Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, convicted last month of leaking thousands of classified files in 2009 and 2010, had long erupted in angry outbursts and collapsed in fits that his supervisors hoped would be controlled by therapy sessions, court-martial documents show.
So they allowed him to keep his security clearance despite his emailed photos of himself dressed as a woman and punching a female soldier in the face. Besides, the Army was short on intelligence analysts and needed his brainpower in Iraq, they said.
“I felt throughout the deployment that Manning’s presence as an analyst was important to the mission,” retired 1st Sgt. Paul Adkins, a master sergeant at the time, testified at Manning’s sentencing hearing at Fort George G. Meade, Md. “And my intent was to make sure, if I could possibly do it, that he could maintain his functionality as an intelligence analyst.”
Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, faces up to 90 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act, theft of federal records and more than a dozen other offenses.
Prosecutors have asked for a 60-year sentence, but the defense has requested a 25-year sentence to allow Manning to rebuild his life after his release.
A deeply troubled Manning struggled with a desire to be a woman and exhibited an explosive temper. According to court records:
• In 2008, Manning was set back in boot camp at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. It took him six months to complete a normally 10-week course.
He later told the judge: “Once at Fort Leonard Wood, I quickly realized that I was neither physically nor mentally prepared for the requirements of basic training.”
• In August 2009 at 10th Mountain headquarters at Fort Drum, N.Y., his supervisors referred him to mental health therapy for bizarre behavior. On one occasion, a superior found him screaming in a distressed state.
• When he arrived in Iraq in October 2009, he made no secret of his homosexuality despite a ban on gays in the military at that time. He also kept a fairy wand on his desk. Still, he was promoted to specialist.
• In December 2009, he exploded in rage after being told he had lost a day off for being chronically late.
• He visited the U.S. on leave in January 2010 and lived as a woman for two days.
• In April 2010, he emailed his master sergeant a photo of himself wearing a blond woman’s wig and makeup, and described his sexual conflict as “my problem.”
• That month, he also told a superior officer that the video of a helicopter ground assault looked like the one he had seen in a classified judge advocate’s Web page — a tip-off that he was accessing secret sites.
• The following month, a supervisor found him curled up in a fetal position; later that day, Manning punched a female soldier in the face.
The public record indicates that no one moved to revoke his security clearance until his arrest in May 2010, after a confidant turned him in to the FBI.
“I thought at the time that it was something that was being handled by his therapist and had I forwarded it, I was concerned that the photo would be disseminated among the staff,” Mr. Adkins, Manning’s former master sergeant, testified to explain why he did not alert superiors to the photo of Manning as a woman.
Mr. Adkins was reduced in rank for his failure.
“I don’t remember exactly why I didn’t recommend the clearance be removed specifically,” he said. “But the intent in regards to him staying in the [unit] was, I felt that his presence what he provided to us as an intelligence section was important enough to retain him.”
On April 26, Mr. Adkins wrote a memo “for the record” — but not to a superior: “SPC Manning has exhibited bizarre behavior, stopping in mid-sentence during conversations, giving blank stares when spoken to, and similar behavior, which has increased in frequency and intensity.”
Chief Warrant Officer Joshua Ehresman testified that he had witnessed Manning’s hot temper in December 2009, when another soldier was counseling him for being late.
“He got angry and he slammed his fist on the table,” Warrant Officer Ehresman said. “And he grabbed on to the table and he lifted it and put his arm under it and lifted it over and dumped the computers onto the floor.”
“Appropriate action has been taken against 15 individuals identified in Lt. Gen. Caslen’s report,” Army spokesman Troy Rolan told The Washington Times. “In accordance with the Army’s long-standing policy to protect the privacy of individuals below the general officer level, specific information concerning their misconduct is not releasable.”