Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of passing on some 720,000 diplomatic and military documents to the whistle-blower site Wikileaks, “should never have been sent to Iraq.” An investigative film by the Guardian says that Manning was so “mentally fragile” prior to his deployment to Iraq that he urinated on himself, routinely shouted at officers, displayed violent behavior and had regular psychiatric evaluations.
Manning was arrested just over a year ago on May 26, 2010, after he was found to have leaked thousands of US diplomatic cables spanning five decades, along with top secret documents about the Iraq War and the war in Afghanistan. Wikileaks has continued to publish materials including 759 classified military documents that provide new details about the men held at the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba, as well as evidence against the 172 men who are still detained there. After being held on a military brig in Quantico, Virginia, in solitary confinement, Manning was transferred to a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas last month. United Nations special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez, 250 of the US’s most eminent legal scholars and others had protested that Manning’s treatment was harsh and inhumane.
The Guardian‘s investigation describes Manning as a “mess of a child.” Said an officer from the Fort Leonard Wood military base in Missouri, where Manning trained in 2007:
The officer’s words reinforce a leaked confidential military report that reveals that other senior officers thought he was unfit to go to Iraq. “He was harassed so much that he once pissed in his sweatpants,” the officer said.
“I escorted Manning a couple of times to his ‘psych’ evaluations after his outbursts. They never should have trapped him in and recycled him in [to Iraq]. Never. Not that mess of a child I saw with my own two eyes. No one has mentioned the army’s failure here – and the discharge unit who agreed to send him out there,” said the officer, who asked not to be identified because of the hostility towards Manning in the military.
“I live in an area where I would be persecuted if I said anything against the army or helped Manning,” the officer said.
Despite several violent outbursts and a diagnosis of adjustment disorder, a condition that meant he was showing difficulty adjusting to military life, Manning was eventually sent to Iraq, where it is alleged he illegally downloaded thousands of sensitive military and diplomatic documents and passed them on to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
In Iraq, Manning received security clearance to work as an intelligence specialist. He continued to work in this capacity even though, as his lawyer David Coombs confirms, “the bolt was removed from his rifle because he was thought to be a danger” two months after he arrived in Iraq.
Further, security was “so lax” at his station in Iraq, Forward Operating Base Hammer, that not only did many of the 300 soldiers on base have access to the computer room where Manning worked — passwords to access the intelligence computers were written on Post-it type notes stuck on computer screens. According to eyewitnesses, Manning was “increasingly unstable and at times violent.”
The US Defence Security Service is investigating why the young soldier, who had received psychiatric counseling before being deployed to Iraq, was not screened more extensively before being assigned to work in intelligence.
Manning has been charged with “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense. He has denied all the charges against him and faces up to 55 years in prison.
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