A Comprehensive Guide To The Bradley Manning Trial


This week marked the beginning of the trial of U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning.  From protesters who are arguing against perceived unfair treatment of him under military confinement to starry YouTube videos in his support starring the likes of Maggie Gyllenhaal and Russell Brand (!) to some activists who insist that Manning is Transgendered and goes by the name “Breanna,” there is a LOT going on with this and it can be quite hard to take it all in.

Here’s a primer on some of the basics of the trial to help you understand it a bit more:

Who Is Bradley Manning?

Bradley Manning is an intelligence analyst who has achieved the rank of Private First Class in the United States Army.

Why Is He on Trial?

PFC Manning was arrested for allegedly passing classified material to the website WikiLeaks while stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, including videos of separate airstrikes in both Iraq and Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands of restricted army reports.  The
“Collateral Murder” video, as the one set in Iraq is called, depicts a U.S. Attack Helicopter killing 12 civilians and those who attempted to help the wounded.

What Is the Most Serious Charge?

PFC Manning is facing multiple counts, the most serious of which is Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) Article 104, “Aiding the Enemy,” which is potentially punishable by death.

What Does the Prosecution Think?

Prosecutors are portraying Manning not as a heroic whistleblower, but as a deeply unhappy soldier who craved the fame and notoriety that leaking the classified documents would get him.

What Does the Defense Think?

Manning’s defense team insists that he wasn’t a gloryhound, but a troubled and sensitive soldier that was struggling with his gender identity and was deeply disturbed by the daily realities of life on the ground in Iraq.

Is Bradley Manning Gay?

Upon being stationed at Fort Drum, Bradley posted openly on Facebook about his relationship with Brandeis University student Tyler Watkins.

Is Bradley Manning Transgender?

One of the lesser-covered aspects of this trial is PFC Manning’s gender identity.  In 2010, Wired Magazine published chat logs between Manning and hacker Adrian Lamo, who would later reveal to the FBI that Manning had confessed to downloading the classified material and passing it on to WikiLeaks.  In the logs, Manning states that “ 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…”

Why Are People Protesting For PFC Manning?

After the arrest, Manning was placed in solitary confinement under “Prevention of Injury” status.  He was not allowed to speak to other detainees, could only leave his cell for 20 minutes a day, and had to remove his clothing to sleep among other very restrictive rules.  There is some speculation that the “Prevention of Injury” status is due to Manning’s perceived instability due to his gender identity issues, and Manning’s treatment was a cause of international concern, even being addressed by President Obama during a White House press conference.  There are also people who see the uncovering of multiple war crimes in the videos and documents he released as being in the grand tradition of whistleblowing, and that he should be seen as a hero and not a criminal.

Why Should I Care?

For anyone invested in LGBT rights, politics, war, or international relations, the Manning trial is important on many fundamental levels.  For an LGB community that has only recently gained the right to serve openly in the military and a Transgender
community that continues to fight for that right, PFC Bradley Manning is seen, for better or worse, as a representative of our capabilities in the armed forces.  While some call him a traitor and some call him a hero, the trial poses fascinating questions moving forward:  Do we as Americans have the right to information that has been classified?  Do the ends justify the means?  Is it right for the government Manning exposed for war crimes to put him on trial? Everyone has an opinion, and rightly so.  Hopefully the information here will give you a basic insight into the trial and motivate you to do some more research.

Note: PFC Manning is being tried as and referred to as a male in all official court proceedings, so we have referred to him as such for those reasons.  No insult or disrespect to the transgender community is intended.

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  • 2eo

    You should always respect the rights of those willing to expose the criminal wrongs and abuse of humanity committed by a faceless machine in your name.

    Although this is just a circular discussion on Queerty, the usual less educated members will be calling him a traitor and whathaveya shortly. Totally valid in calling them less educated too, no question.

  • Hansolo

    @2eo: As usual your intellect is far superior when someone disagrees with you. This kid new exactly what he was getting himself into. The US government is not innocent nor have they ever been. He signed up for it and broke his oath. What is there to argue.

  • aliaselias

    @Hansolo: There is a huge amount to argue about. That prosecutors under Obama are in pursuit of the “Aiding The Enemy” charge – which could carry with it the death penalty, as well as life in prison, is a complete distortion of his acts. He released evidence of criminal acts as an act of conscious, and at risk to himself. It’s well evidenced that he leaked the files for the american people. A rare and heroic act, these days.

    It should be said that he called the NYTimes and the Washington Post before going to Wikileaks. Neither was interested, but the NYTimes did go on to publish the Iraq War Diaries that he leaked.

    We’d be much better off if we all had the bravery of Manning. The bravery to stand up agains the war machine despite the risks to ourselves, and call a crime a crime.

  • Hansolo

    @aliaselias: If it really was act of conscious why the hell join the military. I do not believe one bit he did not know what the US military was about. Was he that blind or naive? He was genius I thought? No…there better ways to fight than join. He broke his oath….is that not even important anymore? I for one would never ever sign up for this military because I do not enjoy killing or fighting. I would rather work for peace and equality.

  • jeff4justice

    Manning is a hero. This 2-party system is out of control and as we see with the endless news of erosion of civil rights there’s no limit to what this government will do to cover up it’s crimes.

    The 2party system charade = lie-based war, poverty, pollution, and eradication of individual rights.

    But don’t worry Manning, the LGBT lemmings of the Democrat half of the 2partysystem charade have found a new scapegoat in Ellen Sturtz. And mainstream news will be too busy covering Michael Jackson’s daughter.

  • aliaselias

    @Hansolo: He was young when he joined the military – most are. I went to Art school and racked up student debt – was I blind and naive? Yes! I was also 19. Many people join the military out of a genuine desire to help people, join something bigger than themselves, or do it for purely economic reasons – Bradley was poor, queer, and isolated.

    None of this changes the fact that after seeing great crimes of war, he decided to act. It’s easy to be high and mighty as a peace activist while sitting in a comfortable chair at home. Bradley is in prison for his acts. How can you deny the bravery in that?

  • jeff4justice

    @Hansolo: Military recruiters prey on the emotionally vulnerable and poor. Many gays join the military to prove their “tough.”

    Manning woke up and saw the evil for what it was and reacted appropriately. No, an oath does not matter when one takes the red pill and starts to see the military industrial complex for the killing machine that it is.

  • jeff4justice

    @Hansolo: Military recruiters prey on the emotionally vulnerable and poor. Many gays join the military to prove their “tough.”

    Manning woke up and saw the evil for what it was and reacted appropriately. No, an oath does not matter when one takes the red pill and starts to see the military industrial complex for the killing machine that it is. Democide, or death by government, has killed more people than any other force. And those doing the killing have always been “Just following orders.” Order of immortality are unworthy of being honored. Bravo to those who come to their sense.

  • Cam


    Your logic seems to be that if somebody was working for Wal Mart and they suddenly found out that Wal Mart was selling people into slavery, that they have no right to say anything because “Hey, they took the job at Wal Mart”.

    That is idiotic.

    What I have noticed about the Manning case is that nobody has pointed to one single piece of information that he released that was dangerous to U.S. troops. What WAS pointed out, was that several pieces of information released pointed out that troops were knowingly being sent out even though it was suspected that Pakistan was giving their locations to the Taliban and putting them in danger….that the govts. of Japan knew that it’s nuclear reactor was dangerous and could go etc…

    But apparently FOX News has told you to put your head in the sand and say “Um…he was in the military so he shouldn’t have said anything even if he knew that it could save lives.

    Please look up the word “Whistleblower” and it’s definition.

  • andy0529

    I worked for military intelligence and medicine and a) He’s not transgendered because they would not pay for it and B) he’s no hero he’s a bitter vengeful queen who thoughtlessly tried to get back at superiors. He beat up a lesbian Sgt when she dispended him streaming music over classified lines and if your a gay male your the happiest soldier in the world if station In LA,SF,NYC or DC because nobody cares.

  • Hansolo

    @jeff4justice: @aliaselias: Big difference between joining the military and getting school loans for Art school. One teaches you to see the beauty in everything and the other teaches you to kill PERIOD. At 18 I already new what the US government was about being a foreigner living in the States but now a citizen. We all have choices to make and unfortunately he broke the law and will face his punishment like the “hero” he is. Honestly, I don’t judge people who go into the military. I only judge those who join than pussy out or break their oath.

  • Hansolo

    @Cam: Slavery…really….you compare slavery to what Manning did. So Manning is the Harriet Tubman of his generations freeing so many in the darkness of the night. You think the Iraq people are free now?

  • Cam


    Nice attempt to avoid the discussion. I pointed out how your argument was false, and instead of admitting that or defending that you try to dance around screaming.

    You have stated that because he volunteered for the military he has no right to be upset about what he found out is was going on.

    No, since I pointed out why your comments were false and ridiculous, please at least have the good grace to either accept that as an adult, or point out specifically why you think I’m wrong. The post you tried to use to respond was frankly just embarrassing for you.

  • Cam


    So lets see, you said nothing about what he did, just called him names and brought up an unfounded charge against him.

    Soooooo, what exactly was your point?

  • Hansolo

    @Cam: ok. He broke military law which he volunteered for and like a hero should face the crime he volunteered to commit.

  • Cam


    So by your logic then ANY whistleblower law is wrong because nobody who has taken a job anywhere ever has any right to report anything.

    I suppose the fact that our govt. was aware that the Pakistanis were reporting troop locations to the taliban and yet were still sending out our troops to get ambushed doesn’t matter.

    You would have made a great Natzi…..just following orders sir.

  • DownSouth

    The Obama and army propagandists have spent the last three years and untold barrels of ink casting Manning as an unstable, deranged and vengeful young gay man who did what he did out of spite, egocentricism and egotism. After Adrian Lamo’s testimony to the court Tuesday morning, however, that portrayal of Manning lay in shambles. Lamo’s testimony revealed a highly principled young man who did what he did because of his conscience. The transcript of Lamo’s testimony can be found here:
    I have followed the arguments of the anti-Manning faithful on LGBT publications very closely, and what their argument essentially boils down to is this: When you enter the military, check your humanity and your morality in at the door.
    There’s nothing new about this notion.
    For those who like art, there’s an outstanding German move, “Napola”, that explores the theme in great detail.
    One of the subplots of “Napola” involves a 16 year-old boy, Albrecht Stein, who is sent to one of the Führer’s elite military schools, Napola, by his father. His father is the regional head of the Nazi Party. Albrecht, however, is a very sensitive boy who speaks in a rather high-pitched voice and whose passions are poetry, writing and literature. He is not very good at sports, which greatly disappoints his father. His father wants to transform him into a ruthless, merciless, cold-blooded killer type like himself, but the transformation never takes place. After participating in an incident in which several Russian escapees were killed, Albrecht writes an essay in defiance of his father and “elite” militarism, which can be seen on youtube here:
    “Despite being a bit childish, winter and a view of freshly fallen snow awakens in us a feeling of inexplicable joy. Perhaps because as children, we think of snow in relation to Christmas. In my dreams I am the hero who saves the virgin from the dragon, one who frees the world from evil. When searching for the escapees yesterday, I remembered the boy who wanted to save the world from evil. Upon returning I realized that I myself am that evil, the very evil I wanted to free the world from. Killing the captives was wrong. They weren’t armed, as Stein had told us, just to bait us. We didn’t shoot men, but helpless children.”

    Stein reminds me of Manning. And like Manning, he suffered devastating personal consequences for following his conscience and defying “elite” militarism.
    Stein also reminds me of Ethan McCord, one of the foot soldiers sent in to clean up the bloodbath in the aftermath of the “Collateral Murder” incident (the video of which Manning has now admitted he released to Wikileaks). In a video interview, here’s what McCord had to say:
    “I wanted to be that soldier, that hero. So I went, and realized…that there was no enemy. The only terrorists when I was in Iraq was us. We were the terrorists. We were the one terrorizing people.”


    The LGBT anti-Manning brigade and its neocon cohort need to learn something that the Nazis never did. And that is that even with the extreme methods of indoctrination, coercion and violence available to them, the Nazis’ program to strip people of their consciences was never completely successful.

  • DownSouth

    @Hansolo: Hansolo said: “He signed up for it and broke his oath. What is there to argue.”

    As Andrew J. Bacevich points out in “The New American Militarism,” this style of argumentation is par for neocons. As he explains:

    “That style emphasized not balance (viewed as evidence of timidity) or the careful sifting of evidence (suggesting scholasticism) but the ruthless demolition of any point of view inconsistent with the neoconservative version of truth, typically portrayed as self-evident and beyond dispute.”

  • Hansolo

    @Cam: Glad you brought up the Nazis. Can you imagine if he leaked classified information during that war from his conscience. Can you imagine what the military did back than compared to now? Or would you rather just fight a good war if there is such a thing. Btw…I wouldn’t of made a good nazi. I have the wrong skin color and my best friend is Jewish. But I would of followed Harriet Tubman all the way to Canada given the chance.

  • DownSouth

    @Cam: Cam said: “You would have made a great Natzi…..just following orders sir.”
    Yep. Hansolo is not what he pretends to be (e.g., “I for one would never ever sign up for this military because I do not enjoy killing or fighting.” “I would rather work for peace and equality.”) In fact, he’s the antithesis of what he pretends to be.

    The dead giveaway was when he started invoking all those Nixonian law and order legalisms about “breaking the law.” Or is it Adolf Eichmann he’s channeling? After all, as Eichmann was quick to point out to the court in Jerusalem, he not only “obeyed orders, but also obeyed the law” when he loaded all those innocent people on box cars and shipped them off to the death camps.
    All the way from Núremberg to the teachings of Martin Luther King, it is more than clear that one has an obligation to break immoral laws.

  • Cam


    Once again, your post doesn’t respond in a way that at all defends your point. Your comment of “@Cam: Glad you brought up the Nazis. Can you imagine if he leaked classified information during that war from his conscience. Can you imagine what the military did back than compared to now?”

    is idiotic. So your response as to WHY Manning deserves what he is getting is because the Natzi’s would have done the same thing our military is getting?

    Once again, you would have made a perfect Natzi…. You just follow orders and the facts and truth don’t matter.

  • 2eo

    @Hansolo: Where’s your mate Caleb gotten too, he was very vocal about Manning in the last few stories.

    Oh wait, the part where he was exposed as a neo-conservative halfwit who trolls left leaning sites like stadacona and Avenger, ah yes.

    I made very obvious overtones about your lack of intelligence and your posts more than lived up to my expectations, less intelligent people are pro the military doctrine and against morals and conscience, it’s a simple fact.

  • DownSouth

    @andy0529: Captain Casey Fulton testified Wednesday afternoon. He is the one who supposedly told The Telegraph about Manning’s fight with Ms. Showman. But in Fulton’s testimony to the court, there was no mention of any fight. So in both Fulton’s and Showman’s testimony to the court, there was no mention of any fight. How do you explain that?

  • Fawkes

    @Hansolo: I love how cowards who never served in the military talk about Manning breaking his oath as if they have any idea what the military oath is. The oath all service personnel take is to defend the Constitution, not protect government secrets. Learn some facts before you come on here trolling. It gets tiring to have to respond to all this uneducated nonsense.

  • 2eo

    @Fawkes: It’s obvious who has the actual ground when you consider the quality of the posters and with the knowledge of the situation are to a man on the side of Manning.

    The people against him are the oafish, cretinous useful idiots who believe the shovel like the good little GOP and military lapdogs they are.

    The fact Han and Andy have resorted to talking about an “Oath” and making up stuff like fighting, though given how most of the charges against him are outright lies that ranks low on the list, sadly.

  • MK Ultra

    Actually what Manning did was one of the most patriotic things one can do for one’s country.
    If you love what America stands for (at one time at least), then you should hate what it’s becoming. Today they’re spying on your electronic communications, tomorrow…who knows what terrifying steps they’ll take for “national security”.
    It surprises me how people aren’t shocked or disappointed at what is happening to the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave”.

  • brent

    I wish we had a wikileaks and Bradley Manning at the EPA to expose the lies the american people have been told about global warming and endangered polar bears

  • Cam


    Well Gee Brent, apparently you are so much smarter than everybody else, because you seem to have discovered all by your self that everything laid out by the scientific community is false.

    How amazingly smart you are to have figured this out….oh wait, thats right, every conservative blog in the country says the exact same thing, it’s just that they don’t have any scientific backing and are merely carrying water for the largest polluters.

  • Hansolo

    @Cam: I love how your only arguement is to call me a Nazi or coward, troll or whatever else. Your Manning no matter how much you protest is going to pay the price of his actions. I believe in peace but that doesn’t mean I am a pacifist. Sometimes you need fight. I love internet only time someone would call me a coward lol. Name calling is that all you do?

  • 2eo

    @Hansolo: Bless, why have you fallen into posting literally the exact post Caleb made when he was called an imbecile, for being one?

    You are a less educated person, the facts can not be interpreted in any other manner. Polite discourse only matters when the matter is up for discussion. You have being proven wrong. The more educated and informed people disagree with you, and what you think, and why you think it. We know better.

    It isn’t a matter of free discussion, only informed opinions matter, and yours simply put are not informed.

  • truthteller

    @MK Ultra: Actually, what Manning did was one of the least patriotic things a member of the American military can do. We all know and understand that war is hell. I totally disagree with the actions taken by those he exposed, but the route he chose was against military law, and he had no right to use that particular forum to express his gripes. Manning was not drafted into the military, rather volunteered. He is not a whistle blower as the United States military does not recognize this classification. These are civilian terms. The military has its own codes and laws that are outside of the United States Constitution, this is why they have separate courts and rules.

    Manning did not work at Wallmart. He was an enlisted soldier that made his choices, for good or bad. Now he must stand by them and whatever comes next. He would be prosecuted the same way if he was straight, so I don’t understand how he is a gay hero. He ran his mouth to anyone that would listen. That is a traitor.

    As for the Patriot Act, this is the law many Americans supported along with going to war in Irag. Unfortunetly, man elected officials that signed it into law admit to never having read it in its entirety. I have read the entire document, during law school, and it scared the living shit out of me. What has been going on regarding the monitoring of calls and web activity is legal under the Patriot act, and was instituted over 7 years ago…under the Bush Administration. I feel little pity for those that believe these laws are good based on their fears of “the other” and don’t think long term, or care about their chickens coming home to roost.

  • DownSouth


    You know, after a while that same old hackneyed “he broke the law” tautology gets a little boring. You Richard Nixon and Adolf Eichmann types really need to give it a rest.

  • tchuy03

    Why Should I Care?
    Before being a Gay, or any other things that PVT Manning is we are American. In both our cases we swore an oath to Our Country and our Service. PVT Manning Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) Article 104, “Aiding the Enemy,” This is a serious charge that he has not denied. PVT Manning is a criminal and what most people understand that PVT Manning as the rest of us on Active Duty Fall under the UCMJ. I am ashamed of some of the GLBT Community backing him and supporting PVT Manning for the only reason that he is Gay. Many GLBT Service members serve with pride and dignity, do not resort to turning on our Country and fellow comrades. PVT Manning deserves to be awarded a tough and harsh punishment. PVT Manning was not drafted or forced into the Military, what he did choose is to turn his back on his Country and commit treason. Shame on PVT Manning and Shame on his defenders.

  • Fawkes

    @tchuy03: The fact that you would accuse the LGBT community of only supporting Mannng because he’s gay is far more indicative of what is in all probability your self-loathing homophobia than it is of anything else. You clearly have treated your oath to defend the Constitution like toilet paper. You accuse Bradley Manning of treason? The only anti-Ameican traitor I see here is you.

  • 2eo

    @tchuy03: Wow, that’s possibly the most dimwitted response to anything I’ve ever read, anywhere.

    Why do you hate America and what it is supposed to stand for?, what do you have against the constitution?

    Are you a terrorist?

  • FairyQing

    I might be a bit Ron Paulish, but I guess there was such stuff in USA, named C-O-N-S-T-I-T-U-T-I-O-N remember that piece of paper?
    Well, if u didn’t know, that is actually the supreme law of US! Surprise!
    According to it, sending military forces to fight somebody without a declaration of war is a war crime! WOW!!! Another surprise!

    And also isn’t military kinda designed to defend not only the constitution, but also the people of US? Since when is it legal for a soldier, to act in a way, that kills hundreds of Americans? Since when is provoking terrorism purpose of army?

    Funny stuff is, that if constitution had voice Manning would be the ONLY soldier not under trial! Because just by agreeing to fight an undeclared war YOU ALL committed a crime! LAST SURPRISE!!!

  • Polaro

    I have concerns with the accusations made against his treatment in prison. We are a civilized nation and must remain so. I hope he gets a fair trial. All Americans deserve fair trials. His actions are hard to defend however. If he meant to shed light on something wrong, he should have only shared that information. He did not. He dumped everything he could get his hands on. Why? I can only assume something far less noble than his supporter are tying to invent. The fact that he falls somewhere on the LGBT range is irrelevant.

  • 2eo

    I still haven’t heard a good reason from anyone as to why he should be prosecuted and treated so inhumanely.

    Shame really, you’d think the press around the case they’d have bothered with an actual case and not just railroading hatred of American ideals.

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