Bradley Manning Should Not Have Been Sent To Iraq: Report
Warnings from military superiors about suspected Wikileaker Bradley Manning's mental health and fitness to serve should have kept him from being sent to Iraq, according to a documentary by the Guardian newspaper.
Manning is accused of leaking massive amounts of documents to whistleblower website Wikileaks. He's most famous for handing over a video in which U.S. helicopters mistakenly attack and kill dozens of civilians, including a pair of Reuters employees. Wikileaks titled the video "Collateral Murder."
The film follows Manning's struggles in military and civilian life. He was often harassed and abused by fellow soldiers and superior officers. Bullying from peers contributed to the deterioration of his mental state. Soldiers interviewed for the film say Manning obviously wasn't fit to serve. "Low-flying planes could've seen that kid wasn't suitable," says a soldier who served with Manning. The Guardian has posted a full transcript of the Q&A with the soldier here.
The soldier elaborates on the effect that bullying had on Manning:
Reporter: What's it like to be gay in the DU – in practical terms?
Soldier: For Bradley, it was rough. To say it was rough is an understatement. He was targeted, he was targeted by bullies, by the drill sergeants. Basically, he was targeted by anybody who was within arm's reach of him.
There was a small percentage, I'd say maybe 10-15 guys tops, who didn't care what chapter he was, who just wanted to coexist until they could get out and just get along. But the rest of them – we're talking mentally unfit. Some of them were there for criminal charges. Everyone who was there was getting kicked out. And between being mentally unfit and mentally unstable and being criminal, and then being locked in this room with the guys saying, "Oh, here's this little guy" – it was open season on him. Being gay – being Bradley Manning and being gay in the DU – it was hostile. He was constantly on edge, constantly on guard.
He was small, he was gay and he was a gay in hiding. You don't get into the military if you are gay. If you are gay and in the military, you lied to the military to get in. The recruiter told you, "Oh, don't say that," or someone coerced you and you ended up hiding that part of yourself. He was already a mess of a child to start with. Then you get him in there and expose him to sleep deprivation. When you are already unstable. When you are already incapable of having that mindset of suck it up and adapt and overcome.
Things reportedly only got worse for Manning when his support system at home began to deteriorate with the end of a long-term relationship.
The Washington Post recently reported that there were concerns over whether Manning should have been deployed. Although there was no formal recommendation from a mental health professional that he should be kept at home, his supervising officers did have him evaluated. They decided to let him serve because the Army was in dire need of personnel.
Sympathizers of Wikileaks and Manning, however, say that discussions of Manning's mental health distract from his possibly valid reasons for leaking the information in the first place. The Nation wrote that, mentally unstable or not, "he’s treated like a convicted criminal for what, if he’s guilty, was an attempt to expose the conditions soldiers were living under."