enough of himself to inspire loyalty among comrades.
He continued in another anecdote that Manning often engaged in ostracizing behavior:
Manning called out the uniform of the day, waited until his squad was dressed and had moved out to the morning formation, when he then put on the real, correct uniform of the day and ran to catch up. The commotion at the formation was him saying that he heard at the last minute what the real uniform was and it wasn’t his fault they were wrong; the rest of the team apparently was having none of it. In the Army, if everyone is wrong together, then they’re still right; uniformity is one of the highest virtues in our military. If one person is technically “right” but the rest of the team is uniformly wrong, then the technically “right” person is still wrong; everyone is still punished equally. By week two everybody knew that, lived it and lived with it. Everyone, except Manning.
Manning was convicted and sentenced in 2013 for releasing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. The cables caused an international diplomatic embarrassment for the U.S.
Manning’s clemency application maintained his belief that he was unfairly sentenced to such a long period in prison saying:
“I have never made any excuses for what I did. I pleaded guilty without the protection of a plea agreement because I believed the military justice system would understand my motivation for the disclosure and sentence me fairly. I was wrong.”
Defenders of Manning often say he was suffering from gender dysmorphia throughout the lead up to his leaking of classified information, saying he was mentally unwell and should be forgiven. Former President Barack Obama seemed to agree with this line of thinking, echoing much of the same after he commuted Manning’s sentence allowing his release in May, 2017. This will put Manning out of prison 28 years ahead of scheduled.