Bradley Manning biography
Bradley Manning was born on December 17, 1987, in Crescent, Oklahoma. After joining the U.S. Army, Manning was sent to Iraq in 2009. There he had access to classified information that he found disturbing. Manning gave much of this information to WikiLeaks and was soon arrested for his actions. On July 30, 2013, he was found guilty of espionage and theft, but was found not guilty of aiding the enemy. In August 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Early Life and Joining the Army
Bradley Manning was born in Crescent, Oklahoma, on December 17, 1987. As a child, he showed an affinity for computers. Hoping to develop his computer skills and earn money for college, Manning joined the army in 2007. He was initially the target of severe bullying, perhaps because of his sexuality or small stature. However, his posting at Fort Drum in New York had some happy moments. He began dating Tyler Watkins, a college student who introduced Manning to Boston's hacker community.
Leak and Arrest
In 2009, Manning was stationed at the isolated Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq. His duties as an intelligence analyst there gave him access to a great deal of classified information. Some of this information—including videos that showed unarmed civilians being shot at and killed—horrified Manning.
While at work in Iraq, Manning—who allegedly made his first contact with WikiLeaks in November 2009—proceeded to amass information that included war logs about the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, private cables from the State Department and assessments of Guantánamo prisoners. In early 2010, he passed this information—which amounted to hundreds of thousands of documents, many of them classified—to WikiLeaks. In April, the organization released a video that showed a helicopter crew shooting at civilians. Releases of other information continued throughout the year.
When he returned to Iraq, Manning, who had also begun to question his gender identity, demonstrated behavioral problems and was demoted. Feeling lonely, Manning reached out to hacker Adrian Lamo. Using the screen name "bradass87," Manning confided in Lamo about the leaks. Lamo contacted the Defense Department about what he had learned, which led to Manning's arrest in May 2010.
Manning was first imprisoned in Kuwait, where he became suicidal. After returning to the United States, he was moved to a Marine base in Virginia. Manning was kept in solitary confinement for most of his time there, and was unable to leave his small, windowless cell for 23 hours each day. Deemed a suicide risk, he was watched over constantly, sometimes kept naked in his cell and was not permitted to have a pillow or sheets.
Even when a psychiatrist said that Manning was no longer a danger to himself, the conditions of his imprisonment did not improve. When word of these conditions spread, there was an international outcry. Manning was transferred to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas in 2011, where his cell had a window and he was allowed to have personal effects.
In January 2013, the judge in Manning's case ruled that his imprisonment had been unduly harsh and gave him a sentencing credit.
Charges and Court Martial
Manning was charged with leaking classified information in June 2010. In March 2011, additional charges were added. These included the charge of aiding the enemy, as the information Manning had leaked had been accessible to Al Qaeda.
In February 2013, Manning pleaded guilty to storing and leaking military information. He explained that his actions had been intended to encourage debate, not to harm the United States. He continued to plead not guilty to several other charges, so his court martial proceeded. On July 30, Manning was found guilty of twenty counts, including espionage, theft and computer fraud. However, the judge ruled he was not guilty of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge Manning had faced.
Manning's Future and the Leak Aftermath
The maximum sentence for Manning's convictions would be 136 years, but few legal experts believe he will receive that long a term. His sentencing hearing began on July 31, 2013. With numerous witnesses scheduled to be called, the proceeding is expected to take weeks. As Manning also has access to an appeals process, a final verdict on his case will not be available for years. Still, it is likely that he will remain in prison for decades.
As well as being an embarrassment to the U.S. government, the Obama administration has stated that military and diplomatic sources were endangered by Manning's leaks. Even with Manning's conviction, the debate continues as to whether he shared dangerous intelligence or if he was a whistleblower who received too harsh a punishment.
On August 21, 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. According to the military judge who ordered the sentence, Manning will not be eligible for parole until he completes one-third of the sentence, minus 3.5 years of time served.
According to The New York Times, Manning was dishonorably discharged (as stated by Judge Denise Lind), reduced in rank and forced to foreit all pay.
Manning announced just days after his sentencing that he was transgendered. "As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible," Manning said in a statement, according to CBS News. Unfortunately for Manning, the army has refused him hormone therapy or any other type of treatment to help Manning with his transition from male to female.