Strange Developments in Manning Trial

Marshall Thompson

The trial of Bradley Manning continues after taking a few sensational turns last week. We discussed on this blog a few months ago how Manning’s charges for allegedly leaking classified information to Wikileaks could amount to capital punishment, so the stakes could not be higher.

The first surprise was that Manning was transgender. The stress for a U.S. soldier who was either gay or transgender under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy would have been intense. Some experts say the goal behind this defense would be sentence reduction.

It also shows that his chain of command was unresponsive to his stressful situation, even after he informed them that he was having problems because of his gender identity. Spreading the blame around for the leaks makes him less likely to end up a scapegoat.

The second unusual revelation was that Manning’s alleged chat-room confession was given to an ex-hacker who was also an ordained minister. Adrian Lamo, the hacker-turned-informant, admitted in cross-examination that the private chat took place under conditions that “a reasonable person” would conclude were confidential. In fact, Lamo allegedly told Manning that he was a minister and that anything he told him would be considered a privileged confession.

The lesson, of course, is never trust a minister you meet in a chat room.

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