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NYT on Wikileaks Pfc. Bradley Manning's Troubled Gay Past

The NYT wades right in to the Bradley Manning Wikleaks story with a discussion of his desperate, lonely past, and his sexuality...

Manning  "But it was around two years ago, when Pfc. Bradley Manning came here to visit a man he had fallen in love with, that he finally seemed to have found a place where he fit in, part of a social circle that included politically motivated computer hackers and his boyfriend, a self-described drag queen. So when his military career seemed headed nowhere good, Private Manning, 22, turned increasingly to those friends for moral support. And now some of those friends say they wonder whether his desperation for acceptance — or delusions of grandeur — may have led him to disclose the largest trove of government secrets since the Pentagon Papers."

His childhood in Haverfordwest, Wales:

"Former students at his school there, Tasker Milward, remembered Private Manning being teased for all sort of reasons. His American accent. His love of Dr Pepper. The amount of time he spent huddled before a computer. And then, students began to suspect he was gay. Sometimes, former classmates said, he reacted to the teasing by idly boasting about stealing other students’ girlfriends. At other times, he openly flirted with boys. Often, with only the slightest provocation, he would launch into fits of rage. 'It was probably the worst experience anybody could go through,' said Rowan John, a former classmate who was openly gay in high school. 'Being different like me, or Bradley, in the middle of nowhere is like going back in time to the Dark Ages.' But life ahead did not immediately brighten for Private Manning. After his troubled high school years, his mother sent him back to Oklahoma to live with his father and his older sister."

And his joining the Army:

"Before being deployed to Iraq, Private Manning met Tyler Watkins, who described himself on his blog as a classical musician, singer and drag queen. A friend said the two had little in common, but Private Manning fell head over heels. Mr. Watkins, who did not respond to interview requests for this article, was a student at Brandeis University. On trips to visit him here in Cambridge, Private Manning got to know many in Mr. Watkins’ wide network of friends, including some who were part of this university town’s tight-knit hacker community. Friends said Private Manning found the atmosphere here to be everything the Army was not: openly accepting of his geeky side, his liberal political opinions, his relationship with Mr. Watkins and his ambition to do something that would get attention...And as he faces the possibility of a lifetime in prison, some of Private Manning’s remarks now seem somewhat prophetic. 'I wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much,' he wrote, 'if it wasn’t for the possibility of having pictures of me plastered all over the world press.'”

What will the Right make of this? How will it affect the DADT debate, if at all? What do you think?

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  1. The damage that he has done to others struggling to be accepted as trustworthy members of the armed forces is probably incalculable. It took many years after the spy scandals in Great Britain for gays to be allowed access to classified material again. His irresponsible actions may well set back DADT reform efforts for another generation.

    Posted by: tyler | Aug 9, 2010 10:21:25 AM

  2. And this has to do with the kid being gay for what reason? Sounds like a good indictment of society, his family, and the general culture of hate he was exposed to, but how is this about his being gay?

    This is sort of like the joke Rush Limbaugh used to tell about mashed potatoes. "98% of all murderers ate mashed potatoes at some point in their lives ..."

    Is it that surprising that when someone is this rejected and tortured, he's gonna hang out with people that treat him decently? That is news?

    Is there supposed to be some evil gay cabal somewhere in a secret lair at the North Pole that seeks to overthrow world power through releasing things to Wikileaks? What is the point of this article, NYT, specifically?

    Posted by: Craig | Aug 9, 2010 10:24:07 AM

  3. i don't see politicians using this as an indictment of gays in the military. i mean this is ONE guy. it may actually serve as an argument against dadt, as it seems the fellow would have had more of support network, were he able to disclose his orientation.

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | Aug 9, 2010 10:25:09 AM

  4. When you don't consider and/or respect someone (black, gay, women, and the list goes on and on) who is taking a bullet; they are more than likely to turn the gun around on you..

    Posted by: True Words | Aug 9, 2010 10:41:48 AM

  5. Obama has no interest in overturning DADT -- as is obvious from all his recent actions and statements. His claim that he wanted to was a lie intended to wrest campaign donations from blinkered upper-middle class gays and lesbians with no understanding of the world and how it work.

    Bradley Manning will render DADT repeal dead.


    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Aug 9, 2010 10:52:28 AM

  6. Side bar comment: ANDY, could you PLEASE stop placing so much tracking garbage on this website! I've been waiting five minutes for the pages to stop loading. "Googleads" are driving me nuts!

    Back on topic...

    Sexuality has nothing to do with the predatory nature of the people surrounding this individual. They took advantage of his emotional unbalance. I think of Mattahari, even the drag queen from "Madam Butterfly".

    Consequences? Yes. This individual guilty of treason; pure and simple. Is accomplices are equally as guilty which is no different than some covert spy organization.

    Posted by: Rad | Aug 9, 2010 11:08:26 AM

  7. Well it won't help the DADT issue, that's for sure.

    It won't matter to the churchies that it was only one guy, or that sexuality has little to do with classified information.

    The brush is broad, well as long as you don't consider the priests abusing kids, that was just isolated, and we can't indict all priests based on the actions of a few.

    Of course the argument could be made that if he wasn't so stressed about hiding his sexuality, he might have felt more accepted, and performed better. Unfortunately, I doubt that will be the lesson that comes out of this though.

    Posted by: Alpha | Aug 9, 2010 12:34:40 PM

  8. This article is a hatchet job, plain and simple. That it is printed in the NY Times should give you an idea of how low our journalism "standards" have sunk.

    In the process of smearing him, the article also smears LGBT service members and gay people in general. Two birds, one stone.

    Note, the article lists NO reasons why this guy might have thought it important to reveal this information--aside from the fact that he is gay and un-American (and, of course, un-Christian).

    I especially love how the reporters just had to add that Manning dated a drag queen and that he sang Lady Gaga songs while watching some military footage. What the hell relevance does either of those facts have--except to disparage all gay people.

    The NY Times deserves to go bankrupt.

    Posted by: Trog | Aug 9, 2010 1:40:15 PM

  9. If the NY Times thinks this guy is some sort of insane criminal then why did they publish the material he essentially provided them? Oh, painting him as such allows them to get off the hook? A site like Wikileaks is important because it exposes all sorts of corruption and abuse, but they seem to have lost site of their mission here. They need to be agenda free or material neutral rather than opinionated, but that animus that drives many in the world against the US is hard to contain internally, so this stuff gets out. The problem with their current "opinion" of the US is that it does not lend itself to a morally better remedy.

    Posted by: anon | Aug 9, 2010 1:59:21 PM

  10. The NYT isn't smearing him, in my opinion - it's describing his life as far is it could find out. Yes, his act was probably treason if it endangers other Americans. However, the article explains what drives someone to that, clearly -- and the answer is neuroticism coupled with lack of friends or support from society. I agree with the other poster that this an indictment on America as much as it is on this private. Growing up rejected in Oklahoma, Wales, and in the military does not make a patriotic American -- and should it?

    Posted by: X | Aug 9, 2010 2:23:20 PM

  11. Re: X
    I would not say the only reasons a person would release military information boil down to neuroticism and lack of friends/support. Granted, that might be the case with Manning.

    However, Manning (or anyone else who commits similar acts of treason) could have released the information because he truly believes the war is wrong and harmful and that our military establishment is corrupt and dishonest.

    A person in Manning's position could be, in fact, highly motivated by a love of his or her country and the idea of democracy and equality. Perhaps releasing secret files sheds light on the lies we are told and on the horrors we inflict on innocent people abroad. By committing treason, he could help get America back on track to reaching its potential as a beacon of fairness.

    Posted by: Trog | Aug 9, 2010 2:48:24 PM

  12. This is interesting.
    If you lookup history on Adrian Lamo (the hacker from San Francisco) there are bits and pieces online about Lamo being bi perhaps.
    And Lamo has declined to release the chat logs between the two.
    Certainly an interesting case of betrayal.

    As regards to Manning, I see him as a courageous fellow. Truth always triumphs.

    Posted by: suede | Aug 9, 2010 3:36:17 PM

  13. I was in Cambridge earlier today. Excellent Pinot Noir 2 bucks a bottle at Supreme Liquors in Central Sq! Woo hoo! I also attended Brandeis in Waltham one summer before moving on to....never mind.

    Manning's mistake was being FAR too trusting. AND he sounds like a guy with a huge fucking ego...maybe mentally ill. I'm no expert.

    As a vet, I despise what he did and hope the book is thrown at him. As a gay man, he's done HUGE damage to the reputation of gays in general, fair or not. And no one should romanticize Manning; he did what he did because he's pissed off at the world, nothing more noble than that.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 9, 2010 5:19:26 PM

  14. Lamo's dad was Colombian and Lamo himself was born in Boston. I think he lives in Sacramento now, not S.F. But he sounds like a nefarious dude. I wouldn't trust him to give me the right time of day.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 9, 2010 5:33:09 PM

  15. *snicker* the Welsh found Brad's Oklahoma accent funny and teased him? What a surprise. They teased and ostracized him partly because he's American. What a surprise. I'm shocked....shocked. A gay, physically small American kid, with a Oklahoma accent; who's fucking bright idea was it to send him to Wales? He must have been totally fucked up after spending a few years in the UK as a gay American kid from Oklahoma. Brilliant idea. Brilliant parenting. Mom and dad must be fucking proud. Surprising he didn't kill himself long before now.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 9, 2010 6:14:18 PM

  16. 'but that animus that drives many in the world against the US ...'


    I'm not excusing bad behavior, but seriously...the rest of the fucking world is pure as the driven snow, except the evil America? C'mon.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 9, 2010 6:23:55 PM

  17. So sad. Now fry him.

    Posted by: Harry Hornee | Aug 9, 2010 10:19:19 PM

  18. How is this about being gay you ask? By the very "Act" of your choiced to be gay you prove yourselves to be mentally unstable.

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 3, 2011 9:08:56 AM

  19. gay, straight or bi - who or what he loved is completely irrelevant. The loathsome things he exposed DESERVED to be exposed. It is one thing to keep military secrets like troop movements and plans, it is ANOTHER to cover up atrocities. Thank you Bradley Manning. I hope you'll be able to walk free soon.

    Posted by: fanboi | Mar 1, 2011 5:05:26 PM

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