This past Thursday, I was among a handful of individuals seated in the small windowless room at the military court facility in Fort Meade, Maryland, where Private First Class Bradley Manning would confess as the source of the largest leak of classified information in history.
Sitting in his dark blue full military uniform, Private Manning responded thoughtfully each time the judge addressed him, as he prepared to read aloud a 35-page statement that precisely detailed his actions and motivations for each of 10 charges. But as I witnessed this momentous occurrence, I was struck by a glaring inconsistency: the young soldier I saw in front of me – poised, resolute – bore absolutely no resemblance to his common depictions in the media from the last three years.
For over 1000 days, Private Manning has been held in military detention, in Iraq, Kuwait, Quantico, Virginia and Leavenworth, Kansas. Reports from these facilities and the media depicted Manning as unstable, depressed, weak, and worse. While imprisoned, he has endured some of the worst treatment imaginable at the hands of his own government, notably characterized by the UN special rapporteur for torture as “cruel, inhuman, and degrading,” possibly amounting to torture. Worse yet, this abuse comes in response to actions which Manning believed, and continues to believe, were in the service of both his country and international human rights law. Given all that he has endured, if the characterizations about his mental state were accurate, it would hardly come as a surprise.
Read more via Bradley Manning: The Conscience of America | Common Dreams.