WikiLeaks accused Bradley Manning 'should never have been sent to Iraq'
Guardian exclusive: Soldier held over US intelligence leak was known to be mentally fragile and unsuited to army life
The American soldier at the centre of the WikiLeaks revelations was so mentally fragile before his deployment to Iraq that he wet himself, threw chairs around, shouted at his commanding officers and was regularly brought in for psychiatric evaluations, according to an investigative film produced by the Guardian.
Bradley Manning, who was detained a year ago on Sunday in connection with the biggest security leak in US military history, was a "mess of a child" who should never have been put through a tour of duty in Iraq, according to an officer from the Fort Leonard Wood military base in Missouri, where Manning trained in 2007.
The officer's words reinforce a leaked confidential military report that reveals that other senior officers thought he was unfit to go to Iraq. "He was harassed so much that he once pissed in his sweatpants," the officer said.
"I escorted Manning a couple of times to his 'psych' evaluations after his outbursts. They never should have trapped him in and recycled him in [to Iraq]. Never. Not that mess of a child I saw with my own two eyes. No one has mentioned the army's failure here – and the discharge unit who agreed to send him out there," said the officer, who asked not to be identified because of the hostility towards Manning in the military.
"I live in an area where I would be persecuted if I said anything against the army or helped Manning," the officer said.
Despite several violent outbursts and a diagnosis of adjustment disorder, a condition that meant he was showing difficulty adjusting to military life, Manning was eventually sent to Iraq, where it is alleged he illegally downloaded thousands of sensitive military and diplomatic documents and passed them on to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
In Iraq, Manning retained his security clearance to work as an intelligence specialist.
Two months after his arrival, the bolt was removed from his rifle because he was thought to be a danger, his lawyer, David Coombs, has confirmed.
A Guardian investigation focusing on soldiers who worked with Manning in Iraq has also discovered there was virtually no computer and intelligence security at Manning's station in Iraq, Forward Operating Base Hammer. According to eyewitnesses, the security was so lax that many of the 300 soldiers on the base had access to the computer room where Manning worked, and passwords to access the intelligence computers were stuck on "sticky notes" on the laptop screens.
Rank and file soldiers would watch grisly "kill mission" footage as a kind of entertainment on computers with access to the sensitive network of US diplomatic and military communications known as SIPRNet.
Jacob Sullivan, 28, of Phoenix, Arizona, a former chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist, was stationed at FOB Hammer in Manning's unit.
"A lot of different people worked from that building and in pretty much every room there was a SIPRNet computer attached to a private soldier or a specialist," Sullivan said
"On the computers that I saw there was a [sticky label] either on the computer or next to the computer with the information to log on. I was never given permission to log on so I never used it but there were a lot of people who did."
He added: "If you saw a laptop with a red wire coming out of it, you knew it was a SIPRNet. I would be there by myself and the laptops [would] be sitting there with passwords. Everyone would write their passwords down on sticky notes and set it by their computer. [There] wasn't a lot of security going on so no wonder something like this transpired."
Manning is facing multiple charges of downloading and passing on sensitive information. No one else at the base has been charged. Manning denies all the charges. If convicted he could face up to 55 years in jail.
The US Defence Security Service is also investigating why Manning, who had been sent for psychiatric counselling before he was deployed to Iraq, was not screened more fully before he was allowed to work in intelligence.
Eyewitness accounts by soldiers who served with him there and friends in the US who spoke to the Guardian paint a picture of an increasingly unstable and at times violent man.
One soldier who served with him describes him "blowing up and punching this chick in the face".
Additional reporting by Daniel Fisher
Saturday, 28 May 2011
WikiLeaks accused Bradley Manning 'should never have been sent to Iraq' | World news | The Guardian