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Army Failed to Follow Warnings About Manning’s Mental Health

Army Failed to Follow Warnings About Manning’s Mental Health

Had the Army heeded a mental health specialist’s recommendation not to deploy Pfc. Bradley E. Manning to Iraq, one of the most extensive classified military network breaches may not have taken place. Manning is accused of passing semingly untold thousands of secret government documents to WikiLeaks. He was arrested by the Army after revealing that he had leaked video of a helicopter attack that killed two Reuters photographers and Iraqi civilians, and also some 260,000 diplomatic cables and intelligence reports. 

According to the February 2nd Washington Post, an Army investigation has revealed that, in the words of an official who is ‘familiar’ with it, ‘”There were serious leadership failures within the unit chain of command and gross negligence in the supervision of Pfc. Manning in Iraq.”‘ Even though a specialist at Fort Drum, N.Y., recommended that Manning not go to Iraq, his immediate commanders (who make the final decision about whether or not a soldier is able to go to a war zone) deployed the private. The Army ‘was facing a shortage of intelligence analysts in Iraq’ when Manning was sent there in 2009 the Washington Post reports.  

Accounts of Manning’s behaviors at Fort Drum and Iraq suggest that the Army should indeed have thought twice about deploying him:

At Fort Drum, Manning balled up his fists and screamed at higher-ranking soldiers in his unit, said the official familiar with the Army inquiry. In Iraq, a master sergeant who supervised Manning was so concerned about the private’s mental health that he disabled Manning’s weapon in December 2009, the private’s attorney, David E. Coombs, previously said. Also in Iraq, in May 2010, Manning was demoted a rank for assaulting a fellow soldier, the Army said. 



The investigation states that Manning’s immediate commander ‘should have taken more decisive action following the soldier’s disciplinary issues at Fort Drum and in Iraq’; whether or not those charged with overseeing his daily activities will face disciplinary action remains to be seen. Manning’s immediate commanders have been faulted for ‘running a lax Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility, or SCIF, an area that holds computers capable of accessing the classified Internet system used by the Pentagon and State Department.’ Soldiers were allowed to bring compact discs into the area; Manning is alleged to have used such discs (some labeled ‘Lady Gaga,’ according to online chats he is said to have had with former hacker Adrian Lamo, as reported in Wired) to download classified information. 


Top Pentagon officials ordered the investigation to be carried out, to determine ‘how the breach occurred and whether broader institutional failings allowed Manning to allegedly download the documents.’ The investigation was conducted by Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, the senior Army commander at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. According to military officials, Caslen is expected to relay his findings to the Army secretary this week and to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in mid-February. 


Manning is currently being held at a Marine detention facility at Quantico, Virginia. An August 2010 New York Times story about his earlier life suggests a troubled young man who joined the army in 2007 after briefly living out of his car; he had been kicked out of his family’s house in Oklahoma after his father learned that he was gay.  


According to an unnamed official in the Washington Post, ‘if proper security procedures had been in place, the acts Manning is accused of committing would have been impossible’—and Wikileaks would not have been nominated for a 2011 Nobel Peace Price, and Tunisians might not have risen up against their then-president Ben Ali, and, and, and. 



And, what if the Army had adequate services and coverage for soldiers with mental health needs?


Previous coverage
The Case of Pfc Bradley Manning

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Photo by Takver.

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7:38AM PDT on May 29, 2011

The bravery of Bradley Manning is not noticed because of the stories of his fear and trembling: the bravery with which he reported the facts of war rather than the approved reports given to the public. A kind of spy for the people, not against a foreign power but against the war itself. In the words of Pogo, as I recall, "we have met the enemy and he is us".

7:02AM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

Ups!I guess anyone who show a single bit of critical thinking and speaks his mind wouldn't pass the test,lol

11:49PM PST on Feb 21, 2011

I guess I'm confused. Maybe this young man shouldn't have been deployed, and maybe he has issues, but what does that have to do with him revealing illegal acts that he witnessed or had "privvy" to?

4:42PM PST on Feb 8, 2011

Check out the sign in the photo.

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
-- ain't that the truth!!

4:36PM PST on Feb 8, 2011

Several people have written intelligently about this article and Manning. Ann P. brings up some important points RE: power and responsibility. And that she wants to know other secrets about the banking scandal, etc. -- so do I.

To me, Manning and Assange are heroes. They let the light shine into some dark corners. I think we must be responsible with state secrets, because oft times, negotiations are going on, that we don't know about. But it seems as if Assange HAS been responsible in what he has shown the public. UNLIKE Cheney, who exposed a secret agent's identity, out of spite, for political gain -- that is called TREASON.

Manning -- a soldier with a conscience. We have a right to know when heinous crimes are done in our name, like the Reuters photographers and Iraqis killed by our helicopter.

Whether Manning had/has mental problems, is not really the point. A professional "thought" he did, and was ignored, and Manning was sent to Iraq. His superiors had slots to fill. With a volunteer army, you can't fill the slots ... so multiple tours, soldiers who maybe shouldn't go, being ordered to go.

However, the manner in which he has been treated, seems a little too much concern for his own good, don't you think? Suicide prevention, when the isolation is what might drive him crazy. Methinks the army is covering its hind quarters and doth protest too much.

2:05PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Agree with John B.: "It is the sign of a very sick mind and a very sick society when telling the truth is a sign of mental illness."

10:56AM PST on Feb 5, 2011

Balling up one's fists and yelling at one's boss would be considered bizarre behavior in any setting, military or civilian. As would assaulting a coworker. The comments re "military wants people to be obedient robots" are not relevant in judging Manning's behavior

6:13AM PST on Feb 5, 2011

I would say that this helicoptor attack in Iraq really needed to remain secret from the American public, including the rest of the World, as it's an example, unfortunately a pretty regular occurrance for Iraquis, of a military acting in and condoning an illegal action.
The fact that the suspected whistle blower is now imprisoned, rightly or wrongly, but nothing appears to have been done about the perpetrators of this murderous attack, shows the absolute truth of the matter, which is that your armed services are completely out of control. The chain of command has seemingly broken down, apparent almost from day one and is continuing, in the same manner, to this day.
If you cannot maintain complete control your armed forces, then don't let them leave America.

9:50PM PST on Feb 4, 2011

And what recommendations would we hand down on the army brass that continues to do what was so reprehensible to Pfc. Manning? Who's insane - and who's sane? This 'leaked' info (it's leaked - it's true. reference Rachel Maddow on the veracity of leaked information) is trying to justify keeping a man in known torture conditions and they're trying to say HE'S crazy? HE'S a danger to this country?
God help us....

11:11AM PST on Feb 4, 2011

I am glad that they sent him. Why is he mentally ill for getting angry and balling his fists up at a superior officer. The whole model of the army is flawed. It is meant to make individuals into non-thinking obeying killing machines. Who is the sick one here? If he had not told the secrets, the public would have carried on in ignorance. Is that really better? Think critically people. We should be glad that these people are exposed for doing the things that they do. I do not see this as a security breach, other than the fact that they were caught out being asses.

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