As more information comes out of WikiLeaks, the world is focussed on the sites founder, Julian Assange.
But the information being released allegedly came from Private Bradley Manning, 23, now facing 52 years behind bars if he is found guilty of passing the hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and military logs to Assange.
And the true culprit behind the leaks is really Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell [DADT].
One of Manning’s fellow US servicemen told reporters that Manning was a “really nice kid” who was “terrorised” by the army and other soldiers despite being polite, sociable and eager to please. He was targeted because he is gay.
The serviceman said the bullying embittered Manning.
“He had a sense of revenge against things. He never should have had the access that he had. You can’t punish a bull for wrecking a china shop when you’ve pushed the bull in to it and trapped him in there.”
There’s speculation that Manning might in fact be transgendered, after extracts from his conversations with hacker Adrian Lemo, who altered US authorities to Manning’s alleged role in the affair, were published on the internet.
Manning wrote “I wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much, if it wasn’t for the possibility of having pictures of me… plastered all over the world press… as boy… I’m just kind of drifting now…waiting to redeploy to the US,be discharged… and figure out how on earth I’m going to transition.”
Of course, no-one can ask Manning himself, because he’s been held incommunicado by the US military since April.
Reaction from the Right has been extreme. Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner called for Manning to be ‘interrogated aggressively’, and for Julian Assange to be assassinated. Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said Manning should be executed for treason.
Huckabee also opposed the repeal of DADT ‘because it works’.
But the WikiLeaks debacle shows that it doesn’t: if Manning had been allowed to serve openly, there’s a good chance he would never have become embittered.
There would be something very appropriate about a man ordered to live a lie taking his revenge by exposing the lies of those who maintained and enforced those orders – if he did.
The ultimate irony is that the leaks may not have come from him at all. About a half-million servicemen, government officials, and private contractors can log on to the secret information network, making it almost impossible to secure.
Pete Hoekstra, ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, is convinced the system has been thoroughly penetrated by foreign intelligence services.
Manning may only be a scapegoat.