Bradley Manning’s Strange World

By Victor Thorn

Drag Queens, Transsexuals, Cross Dressing, Homosexual Computer Hackers, Gays in the White House and Rebellion Against the Military’s ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Policy

What Makes Bradley Manning Tick?

Did Bradley Manning leak classified military secrets because he was suffering a severe psychotic breakdown due to conflicts resulting from his desire to undergo a sex change operation? Manning’s attorneys think so, describing him as “a deeply troubled soldier struggling with issues of gender identity.”

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Indeed, Manning’s sexual identity deteriorated to such an extent that he adopted an online alter-ego named “Breanna,” ordered female hormone treatments while in Baghdad, and became a transvestite during military leaves. He told one acquaintance, “I cross-dressed, full on…wig, breast-forms, dress, the works.” Manning then photographed himself wearing women’s clothing and gave the pictures to Master Sergeant Paul Watkins. In addition, he ordered a book from that instructed males on how they could use reconstructive surgery to look more feminine, while also considering the possibility of electrolysis.

This information, though troublesome, is crucial because Bradley Manning’s entire identity revolved around his homosexuality and feelings of seething rage at the U.S. military for not facilitating his transgender lifestyle. Prior to hacking into government computers, Manning punched a female intelligence officer named Casey Fulton in the face, threw violent tantrums, overturned a table and broke computer monitors, hurled chairs in a fit of rage, and experienced three possible nervous breakdowns. He eventually received a demotion for his behavior, whereas other officers recommended that he forfeit his firearm.

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 Manning’s extremely fragile condition was no doubt fueled by being bullied, mocked, verbally smeared and physically attacked by fellow soldiers. Unable to function, the diminutive soldier often curled into a fetal tuck at night and wet the bed as he screamed into his pillow.

Feeling increased animosity, Manning characterized his colleagues as homophobes and “a bunch of hyper-masculine trigger happy ignorant rednecks.” This hostile environment also led Manning to sneer at his cohorts by calling “military intelligence” an oxymoron. Filled with disdain at those surrounding him, Manning delivered these shocking words. “I am not a piece of equipment. Take me for who I am, or face the consequences.” Revenge soon followed.

Criminal Hacker Network

Manning’s worries about transitioning from male to female actually began prior to his deployment in Iraq, leading him into a sordid web of homosexual computer hackers. The young private’s introduction to this shadowy realm came via his former lover, Tyler Watkins, a drag queen and computer hacker that operated out of the Boston area.

Later, after deciding to penetrate the Army’s computer files, Manning revealed his secret to Adrian Lamo, a notorious bisexual hacker that was convicted in 2004 of breaking into computers at Microsoft and The New York Times. Lamo then went on to become a member of San Francisco’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) and Queer Youth Task Force.

Alarmed by the gravity of his risky communications with Manning, Lamo contacted his former boyfriend, Timothy Douglas Webster, who had been employed in the past by Army counterintelligence. Lamo told Webster, “What I saw in those chats [with Manning] was an admission of acts so egregious that it required a response.”

 In addition, Lamo started funneling copies of his correspondence with Manning to Wired magazine’s senior editor Kevin Poulsen, another convicted hacker who, in 1994, plead guilty to money laundering, obstruction of justice, mail fraud and other cyber-crimes. After the Wikileaks scandal broke, Lamo stated that many of the primary figures involved were gay, or “a velvet espionage ring,” as he put it.

To illustrate the depths of Manning’s allegiance to his gay rights agenda, he boasted of smuggling downloaded data taken from military computers on CDs marked “Lady Gaga.” To those not familiar with pop music, Lady Gaga is an openly bisexual singer and gay rights proponent plagued for years by transgender rumors. Similarly, Manning—going by the name Bradass87—once described himself to transsexual blogger Xeni Jardin as such: “[My] CPU is not made for this motherboard.”

White House Insider

Manning’s obsessive battle against the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) policies even extended into the White House, where he befriended President Obama’s openly gay Director of Specialty Media Shin Inouye, who was tasked with outreach to the LGBT community. According to conversations with transgendered blogger Zinnia Jones, Manning said that Inouye was a source within the White House that kept him informed on Obama’s progress in repealing DADT. Manning then revealed, “He [Inouye] tried to sleep with me.”

Furthermore, after bragging about being connected to influential members of Washington, D.C.’s gay political scene, Manning also leaked military data to Chris Johnson, a reporter for D.C.’s gay newspaper The Blade. To show how ingrained this lifestyle was to him, the disgruntled activist G.I. marched in gay parades and attended Democratic gay rights fundraising events.

Columnist Ginger Thompson summarized this situation in an Aug. 8, 2010 article for The New York Times. “Manning’s social life was defined by the need to conceal his sexuality under DADT. He became obsessed with the repeal of DADT.” On the other hand, the website’s Adrian Chen wrote on Dec. 16, 2011 that Manning saw himself as “a cunning sexual strategist, screwing and seducing his way to influence among D.C.’s quasi-closeted military and political scene.”

Twinkie Defense

On Nov. 27, 1978, San Francisco supervisor Dan White murdered Mayor George Moscone and a gay legislator named Harvey Milk. As his defense, White’s lawyers claimed that he consumed too many sugary snacks that led to his clinical depression. This failed strategy came to be known as the “Twinkie Defense.”

Interestingly, one of Bradley Manning’s computer passwords was “Twink1492” [slang for effeminate gay men]. In this updated and exploited version of the Twinkie Defense, Manning’s attorneys assert that because the military didn’t accommodate his desire to become a transgendered female, their client experienced a psychotic crack that led to his self-destructive acts. When coupled with a deluge of abuse from fellow soldiers in Baghdad, Manning’s deterioration caused him to seek revenge against those he saw as tormenters.

In this sense, Manning’s detractors insist that he didn’t divulge classified secrets as an act of conscience, but instead lashed out at an institution that made him feel powerless and frail. Critics further explained that Manning—depressed, alienated and lonely—wasn’t motivated by love of country or patriotism, but rather an extreme homosexual agenda that allowed him to commiserate with the enemy.

Stated differently, akin to the Iraqi people or those in third world countries that were underfoot of the U.S. military, he too felt victimized as a closeted man trapped in a woman’s body that the U.S. military ran roughshod over via their DADT policies.

 In this vein, the Twinkie Defense unequivocally contends that Manning cannot be held responsible for any actions he committed because of pressures he felt from his surroundings. But is such an approach fair to thousands of other gays serving in the military that didn’t steal state secrets? In essence, Manning’s lawyers are arguing that homosexuals can’t be trusted with classified documents because the military is homophobic, therefore corrupting them into committing criminal acts.

Patriotism: A Dirty Word?

Since Manning and many of his colleagues were computer hackers, did they feel any loyalty to their country? Manning’s betrayer Adrian Lamo confessed quite tellingly: patriotism is something of a dirty word in the hacker community.

In this context, was Manning suckered in by an even larger scheme than the transgender agenda he so embraced? Sanjiv Bhattacharya of AOL News brought this issue full circle on July 21, 2010. “As it happens, [Adrian] Lamo was uniquely qualified to lead Manning on. All hackers are adept at manipulation: they play roles when they penetrate security systems—it’s called social engineering, and it often involves pretending to be someone else entirely. Consequently, manipulation and betrayal are not uncommon among hackers.”

Manning frequently referred to himself as a “ghost,” an actor in a body that actually wasn’t his. In fact, Manning’s counselor said that his patient “felt he was female” and that a host of gender identity struggles caused him to “feel like a monster.” But after being introduced to, and then exploited by, a subterranean netherworld of homosexual computer hackers, Manning’s image is no longer transparent as he faces a lifetime in prison.

Will Bradley Manning Be Courtmartialed?

Following a seven-day trial in mid-December at a makeshift Fort George G. Meade courtroom, Lt. Col. Paul Almanza will soon make recommendations to his military commander as to whether private first class Bradley Manning should face a court martial in regard to the theft of over 250,000 government documents that were eventually released to Wikileaks. The 22 counts brought against Manning include aiding the enemy and illegally stealing government secrets. The embattled soldier could face life imprisonment if found guilty of pilfering the battlefield reports in question.

As a former Army analyst, Manning sent shockwaves through the military and mainstream media in Apr. 2010 when Wikileaks posted video footage that later became known as “Collateral Murder.” Filmed in 2007, U.S. helicopter pilots were captured strafing Iraqi civilians with gunfire as they joked about and called their victims “dead bastards.”

The exposure of these damning actions—recorded from the cockpit of an Apache helicopter—caused the Army a great deal of embarrassment as they now had the blood of 11 innocent citizens on their hands. Antiwar critics unloaded on the Bush administration over these senseless casualties. In no time, a frantic manhunt was underway to find an individual that some called public enemy number one. Others referred to this whistleblower as the greatest hero of free speech since Daniel Ellsberg delivered his cache of Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and other publications.

In May 2010, federal officials arrested Manning on Iraqi soil for violating a top-secret security clearance that allowed him access to classified data. They were led to him after Adrian Lamo, the computer hacker that corresponded with Manning, snitched to a member of Army counterintelligence (see related story).

Shortly thereafter, Manning found himself imprisoned in Quantico, Va.’s Marine Corps brig where he claimed to have experienced prolonged abuses and inhumanities. His supporters allege that Manning was forced to endure solitary confinement for 23 hours a day—oftentimes naked—with no personal belongings in his cell. Then, at night, wardens allowed him to only wear a smock and sleep on a cot that had no sheets or covers.
As news of this treatment leaked out, the Pentagon was faced with another public relations disaster that created unwanted headlines. With no other option, Army superiors transferred Manning to the U.S. penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. Up until the date of his trial, Manning had spent a total of 19 months behind bars.

Julian Assange In More Hot Water

Ever since the Bradley Manning scandal erupted, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has adamantly denied having any contact with the young Army private that stole hundreds of thousands of government documents. During an Oct. 25, 2010 interview at London’s Frontline Club, Assange dismissed any possibility that he had knowledge of Manning’s involvement in the controversial hacking and high-tech thievery. Then, again on Dec. 17, 2010, Assange took it a step further by claiming that he had never even spoken with Manning.

However, at Manning’s court martial trial at Fort George G. Meade, prosecutors provided a plethora of evidence that they contend proves an ongoing cyber-relationship between Manning and Assange. This information is crucial because if Assange did conspire with Manning to obtain classified data, he could be charged with violating the U.S. Espionage Act.

This direct collaboration on Assange’s behalf undeniably complicates his stance that Wikileaks merely acted as a conduit to publish anonymously received material. But, if Assange failed to tell the truth and his role went beyond that of a mere journalistic endeavor, Wikileaks’ status as an innocent bystander in this affair is seriously jeopardized.

To prove the government’s case, digital forensics contractor Mark Johnson of the Army’s Computer Crime Investigative Unit provided 15 pages of correspondence between the two parties that was extracted from Manning’s personal MacBook Pro. Of particular interest in these online chats is Manning’s knowledge of Assange’s Internet user name and his Icelandic phone number.

Even more damning is a Mar. 8, 2010, conversation where Manning seeks Assange’s assistance in cracking the password of a government computer so that he can retain anonymity. Assange responded by providing a tool that was useful in deciphering the password in question. Later, after penetrating the military’s system, Manning informed Assange, “I’m throwing everything I’ve got on Guatanamo at you now. The upload is about 36 percent.” These documents would later appear on Wikileaks.

Taken one step further, Manning relayed to Adrain Lamo—the computer hacker that eventually snitched on him—how he had been in contact with Assange. Lamo responded by chiding Manning about this interaction, adding that—at least in his opinion—Assange was using Manning to do his dirty work for him.

If true, the conclusion to this scenario is clear. As Catherine Fitzpatrick wrote for the website Wired State on Dec. 19, “Julian Assange has now been definitely caught in a lie, and the implications of the chat logs published by Wired are now validated: Manning has been found to be directly in touch with someone named Julian Assange in chat, and had his contact information on his computer. Julian Assange and his lawyers, of course, have continued to lie about this. Assange claims he never got directly in touch with Manning. That’s so he can appear to keep his distance from the crime of inciting hacking.”

As a side note, it’s more than curious that Julian Assange has attacked 9-11 truth-seekers in the past, even going so far as to tell the Belfast Telegraph on July 19, 2010, “I’m constantly annoyed that people are distracted by false conspiracies like 9-11.”