The Smearing of Bradley Manning

New and rancidly homophobic smears against Bradley Manning. Frontline started it this week with its “Wikisecrets” story.

The page links to a video about Manning’s private life, and to a rather voyeuristic look at his Facebook page. And little or nothing about his treatment in Quantico.

This was on May 25. Manning, as Julian Assange notes below, is hardly in a position to speak up. Instead, Adrian Lamo, his accuser, gets a lot of air time. (He does resemble the young Roy Cohn).

And the Guardian did likewise on May 27, with a nasty story (“Bradley Manning Should Never Have Been Sent to Iraq”), a ludicrous video (“The Madness of Bradley Manning”) and a story about “The Bullied Outsider Who Had Access to US Military’s Inner Secrets”.

(One side note: Manning’s charge sheet and other allegations have him with access to Secret-level or below. No, no. “Inner secrets?” The date and location of Operation Overlord, maybe. The plans to the Norden bombsight, or the particulars of the Manhattan Project, or the plan to kill bin Laden. Not the material in Wikileaks allegedly from Manning.)

The Guardian followed with this followup, on May 28.

The theme always the same, as it was in the NYT smear late last year, essentially, that a troubled, sensitive boy like this shouldn’t be in the military or trusted with military secrets. Julian Assange, at least, provides a refutation and tries to stick up for PFC Manning. His unredacted account of his encounters with Frontline and NYT is a long article, but worth a read, for Assange’s depiction of the cherry-picking that Frontline, and before that, NYT did on Manning and Wikileaks, and for Assange’s defenses of Manning. One key point among several: Assange asserts that he’s not sure to what extent, or even whether, Manning was involved with Wikileaks. And Assange is sticking up for Manning.

Assange does bring up the first such hatchet job on Manning, the NYT profile on Aug. 8, 2010.


A. And the treatment of Bradley Manning was really appalling; that while there had been some brief descriptions of him in Wiredmagazine, there had not been a proper treatment of him as a person presented to the U.S. public.

The New York Times decided to do the first one, so it carried with it a special responsibility, because it was the initial version of history of this young man that was being laid down, a young man completely unable to speak for himself. He is detained in a military prison, not talking to the press and, at that stage, possibly not even having the ability to speak at all to the press — even indirectly — through lawyers.

So what did The New York Times do? It could have looked in a balanced way at what was known about him, presented the difficult situation that he was in with the facts about perhaps why he said he had done what he’s alleged to have done. That never —

Q. [Frontline]: We don’t have any statement why he did. We have a chat with Adrian Lamo that you say you can’t trust.

A. We have a chat with Adrian Lamo which we cannot trust in detail.

Q. So that’s not exculpatory material, is it?

A. But that chat is the chat that The New York Times used. It selectively picked material from that chat to paint Bradley Manning in a certain light as — let me put it crudely — as a sad, mad, bad fag in the military.

A British MP for Wales, Ann Clwyd, did offer this defense as well, on May 27. Ms. Clwyd also raised the issue of Obama’s unlawful command influence over the trial, Obama’s remarks at a Democratic fundraiser, something the Congress has yet to notice.

The main issues in all this: 1) the media’s consistent repetition of certain pictures, alleged chats, alleged military record of Bradley Manning, as if radiating from a single source; 2) the homophobic meme that a nervous, sensitive boy like Manning — or, by extension, anyone like him, i.e., a “fag”, should not be in the U.S. military; 3) the unbroken assumption that Manning actually did anything, in the run-up to his trial; and 4) whether this will prejudice his trial. (See my post on unlawful-command-influence doctrine).

BTW, at this point Manning has been in jail for a year without even Art. 32 (pretrial) proceedings. An unattributed remark at the end of the Guardian video claims that his court-martial will be in December 2011.


4 responses to “The Smearing of Bradley Manning

  • harpie

    This slime against Manning is even uglier, but what it reminds me of is when Matthew Dowd publicly disagreed with and broke with Bush-and-the Cheney-Gang.

    The term was personal turmoil. I thought at the time this term was used against Dowd because it is often used disparagingly against women who don’t know their place. [“He’s not a Real Man”] This is how Nicolle Belle at Crooks and Liars described it [4/1/07]:

    Bartlett refers to Dowd as a “close friend”, then proceeds to talk about his personal issues to give the impression that the situation in Iraq and obstacles he’s facing in his personal life have somehow clouded his judgment. This is the same despicable tactic we’ve seen Republicans use time and time again against former administration officials who dared to speak out against Bush.

    And now it’s being used [by whom?] against Bradley Manning.

  • PI

    Attacks on Manning’s “manliness” seem to be all they have. But if they are going to use rigid gender assignments to smear the guy, the tactic doesn’t really work. Because isn’t courage supposed to be the attribute, the ne plus ultra, of a good soldier? What is more courageous than to risk everything for the sake of upholding the founding principles of your country? I thought that we glorified the troops for this very reason.

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