Streetwise Professor

August 14, 2013

Bradley Manning: Manning Up

Filed under: Military,Politics — The Professor @ 8:48 pm

Bradley Manning was contrite, rather than defiant, in a statement he gave to the military court in advance of his sentencing.  He apologized for damaging the United States.  Although he pleaded that he did not intend to do such damage, he acknowledged that he had damaged it, and acknowledged it plainly and forthrightly.

He made some statements that I admire, because they reveal serious self-appraisal and a refusal to play the victim his supporters vehemently claim that he is.  For instance:

I did not truly appreciate the broader effects of my actions. Those effects are clearer to me now through both self-reflection during my confinement in its various forms and through the merits and sentencing testimony that I have seen here.

I am sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions. When I made these decisions I believed I was gonna help people, not hurt people. The last few years have been a learning experience. I look back at my decisions and wonder, ‘How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?’

Yeah.  What about that, Eddie?  And what about this?:

In retrospect I should have worked more aggressively inside the system as we discussed during the Providence Statement and had options and I should have used these options.

Eddie had options too.

Reading Mannings words brought these lyrics from an old Sea Level song to mind:

And it’s agonizing reappraisal,
Says Dusty Rhodes

And he’s the American Dream

Manning obviously engaged in some agonizing reappraisal.

One imponderable is whether the drawn out process of prosecuting Manning made the Snowden episode possible.  What if Manning had made this statement in August, 2012, instead of August, 2013?  Would it have made Snowden think twice?  I doubt it actually, but it might have.  It couldn’t have hurt.

Manning reflected on his mistakes in prison.  Snowden will have plenty of time to reflect on his actions in his “asylum.”  I wonder if Manning’s words will affect him now.  Again, I doubt it, given his grandiosity.

Manning’s statement also contradicts the entire narrative that his vehement supporters have been pushing for years.  Assange. Greenwald. Poitras.  The whole Wikileaks crowd.  Many more.  They would never-never-acknowledge that what he did harmed the US.  Working inside the system is an anathema to them: they want to destroy the system, from the inside if possible. They portray Manning as purely a victim.  But he refuses to play one.

Will they attack him for selling out?  Or, more likely, will they ignore him going forward, because he isn’t useful to them anymore, and because his statements are an embarrassment in their eyes.

Perhaps they’ll explain away his contrition as a case of someone who has gotten his mind right, a la Cool Hand Luke, under the unrelenting pressure of a cruel imprisonment.   In their Orwellian way, they’ll claim that his denial of victimhood is further proof of how he was victimized by the security state.

And of course, Manning has every incentive to say what he thinks a court might find persuasive.  But as cynical as I am, I sense that he is being honest. The colloquial language (“gonna”) lends an air of genuineness.  I get the feeling he is manning up, and accepting the consequences for his actions, and his failure to think through the potential consequences.

I would hope every word burns into the brains of Assange, Greenwald, Poitras, and Snowden.  A vain hope, probably.  But their prop, their poster boy, has refuted them far better than I ever could.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. The way Assange handled the “Climategate” leak of emails from the Climate Research Unit at UEA tells you everything.

    The emails showed climate scientists

    – fiddling the temperature record
    – exaggerating findings at the behest of environmental activists
    – breaking FOI law by withholding and deleting data
    – conspiring to suppress science they don’t like
    – trying to get dissenting authors fired, and
    – exulting over the death of opponents.

    They were sent to Assange first. What did he do with them?

    Nothing. Exactly like the BBC, in fact.

    He’s only in favour of free access to information if it supports his loony worldview.

    You don’t go far wrong by disagreeing with every position Assange takes, because if it’s his position it must be stupid.

    Comment by Green as Grass — August 15, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

  2. @Green. Spot on. Assange is a sufficient statistic for stupidity.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 15, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

  3. I don’t disagree with what SWP writes here, but the way the Manning case was handled makes my jaw drop. A quick quote from the wiki, referring to incidents that happened after he reported himself with gender dysphoria issues. Worth reading the whole thing, by the way:

    “A few hours later he had an altercation with a female intelligence analyst, Specialist Jihrleah Showman, during which he punched her in the face. The brigade psychiatrist recommended a discharge, referring to an “occupational problem and adjustment disorder.” His master sergeant removed the bolt from his weapon, and he was sent to work in the supply office, though at this point his security clearance remained in place.”

    They were worried enough to disable his weapon, but they left him with access to Army IT systems.

    Comment by jon livesey — August 15, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

  4. @jon. Yes. Bureaucracy at work. Military bureaucracy, in particular. Snowden is another example: how did he get a clearance, given that he almost certainly lied on his application (exaggerating his education). And I’d bet dimes to donuts that a routine psych review would have revealed he was a huge risk. The Fort Hood killer, Hasan, is another example.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 15, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

  5. You may have already seen it, but I ran across another little factoid today. Snowden was downloading secret documents before he worked at NSA for Booz. He was downloading documents relating to the relationship between Dell and national security when he worked at Dell in 2009. It suggest to me that he was engaged in a pretty long-running campaign to compromise national security – which of course says nothing about his motives, delusional state, etc.

    Comment by jon livesey — August 16, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

  6. @Jon. Saw that. Yeah. Move along. Nothing to see here. Just another hackopath at work.

    This raised several questions in my mind. WHy did he leave Dell? Did he think they might be on to him? Or did he figure that Dell didn’t give him access to the material he wanted? How did he know that Booz would have better material, or greater access? I recall reading that he took a pay cut from $200k to $125k to go to BAH because he wanted to access NSA documents from there. Didn’t it set off alarm bells that someone would take a 40 percent pay cut? If I had been BAH, I would have assumed he had f*cked up at Dell, and would have given him added scrutiny. Hell, I don’t think I would have considered him once I learned he was taking a big cut. That’s not normal. (Of course, all of the former is based on the assumption that Snowden told the truth about what he was making at Dell. Big assumption.)

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 16, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

  7. Hell, I don’t think I would have considered him once I learned he was taking a big cut. That’s not normal.

    I think your vastly overestimating the competence of the average HR department. In the oil business, if the market rate is $900 per day and somebody shows up offering themselves out at $300 per day, the HR department goes giddy with excitement about how much money they’ve saved without realising their company’s new construction manager was up until last week a fisherman.

    Comment by Tim Newman — August 16, 2013 @ 10:57 pm

  8. @Tim. Cheap is cheap. You get what you pay for.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 16, 2013 @ 11:40 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress