Manning had been assigned in October 2009 to a support battalion with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Forward Operating Base Hammer, near Baghdad. There he had access to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet), used by the United States government to transmit classified information. He was arrested after Adrian Lamo, a computer hacker, reported to the FBI that Manning had told him during online chats in May 2010 that he had downloaded material from SIPRNet and passed it to WikiLeaks, which had already started publishing it.
The leaked material is said to have included over 250,000 United States diplomatic cables, the first of which WikiLeaks published in February 2010, with newspapers publishing the rest from November that year onwards; Apache gunsight footage of the July 12, 2007, Baghdad airstrike, published by WikiLeaks in April 2010 as the "Collateral Murder" video; and F-18 gunsight footage of the Granai airstrike in Afghanistan, which WikiLeaks said it planned to release in future.
Manning was at first detained in a military jail in Kuwait, then was transferred in July 2010 to the Marine Corps Brig, Quantico, Virginia, where he was held in "maximum custody" solitary confinement awaiting medical reports and a pre-trial hearing. Amnesty International expressed concern in January 2011 about the conditions in which he was being held, calling them harsh and punitive, and 295 American legal scholars signed a letter in April saying the conditions amounted to a violation of the U.S. constitution. On April 20, 2011, the Pentagon transferred him to a new facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is able to interact with other pre-trial detainees.
Early life and educationManning was born December 17, 1987 and he was raised with his older sister in Crescent, Oklahoma, to an American father, Brian Manning, and his wife, Susan Fox, who was born in 1953 in Haverfordwest, Wales. His father had been in the United States Navy for five years, and his parents met when his father was stationed in Wales at Cawdor Barracks. Manning was raised in Crescent, where his father worked as an IT manager for a rental car agency. He was small for his age—as an adult, he reached just 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m) and weighed 105 lb (47.6 kg)—good at the saxophone, science, and computer games, and even in elementary school had said he wanted to join the U.S. Army. One teacher told reporters that Manning was smart and opinionated, but was never in trouble. He was one of the few people in his community who openly rejected religion; David Leigh and Luke Harding write that he would refuse to do homework related to the Bible, and remained silent during the reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance. They also write that his father was strict with him, which may have contributed to his becoming introverted and withdrawn, something that deepened when at age 13 he began to realize he was gay.
One neighbor said his mother had difficulty adjusting to life in the U.S., and his father was often away, so Manning was largely left to fend for himself. His parents divorced when he was 13, and he moved with his mother to Haverfordwest, Wales, attending the local Tasker Milward school. He became known there for having an attitude, and for spending lunch times at the school's computer club, building his own website. Tom Dyer, who was at school with him, told reporters Manning would speak out if there anything he disagreed with, which included having altercations with teachers. He said Manning was bullied because he was an American, the only one at the school; other students would impersonate his accent and mannerisms. He was also targeted for being effeminate; Denver Nicks writes that he had told his schoolfriends in Oklahoma that he was gay, but he was not open about it at school in Wales.
He returned to the United States after sitting his GCSEs, moved in with his father and sister in Oklahoma City, and took a job with a software company, Zoto, but he fell out with his dad over his sexuality, and was asked to leave home. He moved in with a friend in Tulsa, where he took low-paid jobs with Incredible Pizza Company and F.Y.E., a music store. He apparently also lived in his car for a time. Nicks writes that he then moved to Chicago, and later went to live with his aunt, Debra Van Alstyne, in Potomac, Maryland, where he took classes at a local college, and worked for Starbucks, and Abercrombie and Fitch.
Enlistment in the U.S. Army and deployment to IraqHe enlisted in the army in October 2007, doing his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and after graduating in April 2008 moved to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where he trained as an intelligence analyst. Nicks writes that he was reprimanded while there for posting messages to friends on YouTube that apparently revealed sensitive information. In August 2008, he was sent to Fort Drum in Jefferson County, New York, where he waited to be sent to Iraq. It was there in the fall of 2008 that he met Tyler Watkins, with whom he had his first serious relationship, posting happily on Facebook about it. Nicks writes that it appears to have ended by September 2009, though Leigh and Harding say it ended around May 5, 2010. Watkins was studying neuroscience and psychology at Brandeis University near Boston, and Manning would regularly travel there to visit him. It was at Brandeis that he was introduced to Watkins's network of friends, and the university's hacker community, as well as its ideas about the importance of information being free. He visited the university's "hackerspace" workshop, and met David House, the computer scientist and MIT researcher who has been allowed to visit him in jail twice a month, the only person apart from his lawyer with permission to do so.
In October 2009, Manning was sent to Iraq to work for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division, based at Forward Operating Base Hammer, near Baghdad. Reportedly unhappy here, he was reprimanded for assaulting another soldier, demoted from Specialist to Private First Class, and sent to a chaplain after officers noticed what ABC News said were "odd behaviors." When he introduced himself by e-mail to Adrian Lamo in May 2010 he wrote that he was about to be discharged because of what he called an adjustment disorder.
Alleged disclosure of classified material
WikiLeaks was set up in late 2006 as a disclosure portal, initially using the Wikipedia model, where volunteers would write up and analyze classified or restricted material submitted by whistleblowers, or material that was in some other way legally threatened. It was Julian Assange—an Australian with a background in computer hacking, and the de facto editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks—who had the idea of creating what he saw as an "open-source, democratic intelligence agency." The wiki element was abandoned, but the site remained open for the anonymous submission of leaked documents, using OpenSSL, FreeNet, PGP, and Tor.
The New York Times wrote in December 2010 that the U.S. government was trying to discover whether Assange had been a passive recipient of material from Manning, or had encouraged or helped him to extract the files; if the latter, Assange could be charged with conspiracy. According to Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former WikiLeaks spokesman, part of the WikiLeaks security concept was that they did not know who their sources were. WikiLeaks did not identify Manning as the source of the material, and according to NBC in January 2011, the U.S. government could find no evidence of direct contact between Manning and Assange. Manning told Lamo during their online chats in May 2010 that he had developed a relationship with Assange, but knew little about him. Lamo alleged later that Manning also said he had communicated directly with Assange using an encrypted Internet conferencing service, and that Assange had "coached" him. Lamo is the only source of these allegations; he said these statements from Manning were in the unpublished parts of the chat logs, but that the FBI had taken his hard drive so he no longer had access to the logs.
Manning's access to SIPRNet, material released by WikiLeaksManning is said to have first contacted WikiLeaks in November 2009, days after it posted 570,000 pager messages from the September 11, 2001, attacks. From his workstation in Iraq, Manning had access to SIPRNet and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, and in late 2009 he found the Apache helicopter video. He told Lamo: "At first glance it was just a bunch of guys getting shot up by a helicopter. No big deal ... about two dozen more where that came from, right? But something struck me as odd with the van thing, and also the fact it was being stored in a JAG officer’s directory. So I looked into it."
Manning's former partner, Tyler Watkins, told reporters that, while on leave in Boston in January 2010, Manning said he had found some sensitive information and was considering leaking it. During the same month Manning began posting on Facebook in a way that suggested he was upset about something. According to The Daily Telegraph, he wrote, "Bradley Manning didn't want this fight. Too much to lose, too fast," and said he was livid after being "lectured by ex-boyfriend."
On February 18, WikiLeaks posted the first of the material that allegedly came from him, a diplomatic cable dated January 13, 2010, from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland—a document now known as Reykjavik13. In the chat log, Manning called this a "test" document. On March 15, WikiLeaks posted a 32-page report written in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Defense about WikiLeaks itself. On March 29, it posted U.S. State Department profiles of politicians in Iceland.
On April 5, it published the Apache helicopter video of the July 2007 Baghdad airstrike, which Manning is alleged to have passed on in February; WikiLeaks called it the "Collateral Murder" video, and it attracted widespread coverage. On July 25, it released the Afghan war documents, and in October the Iraq War documents, internal military war logs and diaries. Manning is also alleged to have given them 251,287 U.S. state department cables—written by 260 embassies and consulates in 180 countries—which were passed by Assange to several news organizations. They were published in stages, the first by WikiLeaks in February 2010 (the Reykjavik13 document), then from November 29 by The New York Times, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, El País, and others. WikiLeaks said it was the largest set of confidential documents ever released into the public domain.
Manning's chats with Adrian LamoOn May 20, 2010, Manning is alleged to have contacted Adrian Lamo, a former "grey hat" hacker convicted in 2004 of having accessed The New York Times computer network without permission. Lamo had been profiled that day by Kevin Poulsen in Wired magazine after being hospitalized and diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Poulsen, now a reporter, is himself a former hacker who had used Lamo as a source several times over the years.
Lamo later told Glenn Greenwald that Manning had sent him several encrypted e-mails on May 20 after seeing a tweet from Lamo about WikiLeaks. Lamo said he was unable to decrypt the e-mails but replied to them anyway, not knowing who the e-mails were from or what they said, and invited the e-mailer to chat on AOL IM. Manning sent him some more e-mails, also encrypted. Lamo said he later turned these and the earlier e-mails over to the FBI without having read them. In a series of chats from May 21 until May 25/26—around 20 percent of which were published by Wired and The Washington Post—Manning, using the handle "Bradass87," apparently told Lamo that he had leaked classified material. He introduced himself to Lamo as "an army intelligence analyst, deployed to eastern Baghdad, pending discharge for 'adjustment disorder.'" Just over 10 minutes later he asked Lamo:
Lamo's approach to the FBI, partial publication of the chat logsLamo told Wired he had given money to WikiLeaks in the past, and that the decision to go to the authorities had not been an easy one. He said he believed lives were in danger: "[Manning] was in a war zone and basically trying to vacuum up as much classified information as he could, and just throwing it up into the air." Lamo said he had offered journalist-source anonymity to Manning during the chats, but he approached federal agents shortly after their first chat. Jonathan V. Last wrote that Lamo discussed what Manning had told him with Chet Uber of the volunteer group, Project Vigilant, which researches cyber crime, and Uber reportedly told Lamo to go to the FBI. On May 25, Lamo met with FBI and Army CID officers at a Starbucks near his home in California, where he showed them the chat logs. He met them again on May 27, at which point they told him Manning had been arrested in Iraq the day before.
The news of his arrest was broken on June 6 by Wired reporter Kevin Poulsen, who had written the May 20 Wired profile of Lamo. Daniel Domscheit-Berg described it as the worst moment in the history of WikiLeaks. Wired published around 25 percent of the chat logs on June 6 and June 10, saying the remainder either infringed Manning's privacy or compromised sensitive military information. Ellen Nakashima of The Washington Post published excerpts on June 10, and on June 19 BoingBoing published what it said was a more complete version.
Glenn Greenwald, writing in Salon in December 2010, called the failure to publish the logs in full "easily one of the worst journalistic disgraces of the year," writing that Poulsen and Wired had helped conceal the truth about the arrest. "In doing so," he argued, "they have actively shielded Poulsen's longtime associate, Adrian Lamo—as well as government investigators—from having their claims about Manning's statements scrutinized, and have enabled Lamo to drive much of the reporting of this story by spouting whatever he wants about Manning's statements without any check." In response, Wired's editor, Evan Hansen, wrote that the logs included sensitive personal information that had no bearing on WikiLeaks, and that it would serve no purpose to publish them. "That doesn’t mean we’ll never publish them," he wrote, "but before taking an irrevocable action that could harm an individual’s privacy, we have to weigh that person’s privacy interest against news value and relevance."
Arrest and charges
On March 1, 2011, an additional 22 charges were preferred, including wrongfully obtaining classified material for the purpose of posting it on the Internet, knowing that the information would be accessed by the enemy; the illegal transmission of defense information; fraud; and aiding the enemy. CBS reported that the new charges involved the leaking of the Afghan and Iraq war logs, and a quarter of a million State Department cables; according to ABC News, the charge sheets said Manning had transferred 380,000 records about Iraq, and 90,000 about Afghanistan. In all, CBS said, he is accused of having leaked over half a million documents and two videos. Prosecutors told Manning's lawyers they would not seek the death penalty, though the charge of aiding the enemy is a capital offense. They said if convicted he will face life imprisonment, reduction in rank to the lowest enlisted pay grade, a dishonorable discharge, and loss of pay and allowances.
Detention at Marine Corps Base QuanticoOn July 29, 2010, Manning was moved from Kuwait to the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, and classified as a "maximum custody detainee" held under a "Prevention of Injury" assignment until April 2011. At Quantico he was detained in a 6 x 12 ft cell, with no window, furnished with a bed, toilet and sink, and with meals taken in his cell. According to The Washington Post, the facility had 30 cells built in a U shape, and although the detainees could talk to one another, they were unable to see each other, according to his lawyer, David Coombs, a former military attorney and member of the United States Army Reserve. Coombs said in December 2010 that the guards were professional, and had not tried to bully, harass, or embarrass Manning. He was allowed outside his cell to walk for up to one hour a day, shackled. There was access to television for limited periods when it was placed in the corridor outside his cell. He was allowed to keep one book and one magazine in his cell—according to Leigh and Harding, he requested Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781)—but otherwise no writing materials, though access to them was given during allotted times. He was shackled during visits.
A Prevention of Injury order is one stop short of suicide watch. It entails checks by guards every five minutes, and no sleeping during the day. His lawyer said he was not allowed to sleep between 5 am (7 am at weekends) and 8 pm, and if he tried to, was made to stand or sit up. He was required to remain visible at all times, including at night, which entailed no access to sheets, no pillow except one built into his mattress, and a blanket designed not to be shredded. Until March 2011 he was required to sleep in boxer shorts, and had experienced chafing of the skin from the heavy blanket. On March 2, he was told that an Article 138 complaint filed in January by his lawyer—asking that he be removed from maximum custody and prevention-of-injury watch—had been denied. His lawyer said Manning subsequently joked to the guards that, if he wanted to harm himself, he could do so "with the elastic waistband of his underwear or with his flip-flops." This resulted in him being required to sleep without clothing and present himself naked outside his cell for morning inspection, which his lawyer described as ritual humiliation, though from around March 10 onwards he was given a wrap-around smock with Velco fasteners to sleep in. In response to the incident, the brig psychiatrist classified him as at low risk of suicide.
Manning letter from jailManning's lawyer released an 11-page letter from Manning on March 10, 2011, written to the U.S. military in response to their decision to retain his Prevention of Injury status. In the letter, he described having been placed on suicide watch for three days in January, and having had his clothing removed, apart from underwear, as well as prescription eyeglasses; he said the loss of the latter forced him to sit in "essential blindness." He wrote that he believed this was done as retribution for a protest his supporters had held outside the jail the day before; he alleged that, just before the suicide watch began, the guards began harassing him and issuing conflicting orders, telling him to turn left, then not to turn left. He also described being required to sleep without clothes and stand naked for morning parade: "The guard told me to stand at parade rest, with my hands behind my back and my legs spaced shoulder width apart. I stood at "parade rest" for about three minutes until the DBS [duty brig supervisor] arrived. ... The DBS looked at me, paused for a moment, and then continued to the next detainee's cell. I was incredibly embarrassed at having all these people stare at me naked. ..." He wrote that the smock he was later given to wear at night was coarse and uncomfortable, and that he regarded the removal of his other clothing as unlawful pretrial punishment.
Complaints about detention, government responseThe conditions of his detention prompted international concern. David House, the computer scientist allowed to visit him twice a month, said in December 2010 that he had watched Manning change from an intelligent young man to someone who appeared catatonic and had difficulty conducting a conversation. Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, a WikiLeaks volunteer, compared the treatment to what happened inside the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Ellsberg wrote that it amounted to "no-touch torture", and that its purpose was to demoralize Manning so he would implicate Wikileaks and Julian Assange.
A Quantico spokesman said in January 2011 that allegations of mistreatment were "poppycock," and that Manning had been designated "maximum custody" because his escape would pose a national security risk. The spokesman said Manning could talk to guards and prisoners in other cells, though he could not see the prisoners, and left his cell for a daily hour of exercise, and for showers, phone calls, meetings with his lawyer, and weekend visits by friends and relatives. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell and Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson visited Quantico in February 2011 to examine the conditions of the detention. Morrell said he was impressed by the professionalism of the staff, and that Manning's housing and treatment were appropriate. He said: "It just so happens that the configuration of the brig is that every individual is confined to his or her own cell. He's being provided well-balanced, nutritious meals three times a day. He receives visitors and mail, and can write letters. He routinely meets with doctors, as well as his attorney. He's allowed to make telephone calls. And he is being treated just like every other detainee in the brig."
Juan E. Mendez, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, submitted an inquiry about Manning to the U.S. State Department around January 2011, and in April accused the government of prevarication in response to his request for an unmonitored meeting with Manning, saying he was deeply disappointed and frustrated. Amnesty International issued a complaint to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and asked the British government to intervene on the grounds that Manning is a British national by descent through his Welsh mother. The British Embassy in Washington expressed concern to the State Department in March; Manning's case was raised in the British parliament by Labour MP Ann Clwyd, who is Welsh; and in April Manning's mother asked that British consular officials visit him in prison. In March, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley, speaking to a small audience, called Manning's treatment "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid"; he resigned two days later, reportedly under pressure from the White House. His remark, described as a personal opinion, prompted reporters to ask President Obama to comment on Manning's detention at a news conference; he replied: "... I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assured me that they are. I can't go into details about some of their concerns, but some of this has to do with Private Manning's safety as well."
In April, 295 American legal scholars signed a letter published in the New York Review of Books objecting to the conditions of Manning's detention. Signatories included Bruce Ackerman of Yale Law School, Yochai Benkler of Harvard Law School, and Laurence Tribe, also of Harvard; Tribe taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and worked until the beginning of 2011 as an adviser in the Justice Department. The letter said the conditions of the detention were a violation of the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against punishment without trial, and that if the conditions continue they may amount to a violation of the criminal statute against torture: "procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality."
Detention at Fort LeavenworthThe Pentagon transferred Manning on April 20, 2011, to the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility, a new medium-security facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where the military said he will have more recreation time and will be allowed to interact with other pre-trial detainees.
Pre-trial hearingIn accordance with the "speedy trial" rights of the Sixth Amendment, and applicable under military regulations in accordance with Manual for Courts-Martial Rule 707, a pre-trial hearing under Article 32 of the UCMJ is expected in May or June 2011 to determine whether a trial is warranted.
Public responseMichael Moore, who contributed $5,000; Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst; and Ann Wright, a retired army colonel. Rallies were held in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and Ireland, and by January 2011 donations for Manning's defense had risen to over $100,000, including $15,100 from WikiLeaks.
The hacker group Anonymous threatened in March 2011 to disrupt activities at Quantico by cyber-attacking communications and exposing information about personnel, calling it "Operation Bradical."