Bradley Manning: Did Homophobia Make Him Leak?

Bradley_Manning_2_(cropped)I mentioned this briefly in last night's links roundup, but it's become a pretty big deal: Private First Class Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence specialist who allegedly leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, has officially made his sexual orientation a keystone of his defense. From Salon:

The young Army intelligence specialist accused of passing government secrets spent his 24th birthday in court Saturday as his lawyers argued his status as a gay soldier before the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” played an important role in his actions.

Lawyers for Pfc. Bradley Manning began laying out a defense to show that his struggles as a gay soldier in an environment hostile to homosexuality contributed to mental and emotional problems that should have barred him from having access to sensitive material.

So: Manning — whose defenders have spent countless hours and expended countless millions of breaths proclaiming his nobility and rectitude — is now tacitly acknowledging that the Wikileaks leak was a wrong and regrettable thing, and that he'd never have done it if he was in his right mind. Whether he really believes that, or whether he's only saying it because his spirit was broken by ten months in solitary confinement in some dank Army oubliette, is unknowable. What is knowable, and queasy-making, is that lawyers are now arguing in a military courtroom that gays can't be trusted with classified material until the military is purged of homophobia.

As it happens, Manning's lawyers aren't the first attorneys to make that argument in recent memory. Ann Coulter made it months ago, in an article entitled "Bradley Manning: Poster Boy For 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'." Maybe he should hire her. It'd definitely score points with the allegedly homophobic military personnel hearing his case.


  1. Mary says

    “Did Homophobia Make Him Leak?”

    Believe it or not, my first thought was that he wet his pants.

    Of course, the obvious solution is that if homophobia makes you leak you shouldn’t be homophobic!

  2. Joey says

    His lawyer is trying to give the military a way to give him a lesser sentence. This isn’t a real trial. They have already tortured him and we all know they will convict him because he isn’t anybody important.

  3. Randy says

    I spent 7 years in the Military. I was at Nato Headquarters, U.S.Army Missle Command and assighed to White House Communications and I never leaked a thing, and God knows, I have a boatload of secrets on the government, Presidents, Congressmen, Senators and so on. I have been out of the military since 1992 and I have still yet to “leak” any secrets. And I have been gay since 1961, when I was born. Being gay is just propaganda. Plane and simple!

  4. Michael W says

    Are you kidding me? That is the lamest defense in the world. I must say that at one point I had some sympathy for the guy as I do not in anyway agree with the treatment he has been receiving pretrial.

    Now that they are somewhat admitting he leaked the info. Then my thoughts are he is a big boy and knew exactly what he was doing when he consciously downloaded classified docs. So throw the book at him.

    And gay don’t have a damn thing to do with it and that’s what the gay community needs to say right up front.

    Gay don’t = Traitor/Security risk

  5. Peter says

    Wow….Brandon, I think you are really misreading this.

    If you read the full chat logs on Wired, Brandon was really upset being stuck in Iraq, with “hyper-masculine trigger happy ignorant rednecks,” after having broken up with his boyfriend while dealing with gender identity issues. I don’t think his defence was making the case that some evil gay demon compelled Bradley to release the documents to Wikileaks.

    There is a point to be made, however, that Bradley WAS under a lot of psychological and emotional stress. In fact, he was judged by psychiatrists several times to be mentally unfit, but the army looked the other way because they couldn’t find enough people to send to Iraq.

    I think the defence is making an important point because he should’ve been sent back home to seek help, but his commanding officers failed to acknowledge this – and I might add that his superiors are partly responsible by overturning the recommendation of Bradley’s counsellors. I find this very tragic because Bradley is clearly a very intelligent person, and should be allowed to have the bright future he deserves.

  6. Jacques says

    Peter is absolutely correct, and it seems that several of the commenters above also misread the article.

    I would only add that the kid is in a shitload of trouble which is compounded by the politics involved. If his lawyers think this is the best (or only) defense strategy they’ve got, then more power to them for using it. Proclamations of his moral rectitude may be accurate, but they won’t fly in the court he faces.

  7. V-8 says

    even though I completely disagree with her, I thought what Ann Coulter wrote was sort of hilarious… I mean Gay G. B.?

    imagine a drag queen saying what she did, with sarcasm…

    her thoughts r so out there, and yet, like most repukeblicans, they manage to sound so credible and coherent by flooding u with ideas quickly, so that u can never get a footing when u first encounter it….

    what a strange situation this is… the fact is that (for what I can tell) most of the information leaked was not classified…. I think starting this war is way more problematic than leaking documents that show wrongdoings…. when is killing people and deceiving people okay? how is that American? how is that Christian? how is that being a good human being?

  8. RiccoRicco says

    Get a little more informed people before you pass judgment on Bradly Manning. The defense in not that he is gay, but how he was affected serving under the oppressive regime of DADT. Naturally, being gay would be a factor.

    Just because some of you served in the military without having leaked anything, and fared better has nothing to do with Bradley. We all, according to our natures, are affected by bigotry in different ways.

    Also, Bradley did not leak Top Secret documents, and in no way jeopardized the lives of soldiers on the ground, or American diplomats serving abroad.

    You are right, MICHAEL W, Gay does not equal Traitor/security risk . . . nor does your being gay make you culpable by association of like orientation to the actions of other gay men and women.

    Throw the book at him . . . seriously? For being a whistle blower? Because the real secret that he did not keep was that the United States murdered reporters and citizens and covered it up, like they do for every crime that is committed by U.S. personnel?

    And really, ALPHA . . . he should get the death penalty? For what . . . for being more of a man than everyone on this site, having the guts to uncover crimes?

    I am not sure that I agree with the defense his lawyers are making, though it is not the only defense. But you people calling for his head are just a bunch of Pu****s, who, like most of us, would not have the guts to do the right thing if confronted with having to make that choice, and for all your macho posturing, would take the low road, the easy way, shutting down the voice of your conscience, no matter how loud it was screaming at you, coasting through life and making no real difference in the world.

    The man is a fricking hero!

    He at least tried to make a difference . . . which is a hell of a lot more than any of us have done.

    If you all want to defend a government that has oppressed us since its inception, that is still oppressing us, with an entire filed of GOP candidates campaigning on the promise to repeal DADT, and signing pledges to further inhibit our rights, on the federal level, after months and months of saying they were for states rights to decide the issue of same sex marriage, and if you are willing to buy into the lies that have been sold us by politicians, by Obama, after breaking his most sacred promises to close Guantanamo . . . do your thin. You will be in the good company of gay bashers, homophobes, and politicians who are as changeable as the fricking weather.

    Bradley Manning is more of a man that President Obama, and the military leadership who are pissed, not because they believe Manning leaked Top Secret documents, or succored and abetted the enemy, but because he embarrassed them and exposed their lies.

    One of the most pathetic things about the too gradual emancipation of Black people were those Blacks who turned against other Blacks, after decades and decades of oppression from white people, willingly turned against each other to take up the white mans cause.

    It is pathetic to see cowards on this site, posing as men, condemning a man, whose boots they are not worthy to shine, so fricking ready to take up the heterosexual cause against someone they should be proud of because why? Because some fricking heteros sold a line of BS on Manning?

    I say if we are going to start shooting traitors . . . maybe you guys ought to jump to the head of the line.

  9. Alpha says

    Yes, he should get the death penalty for committing treason against his country. He wasn’t an officer, he was a PFC that thought he had the right to violate the law and disclose information. Being gay has nothing to do with the crime he committed.

    There are avenues within the military he could have explored if he thought there was a serious problem. He is a traitor, nothing more, nothing less.

  10. Alpha says

    By the way Ricco, you don’t just get to make emotional pleas and whine and cry your way into saying someone has committed treason. It’s a serious charge, and Manning appears to be guilty. Make all the excuses you want, but what he did was treason.

    If you want a soft discussion of manliness, the military isn’t the place for you. Frankly, getting all emotional about this and making it something that it isn’t is a big fear the straight people have about gay folks in general. Stop crying, and assess the situation.

  11. says

    @Mary, Mary, Mary, you should really have your reading comprehension tested (or stop trying to be clever — it’s not your thing, evidently). Manning wasn’t the homophobic party, the military was/is. The military’s homophobia is being cited as the cause of Manning’s leak.

  12. Mary says

    Sorry, Anastasia. Didn’t mean to trivialize a serious situation, I just thought the wording of the title was a little awkward.

    It’s been one of those days!

  13. Max says

    The death penalty is a bit exaggerated, but mitigated punishment is warranted. He should argue that the military is partially to blame for giving him all that access in the first place. What do they use for security, a sieve?

    Riccoricco, your rant was too long. Didn’t read. Lol.

  14. Dearcomrade says

    Describing him as both a private first class & then a Army officer is a pretty funny. The guy deserves a trial, but if his defense is going to try and run with an oppressive environment argument, I sure hope he like living in a cell. Whether it was classified, secret, or top secret, if found guilty of unauthorized release of government communications he deserves to be put away for a long time.

  15. RiccoRicco says

    I am sorry, MAXmillian for failing to keep it short. It was politically incorrect of me to go on so in a society that is morphing from a culture steeped in language to a text-based , twittering, dispassionate, monosyllabic culture condensed into emoticons, and half the alphabet with no more than 140 characters.

    Because after the one second it took to read ALPHAS replies to my dissertation I can see that I made a mistake, not only in having exceeded 140 characters, but having addressed him at all.

  16. JohnAGJ says

    @Riccoricco: Cry me a river. Manning broke his oath and betrayed the uniform he wore. That he is using this kind of defense only shows even more clearly what a dishonorable and despicable POS he is. He is a traitor and will be spending the rest of his life at Ft. Leavenworth, where he belongs. Make all the excuses you want for him and what he did, lionize him to your heart’s content for all I care, but nothing is going to change that. He is toast.

  17. dms says

    Manning is not a hero. He is a mixed up kid who couldn’t live up to the image his father expected of him. He was tormented his entire life for not fitting in. He joined the military to “man up” but, naturally, didn’t fit in at all. He sought relevance by dealing in stolen information.

    this is not heroic. He didn’t use the information to advance a cause. he simply downloaded and dumped information and hoped to “get back” at the system that rejected him.

    To call him a hero is to demean the many military men and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.

    Sure, there are corrupt aspects to the military. It isn’t perfect by any stretch. (It is still appalling that we went to war in iraq. the corruption–pat tillman etc.) But this guy is not poilitical, he’s a mixed up kid desperate to mean something to someone.

    And what he did so callously, was put people’s lives at risk.

    This is not heroic no matter how you feel about the military.

  18. Paul R says

    He’s been treated despicably since his arrest, but his actions before were hardly heroic. That said, the information he released was available to more than 1 million people inside and outside the military. It was hardly top secret. They’re making an example of him to scare others.

    That said, I lack sympathy for people who go into the military and then say they can’t handle the stress, before or after DADT. Bringing your sexuality into it is even more pathetic. So he broke up with his boyfriend and was surrounded by trigger-happy rednecks. Given his age, he couldn’t have been with his boyfriend all that long, and given the culture of the military, he shouldn’t have been surprised by his fellow soldiers.

    Wikileaks is a hypocritical organization led by a megalomaniac desperate for attention. Putting at risk the lives of innocent people and the needs of international diplomacy by releasing information isn’t noble and didn’t achieve any goal. Manning was simply a pawn, and he should have known better. He videotaped himself committing this crime—obviously he’s stupid, unstable, or both.

    I find any attempt to base his defense on his sexual orientation an embarrassment. It plays right into the hands of our enemies.

  19. LincolnLounger says

    If you like men who use “gay panic” as a defense to murders/attacks, then you’ll LOVE Bradley Manning’s reprehensible defense.

    Once again, Manning ENLISTED. He voluntarily signed up knowing full well there was a different set of rules in the military. One cannot pick and choose which rules to follow in the military, and it’s no place for those who wish to be activists.

    Manning BRAGGED about leaking the largest cache of secrets in American history. We don’t know if his actions endangered others or not, but it really doesn’t matter.

    The man is a traitor to his country who should spend the rest of his life in prison, and those who hold him up as some sort of “hero” are delusional.

  20. Dramaticartchild says


    Umm . .honey. . .what is this? The 10th century? Shall we put Mr. Manning in the Tower? On the rack? Will the execution be by sword or axe? Shall he be hung, drawn, and quartered? Oh boy! So many choices!

    But really, my dear, treason? In the Western World in the 21st century? WTF?

    No offense buddy, but you seem to be a little (and by little, I mean WAY to) eager to put this poor man to death. Unless you can prove he was a terrorist and was trying to pass off top secret information that would be used to kill American civilians directly into the hands of someone like Osama Bin Laden, your calls for his execution are, frankly, pathological. You need to rethink your attitude to your fellow humans, stat.

    Isn’t it funny that manly manly men who like guns, God and country (and sometimes their fellow men, though of course, they don’t like to broadcast it) always get their panties in a twist over “treason”, whatever the *%$# that refers to. Gotta love GOProud. Are y’all around this blog thingie, by the way? Come out, come out wherever you are. . .
    Aren’t you people the individualistic, “end the fed” libertarian types? What Mr. Manning did was the most individualistic, “fight the system” “don’t tread on me” thing you can do. Was he right to do it? I really have no idea. . .but calling for his execution is $#%#ed up, yo. . .

    Unless, of course, we’re barbarians, which we may well be.

    Please don’t prove me right.

  21. Tom says

    What a turd…and I’ve thought so from day one. He’s a weasel and a traitor, and, he brings dishonor on all of the other honest, loyal, hard-working gay men and women in the military. And just at the worst possible time. Again, may he rot in prison for the rest of his miserable life.

  22. AnotherMike says

    @ RiccoRicco…I read your argument

    1 Why is condemning Manning’s actions equivalent to supporting gay bashers, homophobes, the GOP, and Obama’s broken promise to close GITMO?

    2 Does the heterosexual or white man’s cause include the unfair burden that Intelligence Analysts not e-mail classified information to Wikileaks?

    3 If a Gay person commits a crime, must all Gay people support that person?

    4 Why does every Gay person have to agree that you do not think Manning committed a crime and that dissenters are the equivalent of an Uncle Tom?

    5 Are Gay military members who do not leak classified information, cowards not worthy to shine Manning’s boots?

    Bradley Manning needed a friend who could have told him – “Don’t do it; the elitist scum seducing you will not spend the rest of their lives in prison with you.”

    It demeans Gay people to defend Manning because he is Gay. I was in the military and it was often unpleasant, lonely, and terrifying. And…it does matter that other Gay people don’t commit crimes even though they’re surrounded by the same hate.

    I feel sorry for Manning the human being but Manning the soldier pulled the temple down upon himself.

  23. Danny says

    Our policymakers and political leaders don’t like having our military and foreign policy secrets exposed. Whic is the same thing as saying that the heads of corporations don’t like having the truth exposed about who REALLY makes the decisions in this country including why we go to war. And that is why Manning is in trouble. That is our dirtiest secret by far. And the republicans want to continue to give more and still more power to the boys in the boardroom.

    Manning is the poster boy for what happens when you resist the un-gloved iron fist of corporate power.

  24. RiccoRicco says

    The military likes to talk about honor, about oaths, honor that is often compromised by our military leaders when convenient, oaths broken by military leaders when expedient, than go on about American values when someone expose them as cowards.

    Throughout American history whenever an American soldier has raped or murdered a civilian in a host nation or in a war zone, has violated military code of conduct, the military have conducted themselves in a cowardly fashion, violating oaths and honor by doing all they could to conceal those crimes.

    For the United States military to talk about honor, ethics, and oaths while oppressing Black soldiers, and gay soldiers, which they are even currently doing, is a joke.

    If an individual conducted themselves in the same fashion as the military, we would be condemning that individual for hypocrisy. People actually believe that dishonor at a corporate level, or a governmental or military level should be excused.

    They believe its alright for the government to torture, lie, to murder until they government has lied to them, has tortured and murdered someone they love, then it’s a different story.

    We will buy whatever BS the government, corporations sell us, refuse to ask probing questions just as long as it does not touch us or the ones we love.

    We are a nation of oath breakers, and cowards who care, not about national security, but expediency.

  25. Chris says

    This is going to be BIG…a homosexual alleged to commit treason.

    I propose there are a couple distinct issues:

    1. Did Manning commit treason? If he did (and it certainly seems he did) then he should be dealt with harshly – even put to death. His sexual orientation (or anything else) is irrelevant.

    2. The larger issue most of us probably care more about is what Manning says about Gays in the military (or elsewhere in our society).

    Q. Can Gays be trusted?

    A. As much (or as little) as anyone else.

    Q. If (IF) Manning was more-predisposed to treason because of his sexual orientation / sexual identity issues (regardless whether this predisposition, if there is one, was CAUSED by DADT), then should we re-institute DADT?

    A. NO. To the extent Manning was unstable, he should be treated just like anyone else who is unstable.

    Removing discrimination against gays should reduce any possible predisposition gays have to compromise military missions.

    Allowing gays to serve openly and proudly (in the military and elsewhere in our society) can only be beneficial.

  26. Chris says

    @ RICCORICCO and others defending Manning seem to compare Manning’s actions to civil disobedience practiced by courageous change-seekers.

    My opinion is different…Manning may have committed the serious crime of treason. That’s NOT civil disobedience.

  27. says

    This defense is dangerous. Besides confusing so-called gender dysphoria with being Gay, it lays a groundwork for the revival of DADT, or worse, the total ban on LGB military personnel that preceded DADT. Boiled down to its dregs, the argument is that we are too unstable to serve.

  28. Deborah says

    Manning is not gay. S/he is a transsexual. Those are different things. We insult gay people and trans people every time with use the phrase LGBT. Stop pretending that 2 different things are one and the same.

    Manning leaked 250,000 cables that had nothing to do with any alleged wrongdoing and which s/he didn’t even read. In leaking the diplomatic cables, s/he has hindered diplomacy and thus made peaceful resolution of conflict less likely. S/he is no hero.

  29. Chris says


    Has Manning said he is not gay? If so, I missed that.

    I agree he’s no hero.

    I also agree as you seem to suggest, that LGBT is so broad a definition that we’re not really all one community…I’ll suggest all we have in common is discrimination against us for sexual orientation/preferences/identity.

    Frankly, while I generally relate sufficiently to other gay males to identify as a gay male, I don’t even understand or relate to lesbians – let alone bisexual, trans-genered, trans-sexual, or other non-tranditional heteros.

  30. Yeek says

    The strain of being a gay man in the military may be the reason for his crimes, but it isn’t an excuse. One standard for all. His punishment should fit the crime and precedents as well, with reasonable consideration of any unique factors.

    Is he a traitor or a hero? Well, most ‘traitors’ and ‘heroes’ act out of conscience. The difference is that a hero accepts the potential consequences of his action and faces them without wavering from their original conviction. I’m not sure which way Manning is gonna fall.

  31. says

    whatever he did, surely the years he has spent in prison, most of it under solitary confinement, not allowed exercise and forced to stay naked in his cell with no blanket – while being woken up every two hours – has been enough punishment. let the guy go, dishonerable discharge and time served, and be done with it.

  32. Chris says


    Manning, if guilty, should get the same punishment, regardless of whether he’s gay/trans or not.

    The fastest way we gain full equality is to insist we are treated equally.

  33. Alpha says


    Look up the UCMJ. You don’t get to choose the laws, or make them up because of your inner art child. Treason is treason, and if Manning did what he is accused of, he’s guilty of treason and IMO should be put to death. I’m sorry the world is an ugly place, and not all of us can be children, some of us have to do difficult things and bear the burdens of war. What he did put Americans at risk around the world. Grow up and learn about the laws before you make accusations of others.

  34. Alpha says

    @RICCORICCO Perhaps you should join the military and do something about your concerns. Or, you could just throw stones at something you don’t understand that protects your very right to throw stones.

Leave A Reply