The man who has been accused of being behind the largest leak of government documents in history remains largely a mystery. Since his arrest May 26, 2010, Bradley Manning has been imprisoned, first in Kuwait, then at Quantico, and now at a medium-security facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. His past is slowly being put together to provide some picture of the man who might be responsible for WikiLeaks’ cache of cables.
Frontline PBS released a new clue into Manning: his Facebook status updates. Though the page had been available, Frontline created an annotated, edited version of just Manning’s updates and likes (a small quibble: I would have enjoyed it better if they put it in chronological order, rather than keeping it in reverse chronological order).
The off-the-cuff comments written by Manning over three years show a similar picture to the one portrayed in the profile of Manning written by Ellen Nakashima in The Post maganzine earlier this month: conflicted, prone to emotional outbursts and impassioned by his beliefs.
Many of his posts touch on the fight for equality in the gay community. He expresses sadness over California’s failure to pass Proposition 8 and complains obliquely about the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He also openly tracks his relationship and its demise on the page. When one friend suggests his breakup is not a conversation for Facebook, Manning writes back, “I have nothing to hide!”
Manning’s posts increasingly sound despondent, starting in 2009, as he heads overseas. “Bradley Manning feels forgotten already,” reads one. “Bradley Manning is now left with the sinking feeling that he doesn’t have anything left,” says another.
A month before his arrest, Manning wrote that he was “beyond frustrated with people and society at large.”
It’s a little like reading a personal diary by a man whose name is instantly recognizable, but of whom little really is known.
See Frontline’s annotated version here.