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Bradley Manning’s patriotism put under scrutiny during supervisor’s testimony


U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse at Fort Meade, Md., on July 18. (JOSE LUIS MAGANA/REUTERS)

The patriotism of Bradley Manning, the Army private on trial for leaking classified documents, came under scrutiny Friday when one of his supervisors testified that Manning told her that he had “no allegiance” to his country and that the American flag “meant nothing to him.”

Former Spec. Jihrleah Showman, who worked with Manning at Fort Drum, N.Y., and at a forward operating base in Iraq, also testified that she came to think that Manning might be “a spy” after he told her that before joining the military he tried to remove personal information from the Internet in order to secure a top-secret security clearance.

Defense attorney David Coombs questioned Showman’s credibility and pressed her on whether her animus toward Manning was driven by the fact that he is gay. Showman acknowledged that she had used an anti-gay slur to describe Manning.

Manning is on trial at Fort Meade, Md., for turning over 700,000 military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. He faces life in prison, plus 154 years if convicted on additional charges.

Showman appeared as a government witness. She was asked by Coombs why she had not documented Manning’s statements about the flag and the country when, in the same period, she had noted his “excessive” smoking breaks and caffeine consumption. Showman said that she had mentioned Manning’s remarks to her superiors, who told her they would deal with his alleged comments.

Coombs called retired 1st Sgt. Paul Adkins, who also supervised Manning, to ask whether Showman had reported Manning’s alleged anti-American statements. Adkins said that, due to memory loss following an injury he sustained in Iraq, he could not remember any statements Manning might have made. Adkins said that if Manning had made such statements he would have included it in reports, but there was no such record.

Closing arguments in the court-martial will be heard Thursday. Manning elected not to be tried in front of a military jury, and Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, will decide the verdict.

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