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Galindez reports: "Bradley Manning took the stand and made an unsworn statement during the sentencing phase of his trial. At times he appeared to be struggling to control his emotions."

Bradley Manning made a statement today to close the Defenses sentencing phase of his court-martial. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN )
Bradley Manning made a statement today to close the Defenses sentencing phase of his court-martial. (art: Kay Rudin/RSN )

Manning Apologizes for Any Harm Done By His Actions

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

14 August 13



RSN Special Coverage: Trial of Bradley Manning

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radley Manning took the stand and made an unsworn statement during the sentencing phase of his trial. At times he appeared to be struggling to control his emotions. Sounding nervous, he turned to the judge:

First, Your Honor, I want to start off with an apology. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that my actions hurt people. I'm sorry that it hurt the United States. At the time of my decisions, as you know, I was dealing with a lot of issues, issues that are ongoing, and are continuing to affect me. Although they have caused me considerable difficulty in my life, these issues are not an excuse for my actions. I understood what I was doing, and the decisions I made. However 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've seen here. I'm sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions. When I made these decisions I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people. The last few years have been a learning experience. I look back on 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. In retrospect, I should have worked more aggressively inside the system, as we discussed during the [...] statements. I had options and I should have used these options. Unfortunately I can't go back and change things, I can only go forward. I want to go forward. Before I can do that though, I understand that I must pay a price for my decisions and actions. Once I pay that price, I hope to one day live in a manner that I haven't been able to in the past. I want to be a better person, to go to college, to get a degree, and to have a meaningful relationship with my sister, with my sister's family, and my family. I want to be a positive influence on their lives, just as my Aunt Deborah has been to me. I have flaws and issues that I have to deal with, but I know that I can and will be a better person. I hope you can give me an opportunity to prove, not through words but through conduct, that I am a good person and that I can return to a productive life in society. Thank you, Your Honor.

While Manning said his personal issues were not an excuse for his actions, much of the day's testimony was related to his troubled upbringing and mental health.

Two military mental health professionals testified for the defense on wednesday as to Manning's mental health prior and during the time of the leaks.

Captain Michael Worsley was Manning's psychologist while deployed. Manning saw Capt. Worsley voluntarily half a dozen times, from 30 December 2009 to 26 May 2010, for anxiety and personality disorders.

Worsley was concerned that Manning had nobody to share his feelings with. He didn't open up to the doctor during treatment and didn't appear to be close to anyone, or to have any friends. Worsley described Manning as guarded in during his sessions and noted workplace problems in which Manning complained that he was working with "rednecks." On cross examination the former Marine said he read nothing into that statement because he considered many he worked with in the Marines as "rednecks." What the Army was trying to get the doctor to say was that Manning didn't interact with people because he thought he was better than them.

Capt. Worsley was not aware of Manning's gender issues until receiving an email from him in late April titled "My Problem." The email started out: "This is my problem, I have had signs of it for a very long time. It has caused problems with my family. I thought a career in the military would solve it." It was accompanied by an image of Manning wearing a blonde wig and make-up.

Worsley did not discuss the email with Manning until May 8, the day he punched his supervisor, Specialist Showman, and was brought to Worsley by his master sergeant at 1:30 am. It was then that Worsley diagnosed Manning with a gender identity disorder and recommended separation from the military. He testified that Manning's gender identity disorder isolated him, and said that Manning could not have openly sought treatment for his disorder, because the military was hostile to the disorder and would not have treated him for it.

Worsley also spoke of a pattern of mental issues for Manning prior to entering the military. This pattern was further detailed by the next witness.

Commander David Moulton is the defense expert on mental health issues. He met with Manning seven times during his confinement and reviewed prior mental health evaluations and medical records. Manning first sought mental health treatment when he was 17, before entering the military. Manning was also was evaluated during basic training at Fort Leonardwood. Prior to entering the military, Manning was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and was prescribed Lexipro.

Cmdr. Moulton testified that Manning's parents were alcoholic and that his family was homeless for a period. He described Manning as being under severe emotional distress at the time of the leaks. He used the terms highly stressed, acting out, and suicidal tendencies. Moulton said that without a support system at the time of the leaks, Manning's frustrations led to extreme behavior.

Moulton testified that Manning believed the leaks would lead to a greater good, that society would realize the wars were wrong.

Moulton used the term crowdsourcing to describe what Manning was doing when he leaked the documents. He testified that Manning thought that the greater the number of people who could analyze the documents, the more likely it would be that the wars would end.

Moulton concluded by stating that Manning's personality disorders hindered his ability to make the right decisions.

Casey Major, Manning's sister, was the next witness. She also testified that their parents were alcoholic. She said her mother was "drunk" daily, and was very mean during hangovers. Manning's mother began drinking at lunch time. Casey testified that her mother drank through her pregnancy with "Brad." Casey described herself performing the responsibilities of a mother with Brad, like preparing a bottle and changing diapers, when she was 11. Bradley's mother continued drinking during his upbringing. Casey left the house when Bradley was eight, after a disagreement with her father. When Manning was 12, his mother attempted suicide. Casey returned to take care of Bradley and her mother when her father left the family. Casey described daily suicidal threats from her mother.

The defense then showed a few photographs, one of Bradley at 6 months old playing in a box in a hotel room they were living in, and other childhood photos of him playing with a puppy and on a computer. Casey and Brad were close. She was in tears while describing the photos.

I was not in the courtroom during most of Bradley Manning's aunt's testimony. They would not allow me back in the media center after I stepped out to report on Manning's statement. When I finally got in, I heard Manning's aunt ask Judge Lind to consider Manning's troubled upbringing when sentencing him.

The defense then rested. The prosecution has until 6 pm tomorrow to notify the court if they will rebut the defense's sentencing witnesses.

Defense lawyer David Coombs addressed a few dozen supporters who gathered in the courtyard after the day's session adjourned.

"Bradley is certainly a person who had his heart in the right place and he was thinking about you ... the American public," Coombs said. "His one goal was to make this world a better place."

One supporter had tears in her eyes and sniffled as Coomb spoke, and another wiped tears from her face. Several applauded and thanked Coombs for his work.

The court will reconvene at 1 pm Friday.

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