Bradley Manning, family, and doctors take stand: report and analysis: trial day 34
By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. August 14, 2013.
Pfc. Bradley Manning took the stand to deliver an apology for the method with which he exposed the wrongs he witnessed in Iraq, as his defense concluded its sentencing case. He faces a maximum prison term of 90 years, after he was convicted last month of 20 counts of Espionage, Computer Fraud, federal theft, and Army violations. In February, he explained releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks as an act of conscience, to spark a debate on war and U.S. foreign policy.
“I’m sorry,” Manning said in an unsworn statement. “I’m sorry that my actions hurt people and hurt the United States.” While the open sessions of the sentencing hearing have revealed no casualties connected to any of WikiLeaks’ releases, diplomats testified that some democracy activists had to be relocated, and those tasked with reviewing the war logs said they had to notify some sources in Iraq and Afghanistan of potential retribution for cooperating with the United States.
Rather than apologize for blowing the whistle on the abuses he witnessed, he explained that he regretted the method with which he did so. “In retrospect I should have worked more aggressively inside the system,” he said. “[I] had options and I should have used these options.”
I did not truly appreciate the broader effects of my actions. Those effects are clearer to me now through both self-reflection during my confinement in its various forms and through the merits and sentencing testimony that I have seen here. I am sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions. When I made these decisions I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.
Discussing his future aspirations, he said, “I want to be a better person, go to college, get a degree. I want to be a positive influence in other people’s lives.”
“Bradley’s brief statement today to Judge Lind apologizing for what happened in no way alters the fact that he took heroic action in the midst of an illegal war,” said Jeff Paterson, director of the Bradley Manning Support Network. “He certainly didn’t blow the whistle on the wrongs he saw in the correct military manner, but he did something while most did nothing. That is why millions have been moved to support him, and why we will not relent until he is free.”
The statement followed a day of testimony in which Manning’s doctors and family discussed his mental health, stressors, and childhood.
Military doctor: Manning “true to his principles”
Dr. David Moulton, the defense’s expert on forensic psychiatry, reviewed Manning’s medical records and history, and diagnosed him with Gender-Identity Dysphoria (GID), also known as Gender-Identity Disorder, along with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and some traits of Asperger’s. GID is the desire to live in part or completely as the opposite gender, and/or the feeling that one was born with the ‘wrong’ gender.
Dr. Moulton said that the thing that stood out most about Manning was his consistency, as his beliefs held up throughout interviews and statements. Asked if he believed that in the future Manning would try to correct something that violated his sense of morality, Dr. Moulton said, “I think historically Manning has been pretty true to his principles.”
He said he displayed some “narcissistic traits,” such as “grandiose ideations,” and “arrogant and haughty behavior” when stressed. He said that Manning had “post-adolescent idealism,” a relatively normal focus on making a difference in the world and enacting social changes, for those aged 18-24.
Prosecutors honed in on the claim that Manning was narcissistic, attempting to show him as someone who didn’t respect his fellow soldiers. They asked Dr. Moulton about chat logs with Adrian Lamo, in which Manning called his fellow soldiers “a bunch of trigger happy ignorant rednecks,” and if that indicated further narcissism. But Dr. Moulton said, “I can’t say I haven’t” called fellow Marines “rednecks.”
Military psychologist on the Army’s “openly hostile environment”
Dr. Michael Worsley, the clinical psychologist Manning saw in Iraq, testified about their therapy sessions and Manning’s issues while he was deployed. In May 2010, he diagnosed Bradley with GID along with an anxiety-related but unspecified personality disorder.
The doctor discussed how GID isolated Manning and gave him great stress, as gender is a core part of our identity, adding to the pressures and difficulty he already endured as a homosexual soldier under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT). Even without GID, Dr. Worsley said, Manning was working in an “almost openly hostile environment” that made life “extremely difficult.”
Revealing oneself as homosexual in the military could result in a court-martial at the time, and even today after DADT’s repeal, revealing one’s desire to be the opposite gender would result in administrative separation from the Army.
Manning had no real support system to reach out to about his issues. Dr. Worsley said that soldiers are already separated from their support base, but Manning didn’t really have one back at home anyway. Now he was put in a “hyper-masculine environment,” so the pressure would’ve been “incredible.”
Dr. Worsley said in May (Manning was arrested later that month), he and behavioral health officials discussed what was best for him, believing he should be chaptered out of the Army, because GID was a “long-term issue” that would be “better served outside of the military.”
Manning’s sister and aunt describe childhood
Casey Major-Manning, Bradley’s older sister, testified about their childhood, marred by alcoholism and neglect. Both of their parents drank daily; their father was a functioning alcoholic while their mother slept until noon, at which point she began to drink until she dropped. Casey, who was just 11 years old when he was born, changed Bradley’s diapers and brought him a bottle, as his mother was frequently too drunk. Bradley’s mother drank and smoked cigarettes at least six months into her pregnancy.
Bradley’s aunt, Debra Van Alstyne, testified about how Manning has changed in the last three years, since his arrest.
“He understands there are people who love him, care about him,” she said. “I’m not sure he understood that before.”
Asked what she would say to Judge Lind, regarding Manning’s potential sentence, she said, “I just hope she takes into account he had a very hard start” in life. “He just thought he was doing the right thing when I think he was really not thinking clearly at all.”
The defense then rested its sentencing case. Court will resume Friday, at 1:00pm ET, for a potential government rebuttal case.